Where is the line between Power User and Developer in SharePoint?

Duane OdumSharePoint power users are loosely defined as folks that have a knowledge base in SharePoint above and beyond that of a general SharePoint User. In training/marketing materials Power users are normally listed alongside a Site Owner or Site Collection Administrator role. Power users are invaluable to the growth and adoption of SharePoint within organizations as they usually have a better understanding of the features and functionality available out of the box that can enhance the end user experience and are essentially a translator between IT and the business when it comes to requirements.  Recently it seems that the lines between developer and power user are being blurred and I am not sure that is a good thing.

During the future of SharePoint event Microsoft announced that they will be rolling out Microsoft Flow and PowerApps as built-in applications within SharePoint Online.  The news of Microsoft Flow and PowerApps being rolled out was not groundbreaking as both have been on the radar for a while but having them built directly into SharePoint Online is a big deal.  Microsoft Flow and PowerApps are not going to replace developers as there are definitely limitations on what those tools can do but they add a couple more tools to an already crowded power user tool belt.

Another troubling sign for power users is the expectation that they know some “basic” HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  3 years ago we would have never expected a business user to learn JavaScript but that seems to be the status quo now.  At a recent SharePoint event targeted at power users there were 3 sessions being conducted by folks that are first and foremost developers.  The sessions focused on very basic customizations using JavaScript and jQuery but is that really something that power users need to know?  At what point does a power user become a developer?

I don’t necessarily think that providing more options is good thing without clear guidance and I know this is all pre-release anyway but it is concerning.  We already have trouble with people being overwhelmed by the learning curve with SharePoint and adding a few more tools to the tool belt might not be a good thing for the right now.  I really hope that there is some clear definition around use cases for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow as well as guidance/training available for power users directly from Microsoft.  We definitely don’t need another InfoPath situation in the SharePoint community.

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