Over the past five years I have worked on over 100 SharePoint projects in both an IT Professional and Developer capacity. In that time, many things have improved with SharePoint, but I wonder if SharePoint Online is going to be the new SharePoint Foundation.
SharePoint 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.
On May 4th, 2016 the future of SharePoint was announced and at one point during the presentation Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President – OneDrive and SharePoint at Microsoft said something along the lines of “we are reinventing the intranet”. While that might be seen as hyperbole it is hard to argue the fact that Microsoft is reinventing SharePoint. When Teper was brought back in to lead the SharePoint/OneDrive efforts, there was a lot of buzz in the community about where things would be going. Now we have our answer.
In SharePoint, most (not all) files don’t actually exist in the conventional way. What I mean by this is that you can’t just browse to a directory and open a SharePoint page in your favorite text editor and make changes. Instead, most files in SharePoint exist as BLOB data in a SQL database and the only way to actually edit these files is through SharePoint Designer.
So what if you want to have any of these files in source control? Of course you could use SharePoint Designer to copy/paste the contents of each target file to your file system, but that is extremely cumbersome (you can’t just copy/paste a file itself, you need to actually open it and copy the contents). As our clients have become more and more proficient with using SharePoint Designer to make their own changes we have had an increasing need to actually get these changes in source control.
In the world of SharePoint there are really 4 distinct roles that are involved:
- IT Professional
- Power User
- End User
SharePoint 2016 ultimately is a big step up for:
- IT professionals responsible for setup, maintenance and administration of SharePoint
- End users interacting with the environment
SharePoint 2016 is pretty much a “draw” at this point for developers and could even be seen as a step back for power users, which might actually be a good thing.