Codeless SharePoint?

Isn’t the whole idea about SharePoint not to have to make another request to the IT Department each time you need some functionality?

That was my take a year and a half ago when I came to Xavier University to setup their SharePoint 2007 environment and jumped in as a new SharePoint Developer and Administrator. I had been coding in classic ASP and .Net for several years, jumped into AJAX with both feet and found I was enjoying be able to rapidly deploy and reuse all kinds of functionality in the Web Development business.

SharePoint is the next evolution in the web development world. Back in the late 90’s you could make good money hand coding HTML in notepad. The spread of Content Management Software and tools like Dreamweaver and FrontPage made it possible for end users to bypass coders to get their static web pages out there.

SharePoint now makes it possible, at least in theory, of users handling their own permissions, creating sites, managing content, the look and feel of their site and tons of out of the box functionality. The problem is that it is a tough learning curve and developers like me are often tempted to ‘Code’ our way out of tight spots in SharePoint.

There are several good reasons NOT to do this:

  • Who knows if your custom code will work in the next service pack or the next version of SharePoint.
  • If you figure it out with out of the box or with SharePoint Designer, your business users can do it, then later on they will come up with their own solutions instead of depending on you. The whole idea is to free up the developers time.
  • There are many things you can do faster using SharePoint functionality than coding. If you code your way out of every corner you will miss the built in functionality and clever innovations that can do the same thing

That being said, there is still code, such as JavaScript, jQuery and maybe some xmlt. Fortunately its code that can be copied and pasted by anyone knowing how to right click a mouse. Having SharePoint Designer is required for somethings and some CSS and HTML might have to be used, however, you will not have to open Visual Studio or deploy a feature for any of these solutions.

2 Responses to Codeless SharePoint?

  1. Courtney Dulany says:

    I agree whole-heartedly! My first experience with SharePoint was version 2003 at a large organization which was trying to move from Lotus Notes. Between FrontPage2003, InfoPath 2003 and CorasWorks Enterprise suite I was able to get a lot done without Visual Studio. Now I am working for a new company with 3000 users and MOSS 2007 and have found SharePoint Designer to be a nice step up from FP2003. I have already been my own javascript libraries, but I have heard really great things about integrating jQuery, particularly for charts.

  2. From Asia says:

    Very glad to not need Visual Studio. i don’t like having to try to code something that’ll be obsolete in future versions of SP. Don’t mind doing VBA in Excel, but in SP, no way. Thanks for your valuable perspective.

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