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Places Where SharePoint Can Use Improvement

by on April 19, 2012

In light of the nearing 10 year anniversary, and the plethora of articles out there touting how far SharePoint has come and how great it is, I thought it only fair to shine a light on the areas where it fails to meet needs and expectations. This is based on my experience as well as client issues.

If you feel some of these are misstated, please let me know!

  1. Hidden Inaccessible Base Fields!!! – Who thought this was a good idea? i have spent more time trying to expose the content of fields (or just the url of a file within SP) than I care to think about! Also, the naming issues should be cleaned up – at least give a way to easily find the actual name of a field in the List Settings page if nothing else.
  2. SharePoint Designer  – There is one thing that turns off developers, it is having a poor development tool. Yes, it’s free, but boy is it buggy! Considering the costs behind a SharePoint implementation, a better tool would definitely go a long way to cleaning up SharePoint’s reputation. In theory, it is a good tool, but some of the execution falls flat. It often rewrites code, injects line returns or junk code, requires you to save before inserting a web part, etc. Polishing up the application could give Microsoft SharePoint a real boost with new developers, admins, and companies exploring SharePoint capabilities for the first time. I have watched people throw up their hands and go back to other non-enterprise systems due to it’s difficulty and plethora of glitches. Web part connections are not editable on master pages and page layouts.
  3. MySites – This is far too complex to design. There should be a simple way to set defaults such as .thmx, Master Page, CSS, etc. for personal sites. Even if companies want to allow their users to customize these sites, most want a cohesive base design, which is far too complicated and takes too much time. In my opinion, this is why most companies do not bother investing in MySites, and may not even set them up at all. It can also confuse their users to see something that looks so different from the customized SP designs often employed.
  4. Blogs – Lack of standardized blog features and improperly formatted/mapped xml. Does not provide standard fields even though they exist. For example, author does not map to the Author node in the xml, but rather, is dumped into the content with all nonstandard fields…What?
  5. Recurring Items – cannot be selected to appear in CQWP by recurring date. This is really annoying as it requires users to a)know this and b)enter recurring events individually. Even trying to filter past items from the display is a pain, because you cannot “see” the end time field on the calendar, but need to select the site the calendar is in instead (not good if you have a number of calendars) or do something to the calendar item, like add a field to expose the value – irritating for something which should be simple.
  6. Themes (.thmx) Integration or Elimination – Who thought mathematically extrapolated colors were the way to go? Are they colorblind? Or was this just some programmers dream of good design? You should be able to set thmx defaults at the Master Page level at the least, the site collection and farm levels would be a plus. I’d rather scrap the whole thing and use a standard css file to which designers can have access; even if it means going to Microsoft and downloading it. And why can’t you simply save a custom theme to the theme library? Also, why is there no way to embed a theme in the master page? The whole stapling process is a pain for such a simple thing as a change in the default theme.
  7. Design Inheritance – This should not rely on the “Publishing” infrastructure and should be a foundation feature. This ties in with Themes in that inheritance of Master Page, CSS, and Theme (.thmx) files should be farm, application, site collection, and site settings – inheritance is implied!
  8. Meeting Workspaces – Why do they have to have a special master page? Why is there not a simpler way to set the landing page to show all associated documents by default (or at least let you set whether they are filtered by a meeting or show all on first visit).
  9. Publishing Site Templates – They cannot be saved!!! Why, and why have the programmers at Microsoft not fixed this?
  10. Complex Site/Subsite Templates – When saving a site template with content, subsites should be saved (perhaps another checkbox?). Also, the content of sites which includes web parts (CQWP in particular) and their settings, as well as all site settings should actually be saved.
  11. View Permissions – While permissions are OK, as a CMS it does not meet the complexity of systems like DNN. There is no ability to hide a section of content from a specific user group, you can only “show” to selected groups which will automatically hide it from the others. This is OK, until you start talking 30 or more groups (say companies with permission to access information on your site). Also, the pages do not seem to have an immediate response to audience settings, and can take some time to show the expected functionality.
  12. Master Page Selection – This should really be allowed on a per-page basis, particularly useful in a web facing situation (again, easily accomplished with DNN).
  13. CMS Menu Levels – It should not be resticted to 2 levels for integrated SP CMS Navigation – changing the levels in the master page is easy enough, but you have to rely on structure, and cannot manually set beyond 2 levels. You should also be able to make a second or third level “heading” if you so desire. Again, as a CMS, this functionality is clunky and severely limited. Also, it wouldn’t hurt if each menu item had a unique number (ie menu-item01, menu-item01-01) – this would allow you to easily target a specific menu item without having to resort to jQuery.
  14. Still Thinking!

Feel free to comment but no ranting please! This is constructive criticism.

  1. Greg Joiner permalink

    RSS feeds- reading from another page does not work with non-anonymose sources!

  2. Greg Joiner permalink

    RSS feeds- reading from another page does not work with non-anonymous sources!

  3. Greg Joiner permalink

    Using the Content Query Tool Web Part – when reading in ‘Announcements’ the ‘body’ tag shows all of the HTML code instead of rendering it, and does not support an automatic text max length.

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