Share Point

A "feature" of the new MicrosoftFrontPage beta. Sounds a lot like WikiForTheMasses.

Are any wikizens on the distribution list for this beta? If so, how is SharePoint like/unlike Wiki?


I've used SharePoint just enough to realize a 10x decrease in effectiveness compared to a WikiWiki. On the surface SharePoint has more variety and features than WikiWiki. But in practice every one of those features is cumbersome. Ugh. -- PatrickLogan


SharePoint is, in some ways, a descendant of WikiWikiWeb. I think it was in 1995 (maybe 96), that I found WikiWikiWeb and was fascinated by the potential to have a Web-editing interface using a Web browser. I created a simple CGI program of my own, which I called QuickWeb. I was the Microsoft Outlook development manager at the time, and I created a QuickWeb Web site internally, that we could use in the development group. We ended up using it for status information, updating info about the current day's build, etc.

When I was ready to move on from the Outlook team, I set off to create something more extensive, as an extension of the QuickWeb idea. I wanted to incorporate something with a richer data model; something with a real database behind it rather than as a collection of flat Web pages. I worked on my own for a couple of months, creating a prototype of what I called "TeamPages?".

In order to make this a real Microsoft Product, I focused on integration with both Front Page and other Office applications, realizing that in order to be a success, TeamPages? would have to be a great way for teams to share their Office documents, as well as be an add-on to the standard Front Page Web editing tools.

Eventually, my small team merged with the Front Page and OfficeWebServer? teams, and we became the SharePoint Team Services team. Our first product shipped with Office XP. Internally, at Microsoft, SharePoint has become a huge success. There are many thousands of internal team and project Web sites that have been created with SharePoint. It has all but entirely replaced the dumb File Share, as the de facto center of group collaboration.

I'm now retired from Microsoft (as of March 2002), but I am still in touch with my friends continuing work on SharePoint; I have high hopes and expectations for this product, which owes WikiWikiWeb as its inspirational ancestor.

-- Mike Koss mike@mckoss.com


At my employer, we used SharePoint Team Services for the last project, and after 2 years, I've decided it was an abject failure, and essentially degraded to a fancy network share. There are probably some cultural problems behind this, but for me, one of the killers was that it requires a "media switch" for the document libraries. I suppose it's useful to be able to have Office docs on the site, but the bulk of our content is just text and there's really no way in STS to do linkage between documents. I could never get the "comment on this document" function to work either. Also, I found the email change notifications pretty much useless, while the RSS feed that MoinMoin has is at least somewhat usable, though I'd prefer a full-content feed. One thing that we did was restrict viewing to only members of the development team, so we could have open debates without outside interference, and then we had a public STS site for everyone. I think that ultimately, what we wanted is a way to conduct a discussion and communicate, and a public site to serve as a repository for our formal output. I think that's the crux - SP seems to be oriented towards a more formal site, but that tends to be a little stifling.

I just helped a team set up MoinMoin for a new project, I'm very interested to see whether Wiki does better for us than STS. I wish that I'd set up a wiki for my current project, I'm having to learn a whole new domain and the linkages between areas, I've frequently found myself taking notes in a meeting and thinking that a Wiki would really pull my notes together well. Also, MoinMoin has the significant advantage of being free, so it's a very low cost way to experiment. I can't imagine being able to do that with the costs associated with SharePoint.

In response to the specific question, I haven't looked at the latest version, but I've talked to others who have, and they say that it's essentially the same to what SP was 2 years ago, just with a few bells and whistles. I should add that what SP does is add some role based security, very rudimentary for STS, more advanced for SP Portal Server (IIRC, it has roles like "Author", "Approver", etc.). Also, the document libraries have a mechanism for creating "views". For instance, we have a well defined load process (because our data center management is outsourced). So we have a document for the load instructions for each load, and then in the view, you mark the document as "completed" and the default view shows only the documents not "completed". So I think that SharePoint is probably a good tool if you have a process or workflow that you want to support, but less good at open-ended communication.

-- GordonWeakliem


I run a wiki on my laptop for mostly personal note-taking and idea management.

And yes the email notifications on the current SP release are as close to useless as I have seen. I never thought I'd see a system less useful than eroom!

-- PatrickLogan


Moved here from TipsForWardAtMicrosoft:

Another example of Microsoft doing something with absolutely no visible reference to or crediting of the original technology. Microsoft's SharePoint owes a great deal to wiki. Nothing at http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/ would give any clue that this is true, although the SharePoint page on this wiki makes the legacy clear. At least one Microsoft employee says it is nothing like a Wiki.

-- I suppose all open source and non-Microsoft-based software efforts give the complete lineage of the technology leading up to the development of the product in question?

Thanks for asking. Let's look.

-- I guess three is almost *all*. Linux:Unix::SharePoint:Wiki? That's like saying that Ford is remiss by not specifying on their web site that their automobile was influenced by the horse-drawn carriage. You miss the point of the Wiki to compare it to SharePoint and you minimize SharePoint by doing the same.

If you pick three random examples of free and open source software, odds are pretty good that you'll get the same results.


I can say for the record that our our line of products, which "embraced and extended" the MSFT Digital Dashboard Resource Kit spec using an early release of DotNet, were directly influenced by the collaborative features of Wiki.

IMO, SharePoint is more of an Intranet, employee document repository first, and an online community platform second. The layers of authentication and role-based security in SharePoint (and our products) are too much of a barrier to enable the serendipity of a Wiki community. -- MichaelLeach


If you run for open source application servers, OpenGroupware.org provides a lot of functionality very similar to SharePoint portal server.


http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/view/Codev/SharePointVsTWiki provides some anecdotal impressions of SharePoint compared to TWiki (and, by extension, any WikiWikiClone) for enterprise use. (2004-04-15)


I only found SharePoint with the release of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). In my mind it is a far cry from something like Wiki, although you could setup web part pages to act like one. The best selling point for SharePoint (and note that WSS 2.0 is FREE with Windows Server 2003) is that it gives you a document management system, intranet content management system and basic workflow all wrapped up into one very easy to administer package. Unlike the old SharePoint Team Services (STS) the new system is built from the ground up in .Net and has a much more stable storage system in SQL Server (all documents and web pages are stored there).

The easily customized lists allow you to re-create many simply data entry applications within your intranet, and the security settings allow user administrators (i.e. not IT guys) to restrict the use of those to whoever they like. In that sense it is completely UNLIKE Wiki.

Angus McDonald? (http://falkayn.blogspot.com)


Microsoft bought Content Management Server, which now merged with Sharepoint team. Any inside story about these? MS Content Management Server didn't seem to be a good product to me.


I've come to view Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) and its forerunner, SharePoint Team Services, as a weird hybrid between a network fileshare and a web-based flat file database.

Sharepoint has a few strengths in my view:

  1. Sharepoint lets you add context, annotation and other useful metadata to a directory of files. This is a bit like creating a directory on a webserver, adding files to it, and then creating an HTML page linking to those files and describing why they are important, only it is a bit more foolproof and perhaps more accessible to lay-users. It also allows you to add basic approvals and versioning to the collection of files.

  2. You can easily create subsites (like sub directories) and these subsites can have different permissions from the parent and their siblings.

  3. There is a simple mechanism for requesting and granting permission to view a site or subsite.

  4. You can modify a variety of basic list types to create simple databases for storing custom content.

  5. You can combine views of all the basic elements on one or more web pages.

  6. You can do all of the above using nothing more than a web browser, as long as that browser is IE.

The ability to participate using nothing more than a browser is certainly Wiki like, as is the ability to easily create content and links. The lists seem to have a Wiki sprit to them, but certainly aren't part of any of the basic Wiki's I've seen.

Sharepoint frustrates me in a variety of ways, primarily due to the fact that while it improves on fileshares by allowing you to provide context around files, it falls short in other ways. For example, even the Windows will treat a sharepoint like a fileshare, performance is horribly slow. The abstraction also breaks down when it comes to Office's autosave and crash recovery of documents, which don't seem to work when editing documents on a sharepoint. The sharepoint directories aren't available for offline access the way an SMB share is.

I've actually gotten used to using Sharepoint at work, and I came here looking for an opensource package that would provide similar functionality for an organization I'm participating in. Just being able to easily create and manage multiple instances of a basic Sharepoint teamsite would be cool. I don't need to layout pages using a browser based editor.

-- eas

Take a look at WikiPoint: I've not tried it but I know WardCunningham was working at MicroSoft on a product like this. Am unsure whether WikiPoint is the one they made.

-- MartinCleaver


A collaboration tool and not an EnterprisesInformationPortal?

SharePoint is the PortalSoftware from Microsoft and a new version in expected in 2007. The word Portal has been taken out of its product name in Feb2006. A list of new features is available at http://www.sharepointblogs.com/dustin/articles/5235.aspx. The underlying WindowsSharepointServices? 3.0 technology require the use of AspDotNet 2.0

Suits my purpose fine as I am unsure I am getting much benefits from an EnterpriseApplication that does not do collaboration well.


As it has been 4 years since this page was updated there have been a large number of changes in the world of SharePoint. It is certainly interesting to see the story behind it from an insiders point-of-view. The development of custom webparts that bring additional functionality to SharePoint is a key part in making SharePoint what it is today. A large directory of SharePoint WebParts? can be found at http://www.sharepointwebpart.co.uk.
See Also: FlikiBase
CategoryMicrosoft, CategoryCollaboration, CategoryMultiPurpose

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