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Microsoft SharePoint 2013 - How good is new office collaboration suite?

Microsoft takes up such major trends as cloud readiness, social collaboration and mobility with SharePoint 2013. The ultimate goal is a uniform user experience

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The open OData and OAuth Web standards — the latter are, among other things, already deployed at Facebook and Twitter — facilitate a cutting-edge connection of third party systems. With OAuth, the authorisation management of user and functionality can be separated. It’s no longer required that, the a web service has to know the user’s account and password or has potential access to the user’s entire SharePoint data in order to be run. The business connectivity services now support, in the standard mode, access via the OData protocol. Thus a simple connection is facilitated to external data sources, e.g. from SQL Azure databases and by way of the Azure marketplace. In addition, SharePoint supports different clients like web browsers or mobile phones.

Expanded functions via apps

Microsoft has tackled another core issue with SharePoint 2013. Up to now, the custom code — the addition of functionality via programming, which one frequently runs across in practice — was responsible for a major part of the problems in the operation of SharePoint. Additionally, the concept of sandboxed solutions (execution of program codes with dedicated and limited resources) constrained the options for functions expansion too severely. So a fundamentally new concept especially for cloud scenarios was necessary and was found with the apps known from the consumer and mobile area. In SharePoint 2013, additional functions are isolated in apps and made available separately from the SharePoint life cycle: either in an extra app web with dedicated domain or on external systems in the cloud. This ensures that apps will not have a negative influence on the SharePoint operation. The deployment of SharePoint apps can be done in two different ways. In-house, developers can provide apps through the corporate marketplace. Subsequently, SharePoint administrators have the option of controlling the distribution of the apps within the company. Microsoft offers a second option in the form of the global marketplace, a digital, public marketplace, similar to the one known from Apple’s iTunes Store, for example. Developers can upload their apps here and price them. Subsequent to quality assurance by Microsoft, the apps are available, then, publicly for downloading.

The scope of an app may vary heavily in both cases. Thus in principle, apps are possible that cover a complete business scenario, e.g. an application for vacation or a CRM application. The other extreme are apps that add technical functions, e.g. custom action for the direct printing of a document stored in SharePoint.

SharePoint 2013 - Facebook and Twitter for the Intranet

In the area of social collaboration, SharePoint 2013 offers pivotal functional innovations by adapting concepts known from Facebook and Twitter. “MySite” is presented with a definite structure and, following Facebook’s example, makes a clear-cut separation between the public and the private area. The user can present himself to his colleagues with a personal profile in the “About me” public area as well as share documents and other information. In addition, his activities such as “following” a document, evaluating inputs or current status reports are shown to his network here. What information is to be displayed to whom can be centrally established or done by the employee himself. A vastly improved newsfeed supplies the user with information relevant to him. “Relevant” in this context refers to information from the user’s personal profile as well as his activities in SharePoint — e.g. the following of a document, a person or a SharePoint page, tags used or the mentioning of one’s own person. The idea behind it: The user purposefully controls his supply with information via his personal usage behaviour. User-friendliness has also been vastly improved. Micro blogging functionalities known from Twitter, e.g. hashtags and mentioning, are now available; the insertion of pictures, videos and links into one’s own posts has been simplified.


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