Chris’s SharePoint Reflections

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  • Chris Zhong

    IT consultant Australia

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Say no to SharePoint Customization

Posted by chrissyz on June 2, 2008

I am going to start this controversial article to my blog. The purpose of this article is to provide some reflections on the adoption and utilization of SharePoint in the organzation. Patrick Tisseghem mentioned “SharePoint is about build or buy” in his famous blog “SharePoint is not a holy grail“. Well, I quite agree with that as SharePoint is not a solution for everything. It is how you apply it in order to aid you in the solution. However, from my own experience, SharePoint development experience isn’t as friction-free as it could be. Therefore, my formula is simple:  Effective sharepoint solution = OOTB SharePoint + third party tools + minimal customization. Yes, if you still think you need heavy customization after leveraging OOTB SharePoint and evaluate the existing off the shelf sharepoint application, then forget about Sharepoint

1. Customizing SharePoint costs money and takes time. I am sure any .NET developers can skill up and be productive and happy working with SharePoint, but it takes time. There is a steep learning curve and new development conceptes to adjust. The current situation is people pay $XXX for SharePoint Developers and they still can’t get decent ones. Oh, don’t forget these PM/business owners who have been nurtured in SharePoint OOTB syndrome, they won’t be happy to see developers spending too much time on learning and training.

2. Poor supportability.To say SharePoint is a development platform, well, it is partially true. It is a development platform for Microsoft and its partners. It should be a product for the ordinary companies who wish to use SharePoint to solve their daily problems. Why? First of all, customized SP is hard to support. You get some funky contractors write some funky custom code and after a couple of months something goes wrong and their successors have to dig into these code to investigate what is going on. Secondly, Microsoft has three year dev cycle for SharePoint. You will expecting your application to upgrade with Microsoft’s new release. But remember, Microsoft doesn’t support custom code. You messed up, bad luck.
3. There are a lot of community supports for SharePoint, but looks like most people is still learning the concepts and exploraing the best practises. Again, a good place to go maybe Codeplex. It has a lot of community tools. It is free and it has version controls as well. At least it will give you some code block to start with for customization. But, like I say, they are community tools, so don’t be too fuzzy.

Looking forward, we are expecting Microsoft and its partners to develop more useful web parts and features just like what they do in MOSS 2007. And organizations only need to subscribe to what they need and configure it according to business requirements.


4 Responses to “Say no to SharePoint Customization”

  1. Jayaprakash said

    Nice article Chris,

    I agree with you, Sharepoint Customization and Changing the default look&feel are very painful.


  2. Andy Dale said

    Very good blog. I agree totally with it. Too many people spend ages customising pages with SharePoint Design so they look sexy and then when other users come to make changes they find they can’t.

    Andy Dale
    Information Specialist

    Email :
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  3. Nice points succinctly made ;-).

    My own experiences of working with the platform since it first came out in 2001, through 2003 and now 2007 tells me that clients will ALWAYS want to customise despite many brave efforts on my part to get them to ‘configure’, not customise.

    Inevitably however, the ‘great steam train’ that is SharePoint has left the station so to speak, hence despite what ever efforts you put in place to stop it, the best you can do is slow it down and make the journey that little bit more comfortable – your article eludes to many of these approaches, though i would again air on the side of caution when using 3rd party tools and these can also be fraught with problems.

    Finally, a phrase I use from time to time to remind ‘customisation hungry clients’ is that how much did they customise Word? Or Excel? In other words, treat it like an application in the first instance and explore its vast functionality before turning to your developer toolkit…and then consider you will 1. Pay for custom development, 2. Pay AGAIN for the custom code deployed to be reviewed when service packs come along and then finally 3. Pay for it AGAIN when you migrate to the next version of SharePoint or some other platform as they need to review your code!


  4. Jainath said

    Hi Chris,

    I totally agree to this point.
    Effective sharepoint solution = OOTB SharePoint + third party tools + minimal customization.

    Jainath H J

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