Book Review: Sharepoint 2007—The Definitive Guide
by James Pyles and ten (count them: ten) co-authors!
O-Reilly Media, Inc.
Putting Sharepoint 2007 to Work for You,
and for the People You Work With.
In a pre-information-age economy, the productivity of
individual workers could increase even if the productivity of other workers
nearby remained stagnant. As a result, tools that focused exclusively on the
productivity of individual workers had a direct impact on economic output.
In today’s economy, no individual worker can achieve maximum
productivity without taking into account his or her involvement with coworkers.
This is at least as true for workers spread over large geographic areas as it
is for workers who report to the same set of offices. In neither case can individual
workers achieve maximum productivity unless they’re supported by tools that
boost the productivity of their work teams and larger organizational units.
And what kind of tools do work teams and larger
organizational units need in order to achieve maximum productivity? Microsoft
is very happy to hear that question raised more often these days, since the
company has been hard at work on such tools for several releases. Its latest
offering, Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007, was named one of
eWeek’s “Top Five Web Application Developments of the Year.”
Using simple building blocks such as lists and libraries,
MOSS 2007 allows individuals, work teams, and larger organizational units to
manage document workspaces, meeting workspaces, and discussions, supported by
search capabilities that extend across an organization’s entire body of
content, whether accessed via a single website or via a collection of websites.
(Webpages are the primary interface for working with data in MOSS 2007.)
If all this sounds rather abstract, perhaps it should. But
in Sharepoint 2007—The Definitive Guide, lead author James Pyles points
out that what it all comes down to is that MOSS 2007 is a collection of tools
to facilitate collaboration of work teams and management of content. In
essence, he says, it provides a hub where all Microsoft Office products can
integrate effectively, boosting the productivity not just of individual workers
but of entire work teams and larger organizational units.
A Mosaic About a Mosaic of Technologies
Although MOSS 2007’s web interface provides a unifying feel
for users, there is a myriad of technologies underlying MOSS 2007 services. “Sharepoint
is vast,” Pyles admits. Indeed, there are so many technologies involved that he
turned to a total of ten other authors for help with Sharepoint 2007—The
The resulting book presents MOSS 2007 as a mosaic, that is,
a collection of integrated technologies that, together, create an overall
effect that transcends any individual technology in the collection. Indeed, the
book itself is a mosaic made up of 29 chapters by the various coauthors.
The benefit of this approach to documenting MOSS 2007’s
capabilities is that each underlying technology is discussed by an author who
has deep experience with that technology. The drawback is that the chapters are
at risk of being less integrated than they might have been had a single author
been able to bring to the book deep experience with all of the technologies
involved. Pyles wrestled long and hard with this dilemma and resolved it by
selecting as coauthors a variety of Microsoft MVPs and other consultants and
authors with deep experience with Sharepoint technologies.
The book is aimed at a number of diverse audiences,
including administrators of earlier versions of the Sharepoint product line, administrators
just getting started with Sharepoint, and persons who need or want to develop a
broader knowledge of MOSS 2007. The book is explicitly not aimed at .NET or
Focus on Features
In what ways and under what circumstances could a work team
or a larger organizational unit benefit from document collaboration, wikis,
discussions, blogs, and shared contacts, calendars, and tasks? This book wastes
no space on these issues. Instead, it assumes that the reader has an
appreciation for how and why these features can benefit a work team or larger
The focus on features will be particularly appreciated by
administrators with prior experience with earlier Sharepoint releases, since it
allows the reader to quickly ascertain what MOSS 2007 can do. Managers who need
to be schooled in the strategic value of collaborative technologies and content
management technologies will need to find a different book.
MOSS 2007 features are introduced on three different levels:
- A section of the preface entitled “How this book is
organized” is almost like an overview of the MOSS 2007 product, since it
includes a high-level list of topics closely tied to product features. If
you’re new to MOSS 2007, this is one book where the preface is well worth
- The first chapter provides a deeper, yet still
introductory list of features with a drill-down to subfeatures. If you’re new
to MOSS 2007, this is where it will begin to occur to you to think of MOSS 2007
as a mosaic composed of many separate but integrated tiles.
- Subsequent chapters provide in-depth descriptions of each
product area. The later chapters, like the preface and the first chapter, are
consistently feature- rather than benefits-based. The chapters contain plenty
of procedures, ordered in such a way that you can follow one after another as
you install and configure MOSS 2007 and then design a site, apply templates and
layouts and themes, and manage document workspaces, libraries, meeting
workspaces, and discussions.
Because so many authors contributed chapters on their
special areas of expertise, this book contains authoritative, easy-as-a-cookbook
procedures for accomplishing routine MOSS 2007 tasks. Individual procedures
aren’t intimidating, but the quantity of procedures might strike some readers
as intimidating. This is inevitable, given Pyle’s observation that Sharepoint
is vast. The book runs to very nearly 800 pages. It is heavily illustrated with
screen snapshots and also contains a number of flow charts and block diagrams
to help explain architectural issues and relationships. For more information
about the book and the authors, visit: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/9780596529581/index.html