Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies provide robust collaboration tools that many corporations are adopting to help them manage and share information over the Web. Managers and end users alike are using SharePoint browser menus to manage document libraries, discussion groups, calendars, contacts, tasks, announcements, and forms over the Internet or corporate intranets. Transferring the management of these information portals from the IT Help desk or Web administrator to the end users reduces overall IT support costs and speeds turnaround time.
SharePoint comprises a pair of technologies that address the specific information-sharing needs of large and small workgroups. SharePoint Portal Server is an enterprise-level information portal solution for document management and content aggregation. SharePoint Team Services is a departmental or small-workgroup solution for quick and easy collaboration and information sharing. SharePoint's proven collaboration solutions become even more attractive to the business world with strong enhancements and add-on support from third-party vendors. The increasing number of SharePoint installations has caused the market to rapidly expand and has driven the development of SharePoint applications, utilities, and add-ons. Microsoft partners and service providers have produced hundreds of SharePoint solutions. These third-party solutions and add-on products expand the capabilities of both SharePoint technologies by adding new features and workflow functionality, while simplifying site administration.
SharePoint Experts' SharePoint PowerPak and SharePoint PowerSearch. One such product, SharePoint Experts' SharePoint PowerPak, recently received the MSD2D's People's Choice award (http://msd2d.com/peopleschoice_winners.aspx) for best add-on. MSD2D, which hosts one of the largest collections of SharePoint product vendors and add-ons, surveyed SharePoint users to determine their favorite SharePoint Team Services and SharePoint Portal Server utilities. PowerPak creates a clean Windows XP—like appearance on SharePoint Team Services sites and adds new features to SharePoint Team Services technology, including a feature that notifies users of new or changed tasks. The product's expanded capabilities let you color-code events exported from Microsoft Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2000; group documents into specified categories; create a nested-style links list similar to Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) Favorites and select link targets on a per-link basis; edit Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint templates directly from the document library; create an unlimited number of email distribution groups based on criteria such as SharePoint Team Services security roles, user activity, or logon data; and prioritize SharePoint Team Services survey responses in order of importance. PowerPak also includes an Enhanced User List that lets you display assigned tasks, item ownership, survey responses, and new or updated documents on one screen. The product automatically shows pre-existing content from SharePoint Team Services built-in lists and PowerPak lists. Because the standard version of SharePoint Team Services doesn't contain any enhanced features in the event lists, document libraries, or email distribution lists (DLs), PowerPak is a useful companion product that lets users control these items at a more granular level. PowerPak costs $99.95 per virtual Web or $999.95 for a per-server license.
SharePoint Experts offers another SharePoint Team Services add-on called SharePoint PowerSearch. PowerSearch enhances SharePoint Team Services searches to include results from all lists on all SharePoint subwebs. The standard SharePoint Team Services search scans only one document library at a time and searches only libraries on the SharePoint site on which you execute the search. With PowerSearch, the SharePoint Team Services administrator can set which fields and which lists to include in search functions. PowerSearch costs $99.95 per virtual Web or $1000 for a single-server license. You can find additional SharePoint Team Services resources such as user forums, code repositories, software reviews, and support links on the SharePoint Experts Web site.
Nereosoft's DataPortal. Nereosoft's DataPortal is a SharePoint Team Services add-on that lets users create custom Smart Tags and share them across the enterprise. Smart Tags are a Microsoft Office XP feature that lets users embed actions in Office XP documents. These actions can perform Excel, Word, and PowerPoint functions that would usually require you to open those applications. But the Smart Tag calls the application directly from the document, much like a program subroutine. Anyone with appropriate rights can use the DataPortal Wizard to easily create Smart Tags in their SharePoint Team Services documents that link to information in any enterprise database. Users can insert, display, or use this information in Office XP documents, Outlook email messages, or browser URLs. The DataPortal product sells for $75.
eManage/Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server. eManage/Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server is an electronic records management application that seamlessly integrates with SharePoint Portal Server. The application lets authorized users create and publish documents, then declare these documents as records. After users declare documents as records, the application's life cycle management engine uses corporate rules to manage the retention and disposition of the documents. At the end of the document life cycle, the application can automatically delete the document or transfer it from the SharePoint environment to an external repository. eManage is certified to the US Department of Defense (DoD) 5015.2 electronic records management standard. Additional product information and the DoD certification summary report are available at the company's Web site.
Equilibrium Technologies' MediaRich for SharePoint. Equilibrium Technologies' MediaRich for SharePoint application brings easy digital-media asset management to the SharePoint Portal Server environment. MediaRich for SharePoint automatically creates thumbnail previews for documents and files in SharePoint libraries. The product works with common graphic file formats such as .bmp, .tiff, .jpeg, and .psd and allows image panning, zooming, editing, or exporting from SharePoint Portal Server without the help of a graphics or design department and without the need for additional image-editing applications. You can select multiple images, then apply desired modifications to all selected images. This type of application benefits any company that has a large database or online catalog and is looking for a way to manage graphic file references without the overhead of programmers or image management programs. A MediaRich for SharePoint server license and five client licenses are $3999; each additional five-pack of client licenses costs $250.
4-Share's ZFilter. 4-Share's ZFilter is a plug-in indexing filter for Windows servers that lets you perform full-text indexing of .zip archives created with WinZip Computing's WinZip, PKWARE's PKZIP, or any other compression program that uses the PKWARE compression format. Although ZFilter isn't specifically a SharePoint utility, it can be very useful when searching for .zip files in SharePoint Team Services and SharePoint Portal Server document libraries. The product sells for $75 per server.
Keylogix International's ActiveDocs 2002. Keylogix International's ActiveDocs 2002 is an Office XP companion that simplifies and speeds professional document creation and is a useful addition to any SharePoint Team Services or SharePoint Portal Server environment. Using ActiveDocs 2002 tools such as the Smart Tag Wizard, Clipping Manager, and Rules Builder, users who don't have programming skills can add variable fields, text clippings, image files, and business logic to Word templates. The reusable-answer- files feature lets users save answers in a separate file and automatically create similar documents based on the same information. You can also use answer files with the Document Set Assembly, which pulls together all common information to create a set of templates for a defined document collection. Businesses that create many standard forms containing variable customer data (e.g., insurance companies, legal offices) would benefit most from such an application. A single-user license for ActiveDocs 2002 is $239, and a five-user license is $896.25.
Correlate Technologies' Correlate K-Map for Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server. Correlate Technologies' Correlate K-Map for Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server is a project and knowledge solution for SharePoint Portal Server. This application fully integrates into the SharePoint environment and lets administrators create custom templates that users can populate with simple drag-and-drop functionality. A built-in delivery vehicle lets managers prepare a collection of documents for online or offline delivery to users. Correlate K-Map for Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server also supports structured search results, so you can group search results from your SharePoint Portal Server sites into a preferred arrangement. The product simplifies migrating documents to your SharePoint environment: Users simply drag files and folders into a K-Map, then click Add to SharePoint. Correlate K-Map for Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server then uploads the files into SharePoint Portal Server in one operation. The product uses a comprehensive Document Object Model (DOM) that lets users access all K-Map properties, methods, and events programmatically. Contact the company for pricing details.
MacroView Business Technology's WISDOM. The final SharePoint add-on I'll cover is MacroView Business Technology's WISDOM. MacroView produces a SharePoint Team Services—based product—WISDOM Practice Intranet—for offices with fewer than 100 users and an enterprise version—WISDOM Enterprise Portal—based on SharePoint Portal Server. Both WISDOM versions automate document generation and management and track client, contact, and job details. Users can generate standard company documents by using the Portal Office, which retrieves details such as names, addresses, dates, numbers, and signatures from the WISDOM Enterprise database. WISDOM also has an optional suite of Web Parts (plug-in components that add functionality to your SharePoint environment) that manage time sheet entry and billing. Users can use the browser interface to enter time sheet data and disbursements; the system automatically reports time charges per job and displays the results in a graphical Billing Performance indicator that shows the progress against total and billable time budgets. WISDOM's billing system generates invoices as Word documents or PDF documents, which you can then email to clients. The add-on can generate several types of time entry or billing reports, and you can use Excel to develop additional reports, which are then available through the WISDOM application.
Looking to the Future
In mid-2003, Microsoft will release the next generation of SharePoint technology, which will include enhanced integration with Office, a robust set of new features, and a product name change. SharePoint Team Services will be named Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services and will be part of the Windows update for Windows Server 2003. SharePoint Services sites are composed of Microsoft .NET objects and components called Web Parts, which let administrators create page-based applications. In addition to the Web Parts that will ship with the first release of Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft and third-party party vendors will release other ready-to-use Web Parts.
Windows SharePoint Services will also offer much tighter integration with Office 2003, including sorting and filing of alerts through Outlook 2003, editing list data with Excel 2003 and Microsoft Access 2003, and the ability to create a Shared Workspace from within Word 2003. Users will be able to create picture libraries that automatically generate thumbnail views and use a new Office 2003 image-editing tool to edit images in the library. For a complete list of new and improved features in Windows SharePoint Services, read the Windows SharePoint Services preview at http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/preview/whats_new_wss.asp.
SharePoint Portal Server 2.0 will remain the enterprise SharePoint solution, letting companies organize and integrate multiple SharePoint sites across the enterprise. Administrators will be able to create SharePoint audiences by using existing Active Directory (AD) DLs and security groups, import AD user profiles, and target content to users based on job roles or tasks. SharePoint Portal Server 2.0 users will be able to personalize a SharePoint site by adding inbox, calendar, and task views to a site. In addition, Microsoft will greatly enhance SharePoint Portal's search, administration, security, and performance features in the next version. You can check out all the improvements and new features at the SharePoint Portal Server 2.0 preview at http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/preview/whats_new_sps.asp.
Microsoft will combine Windows SharePoint Services with SharePoint Portal Server 2.0 in an offering called SharePoint Products and Technologies 2.0. This complete solution will let managers create and use individual SharePoint Services sites, then connect the sites and administer them all through SharePoint Portal Server 2.0.
A wealth of third-party SharePoint add-ons and utilities exist, and the number of solutions is continually growing. Two excellent sources that will help you continue your research are the Microsoft SharePoint partner site (http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/partners) and the MSD2D site (http://www.msd2d.com/Product_view.aspx?section=Sharepoint), which shows a complete list of third-party add-ons. The Microsoft site also has a SharePoint Solutions and Services Directory that you can order free of charge, as well as a listing of third-party SharePoint solutions. Keep in mind that with Microsoft's upcoming release of SharePoint Products and Technologies 2.0, you'll need to check with third-party SharePoint developers about any product limitations or restrictions when using their add-ons with SharePoint Products and Technologies 2.0. Some SharePoint 1.0 add-ons and utilities might not function under SharePoint Products and Technologies 2.0 or might require a product upgrade.
|Contact the Vendors|
ZFilter * http://www.4-share.com
Correlate K-Map for Microsoft
SharePoint Portal Server
MediaRich for SharePoint
MACROVIEW BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY
WinZip * http://www.winzip.com