Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2001 (formerly code-named Tahoe) is a development environment for customized, enterprisewide portals that let users organize and share information. A portal is a location from which users can access information and applications through their browser. Think of a portal as a type of desktop inside the browser. Microsoft uses digital dashboard development technology and IIS to implement the server side of the portal. A digital dashboard is a portal composed of Web components (called Web Parts) that you can combine and customize to perform specific functions, such as displaying information or launching an application. You can write Web Parts in several languages (e.g., XML, VBScript, Visual Basic—VB); Web Parts in different languages can exist side by side on the same dashboard.

Because the client to the portal is the browser, users can access this portal from any location that has access to the SharePoint Portal Server computer through an intranet or the Internet. Through SharePoint Portal Server's default dashboards, users can

  • browse and search for documents and information
  • subscribe to documents, folders, and categories to receive notifications when changes occur
  • check in and check out documents
  • view a document's version history
  • approve documents for publication
  • publish documents for viewing by a larger community of users

Documents are held inside folders in a workspace, which is a location defined by a unique name on a SharePoint Portal Server machine in which you can create document folders and documents. To access a workspace, you must put its name after the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of the server in the browser's address input box. For instance, to access the Marketing workspace that's installed on the SharePoint Portal Server machine Server1 in the trainsbydave.com domain, you enter the URL http://server1.trainsbydave.com/marketing.

Two types of folders can host documents in a workspace: standard and enhanced. The important point about folder types for this article is that you can check in, check out, attach a version number to, and approve before publishing only documents in enhanced folders. Documents in a standard folder are published immediately. For a more detailed description of SharePoint Portal Server, see Tony Redmond's Windows 2000 Magazine article "Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server" (http://www.win2000mag.com, InstantDoc ID 20935) and the Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint).