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Reading this topic about the most over hyped technologies I noticed that SharePoint is almost universally reviled.

My experience with SharePoint (especially the most recent versions) is that it accomplishes it's core competencies smartly. Namely:

  • Centralized document repository - get all those office documents out of email (with versioning)
  • User-editible content creation for internal information disemination - look, an HR site with current phone numbers and the vacation policy
  • Project collaboration - a couple clicks creates a site with a project's documents, task list, simple schedule, threaded discussion, and possibly a list of all project related emails.
  • Very basic business automation - when you fill out the vacation form, an email is sent to HR.

My experience is that SharePoint only gets really ugly when an organization tries to push it in a direction it isn't designed for. SharePoint is not a CRM, ERP, bug database or external website. SharePoint is flexible enough to serve in a pinch, but it is no replacement for a dedicated tool. (Microsoft is just as guilty of pushing SharePoint into domains it doesn't belong.)

If you use SharePoint for what it's designed for, it really does work.

Thoughts?

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closed as not constructive by Anna Lear Oct 4 '11 at 17:15

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Because an internal or a hosted Wiki can do the same thing better, faster, free, and in a platform-independent way, without setup. SharePoint costs thousands and causes much pain. I do not want to get an email when some document was updated, but having an ability to permission things would be nice. There are ways to do that. I fill out my time-sheets on Share-point only because I have to, not because I like the system / interface. If you ever played with FogBugz products, you would raise the bar for how easy the software should be. If you pay for Sharepoint without MSDN license, you are dumb. –  Job Jan 21 '11 at 17:15
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Wiki? With MSO document storage and versioning? Hmm, I'd like to see a link to such a marvel. –  9000 Jan 21 '11 at 19:02
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Hi Ryan, Programmers.SE is not a discussion board; we're here to solve real problems you might be facing. Do you have an actual problem you're trying to solve with SharePoint? If so, can you reword your question to keep the answers constructive and out of the pitfalls of becoming a discussion? –  user8 Jan 21 '11 at 20:09
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@9000 Confluence by Atlassian handles Word documents with versioning and it's a stellar Wiki: atlassian.com/software/confluence –  Gary Rowe Jan 21 '11 at 20:33
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If you use SharePoint for what it's designed for, you don't need programmers. If you are a programmer, you realize sharepoint sucks at just about everything cause its poorly documented, large in scope, and has a nasty learning curve to do the most basic junk. –  P.Brian.Mackey Jan 21 '11 at 21:38
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14 Answers 14

up vote 45 down vote accepted

I think it can be summed up in a comment I once heard about VB. "It makes the simple things very simple, and the hard things impossible.".

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actually, some simple things that should be simple can be daunting –  Newtopian Mar 30 '11 at 16:08
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My experience with SharePoint was that, even for customizing simple things you had to tolerate many nightmares. +1 –  Saeed Neamati Oct 5 '11 at 4:53
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lol. Because it's not code, it's horse manure. It's a complete pile of stinky horse manure. It's a joke. Unfortunately I have to dodge a lot of job opportunities because they even mention the word Sharepoint. I run run away. –  CoffeeAddict Nov 23 '11 at 2:15
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There are lots of reasons not to like SharePoint.

  1. It doesn't work with Firefox or Chrome. It sort of works, but it doesn't really. Same with Outlook vs. any other email client.
  2. It can't decide if sites are lists, document libraries, or some third thing. As a result navigation gets very jumbled, and if you choose wrong when setting up Sites, you're screwed.
  3. The page editor is SUPER clunky, interaction-wise.
  4. It's a straitjacket. If you want to do what it wants, you might be okay--IF you can figure out what SharePoint calls that. If you need to do something different, you are stuck paddling with a sieve.
  5. Its versioning system is so bad that it can only technically be considered a versioning system.
  6. It is ugly. It has no style. The screens just look garish, blocky, and unwelcoming. The effect of this cannot be underestimated. While this is customizable, that's a lot of extra effort.
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Not working in Firefox or Chrome is a big nono these days. Only reason I've installed IETab is to access my companies sharepoint sites. –  Carra Mar 6 '11 at 10:09
    
actually I use chrome to access sharepoint because it manages the password much better than IE does. My computer is not on the sharepoint domain and as such IE asks for password at every turn. it is quite frequent to give the password 5 to 7 times just to download a single file. With Chrome, I do it once and it's done. Sure there is that litte remember me check box but ticked or not I still get the same results. –  Newtopian Mar 29 '11 at 13:43
    
@Newtopian you can set a configuration parameter in Firefox to eliminate the password check. Chrome still doesn't let you do half of the SharePoint actions, however. –  Alex Feinman Mar 30 '11 at 15:57
    
I only need to see if a file has changed and if so get the new version. The less time i spend there the better. Still, remarkable that the worst browser to use for such simple task would be the one it was created for ... this said, thanks for the Firefox hint, i will look into that. –  Newtopian Mar 30 '11 at 16:03
    
SharePoint 2010 is a lot more compatable with Firefox and Chrome than its predecessors were. It's not 100%, but if you're basing your comment on a previous version, you should look at 2010. –  Kyle Trauberman Apr 5 '11 at 20:54
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I think you answered it when you said

My experience is that SharePoint only gets really ugly when an organization tries to push it in a direction it isn't designed for

Companies seem to tend to bring in the product expecting it to be a magic bullet that will quickly reduce their staff of developers. And of course when trying to do this it gets very frustrating. I agree with you, if you keep within its intended domain it works well.

BTW this certainly isn't unique to SharePoint. This happens with many if not all vended packages. Its apparently very hard for customers to stay within the bounds of the product.

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The result of SharePoint being implemented at my office was the resignation of 4 developers who despise the platform, so I suppose that worked... –  Ant Mar 6 '11 at 8:42
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The problem is I can't figure out what sort of domain it was actually intended for in the beginning... Document storage? Knowledge sharing? Version control? Because it does all of those things terribly. –  weberc2 Oct 9 '13 at 21:36
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My biggest problem with Sharepoint is more fundamental. I think it tries to solve the wrong problem.

Many enterprises that use it were heavy users of papers, form for this, document for that etc. Then came computers so they created word documents instead, an improvement for sure but very quickly things started to get messy again and Sharepoint came to the rescue trying to manage the documents....

well that`s just it.... why so many documents to begin with...

forms can be made into an Intranet form directly feeding a database. Instead I have to fill an excel sheet, print it, have someone sign it, have someone else sign it, have someone then take the printed document and manually enter again to track the information... all these tasks, including signatures, can be made with intranet forms and digital signature making things much more efficient.

Another example where a quick document to explain how to work around a known bug in a product that will not get fixed for a while still.... Quickly entering a phrase in the related wiki page would seem like a natural option. Yet too often do I see someone starting word, writing two or three lines and storing the document on an obscure corner of the SharePoint site then slapping it back at you with the eternal "but it's documented". I have seen this get to a point where such document are often considered proper bug fix !!

To conclude I think Sharepoint just enforce these bad habits and with time create a monster that was much worst that it was meant to tame in the first place. With a Wiki, few well placed forms and a well designed intranet I expect the need to use a word processor or spreadsheet becomes almost nil. Since this is what Sharepoint is good for, well, if you do your things right it will be good for nothing.

In my opinion there are two possible scenarios that get Sharepoint installed :

1 - Because it's free with the MSDN subscription/gold partner/christmas present

or

2 - Because the person paying for it is not the person that will eventually use it.

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I agree with Ryan, a different angle than the rest and a good one. Making documents electronic is not removing documentation, it is just digitizing it. –  Orbling Jan 21 '11 at 21:51
    
MS Office has an offering to solve the 'online forms' issue - I think it's called InfoPath, but I've never seen anyone use it. –  JBRWilkinson Mar 7 '11 at 0:41
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I'm almost certain that sharepoint gets installed because WSS/SP Foundation is free. No MSDN needed. It gets paid for because investment gets made on the free version, then you want that 1 extra feature and bam... pony up. –  Steve Evers Mar 30 '11 at 16:29
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Admitted I have never worked with SharePoint but what I've heard many times mainly revolves around two things:

  1. A large heavy-weight system designed to become an ultimate solution to all information management problems. As a consequence it didn't perform any of the intended functions really well, but all of them on the average level. People got disappointed.

  2. Low-quality documentation leaving developers to learn and understand the system through a painful process of debugging, trying, guessing and experimenting. Developers got frustrated.

That more or less summarizes the opinions on SharePoint.


Extra reading:

What are your biggest complaints about Sharepoint?

How good/bad is sharepoint programming?

Sharepoint 2007: what do developers need to know?

Is Sharepoint good or bad from the career perspective?

Something Good & Something Bad about SharePoint

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I'm surprised about the documentation problem. My experience is that Microsoft has usually had much better documentation than others (IBM, Sun, sometimes Oracle,...). –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 21 '11 at 16:56
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I've always been disappointed with Microsoft documentation. The simple stuff is always documented well, but as you get outside the simple stuff the documentation only states the obvious. That's been my experience from back in the C++/MFC days to now. –  Berin Loritsch Jan 21 '11 at 17:30
    
@Berin Loritsch: I agree with you, the documentation for M$ development software is woeful at best. There always seems to be a lot of it, but it says precious little. I find this is not uncommon with proprietary tools. –  Orbling Jan 21 '11 at 20:43
    
I can completely relate to the low-quality documentation. I develop on a few different platforms and Sharepoint doco is the worst I've come across. –  Rudiger Feb 17 '11 at 0:24
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"Enterprise roach motel for word files" sums it up best. It's frequently used as data dump, not as the communication hub it was intended. Unlike a Wiki solution it's often set up with restrictive permissions in lieu of wider user training (which it very much requires). And if you lock out the people with an actual interest in organizing, it's a certain guarantee for failure. And on top of that it's a nightmare for IT support (this is the angle from where I perceived it).

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It is hugely difficult to do anything out of the ordinary in SharePoint. Even basic tasks such as the automated provisioning of pages can require knowledge of Visual Studio, Powershell, Powershell scripting, XML, etc. Pretty much the only people that can do this within an organisation are its developers.

Now here's my issue with SharePoint - creating SharePoint features isn't development. It is administration. Creating most things with SharePoint is something that a web admin should be able to do, but it's all so massively overcomplicated that web admins can't do it. For a developer, web administration is mind-numbingly dull.

SharePoint is just difficult and boring.

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Spot on. I'm a developer. I've done a lot of web app development, as well as development on the Dynamics CRM platform. In comparison, SharePoint is just difficult in the wrong way. I never feel like I am doing any real development. My mind is constantly occupied solving problems with SharePoint itself. I will fly through the development only to spend a majority of my time solving SP issues. I essentially feel my mind wasting away when I'm working with SP. I totally feel like a sys admin - which is not bad, it's just not what I like to do. –  p e p Mar 20 at 11:49
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Who is SharePoint sold to?

SharePoint is sold to business people that don't know how to approach something as a "Solution To A Problem" They take SharePoint and throw it at the wall, and hope it sticks. Then, they are the ones that drive the organization and feature sets into a pond, stuck forever.

This metaphorical pond is a technical debt position that people cannot recover from, and only effects the software maintenance organization by requiring them to throw more money at it ineffectively and hope for an upgrade that doesn't railroad them yet again, into a muckier pond.

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Out of the Box features are great. Once you start "manipulating" the out of the box features to do what you need, it gets challenging fast.

As stated above, it should only be used for what it was designed for. This is a problem though because managers think and push that the developer can handle the things SharePoint is not designed for, making them spend hours or even days researching solutions.

If a company wants to use SharePoint, they should research it completely. They often don't and any features they need gets pushed on the developer.

If you use SharePoint for what it's designed for, it really does work is so true. I wish the company I worked for used SharePoint what it was designed for and didn't want to add so many "features".

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Challenging? No, again it's just a pile. The Challenge is to learn not how to code...cause it's not coding, it's a joke. It insults our profession and what makes it worse all VPs and CEOs love it....yet they have no clue what lies lurking under the covers until BAM! it blows up in their face after x years when they realize they've poured hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions only to build a huge pile of stinking sh**. –  CoffeeAddict Nov 23 '11 at 2:18
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The top two problems I have with Sharepoint:

  • Out of the Box features work, but they aren't enough to justify the price.
  • Management thinks all things are Sharepoint's domain so when you ask for a server to host a bug database, you get "Oh use Sharepoint for that". One even dared to suggest using the shared files feature as a version control system for code. (It didn't take long to convince him he was wrong).

There are a number of smaller issues as well that seem to slip under most people's radar so it won't be unique to Sharepoint. One example being accessibility. Another being navigation.

Contrast this to something like a JIRA/Confluence/Subversion setup. You get proper tools for most of what you need to do, a better integration story, and a few other niceties for less money overall. Those products integrate very well, and integrate with a few other things (including Sharepoint). That configuration isn't perfect either, but I've had better experience with it than Sharepoint.

The only feature that I thought was "cool" about Sharepoint was being able to edit remote content in MS Office. Everything after that was a pain.

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Point two applies to Lotus Notes, too. –  Michael K Jan 21 '11 at 17:54
    
Confluence might integrate well with Jira, but that must be its only redeeming feature. We're talking about an "Enterprise" wiki with smileys enabled by default, for fsck's sake. –  niXar Jan 21 '11 at 18:13
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Manager is to Sharepoint as JQuery is to web developer. "You should just totally drop that and use Sharepoint!" –  Tim Post Jan 21 '11 at 18:44
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You first mention over-hype. Then you made this comment.

If you use SharePoint for what it's designed for, it really does work.

I think you have answered your own question. The dislike of SharePoint comes from the fact that it is typically sold/hyped as being capable of more than it is.

That doesn't mean there is something wrong with it, it just isn't marketed correctly.

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I would say that false marketing of a product, if by the makers, is a fault attributable to it, rather than something to consider separately. –  Orbling Jan 21 '11 at 20:46
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@Orb I agree with your statement, but most of the hype I have noticed about SharePoint have been from consultants trying to sell it and not directly from Microsoft. –  jzd Jan 21 '11 at 21:37
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Aye, the middlemen do tend to cause trouble for those at the top and bottom. –  Orbling Jan 21 '11 at 21:49
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There is no substitute for organization, There is no substitute for discipline. If you have them, you scarcely need SharePoint. If you don't, Sharepoint can't save you.

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Cost. Try pricing out a high performance two server cluster that is internet accessible. That's why people start looking for alternatives

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The main reason I hate it is because it is SO horribly designed. It's a massive configuration beast wrapped in layer after layer of opaque abstractions. It looks more like an attempt to find new revenue for old technology than a serious attempt to provide a decent solution. Frontpage, XML, web forms, CAML, MS Office, InfoPath, XML, XML, crap HTML, more Frontpage.

What year is it? Just base your content types on actual table definitions. Make it simple and work well like any modern CMS. Microsoft really sucks at innovation. Unfortunately, they still own the enterprise space.

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