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We just started using Sharepoint and I was wondering what is the possible benefit of using Sharepoint as opposed to a version control tool like VSS? Except the thin client/thick client thing

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Just use a wiki. –  Job Mar 13 '11 at 3:17
Sharepoint has/is a Wiki - amongst other things –  Murph Mar 13 '11 at 10:47
@Murph - using Sharepoint as a Wiki is like using MsWord as HTML editor –  Newtopian Mar 14 '11 at 5:10
@Newtopian erm, no, actually it isn't - since sharepoint works quite well as a wiki whereas word is a really bad HTML editor... It is - I will happily concede - overkill if that's all you use it for. Point is that the question lacks detail (which bits of sharepoint for what) and the comment makes assumptions (that are probably poor since sharepoint also includes a version control system of a sort). –  Murph Mar 14 '11 at 9:17
@Victor - what is it suggested that sharepoint be used for in context? –  Murph Mar 14 '11 at 9:19
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closed as not a real question by Jim G., Robert Harvey, Mark Trapp Sep 27 '11 at 3:54

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7 Answers

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Presonally I found nothing in Sharepoint that I could not do in half the time with a simple wiki (media wiki, xwiki etc).

Yes, sure, sharepoint is like the mega swiss army knife. However, when using a swiss army knife I found myself using the same tool 95% of the time and the rest only very rarely. So I'd rather stick with a good single use knife and get a different tool for the remaining 5%.

All the wrongs Sharepoint has can probably be fixed with the proper configuration, the question then becomes, how much resources you want to put configuring your tool to get it working just perfectly ? Personally if I can avoid staffing a whole new department to configure, maintain and enhance Sharepoint where one boring friday afternoon installing [media wiki| replace with your favoured wiki engine] on a virtual machine will do the trick for almost all the documentation needs.

Given the alternatives I consider usage of MsWord(or any other word processor for that matter) as much a smell that you are doing it wrong as using staticlly defined variables and methods (in C++ or java for example). They have their use, but you can almost always find a better way to do things.

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the main benefit of selling sharepoint to a customer is the same one as that of selling SAP to a customer: a lifetime of very expensive support contracts.

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+1 Can you say nail on the head? –  Adam Mar 24 '11 at 20:24
I'd downvote this answer if I had sufficient reputation. It adds absolutely nothing to an intelligent discussion of the benefits (or otherwise) of SharePoint. Granted, I'm sure there are many customers who just "want SharePoint" because they heard it's really awesome. –  Mike H Jul 11 '11 at 3:25
it's the actual benefit of Sharepoint to the supplier, Mike... If you don't like that, so be it. –  jwenting Jul 11 '11 at 6:43
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Well, first off, I would suggest not using it as a repository in the same way as VSS (I would also suggest not using VSS...but that's another answer). It does have versioning, but that should be used for things like Word documents, presentations, etc. It's not made to be a repository for code. It's apples and oranges. If you want benefits of SharePoint for communication/collaboration I would check the SharePoint site or SharePointOverflow.com for more specific help on the subject.

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The benefits of SharePoint can be vast. It's not just version control for documents (see below) but it's collaboration tools, empowering users to create custom content, content publishing, presentation of data from outside sources. It has site templates for blogs and wikis and each of these have their own capabililites around workflow, information policies, records management, etc. all served up in your browser with the option to take content offline with Microsoft Office.

In short, it's an entire eco-system that can power your entire intranet and that's what it's really designed for. Think Drupal, DotNetNuke, WordPress, etc. so it can do many things. Some very well, some not so much. The benefits are really measured by what you need in your organization or team and depending on a lot of factors it could be useful to you or not.

SharePoint document libraries and list items allow for version control but they're just that. Versioning on documents or items. So while you could say that source code files are documents and versioning is versioning, SharePoint offers none of the features a real VCS needs. There is no way to diff versions, produce deltas, create tags or branches, etc. It has very limited support for versioning (either major 1, 2, 3, or major/minor 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, etc.) but these are primarily used in a publishing model. You can replace the current version of a document with a previous one but it's a full-on replacement and again is geared for publishing not source code. In addition you cannot perform any operations on more than one file. Just use a real source control system (VSS, SVN, Git, Mercurial, etc.). The right tool for the right job.

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+1 Thanks Bil for posting the most useful response on this thread. –  Mike H Jul 11 '11 at 3:26
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The possible benefit of using Share Point as opposed to a version control tool like VSS?

[Assuming you mean for version control of source code]

In a lot of ways it would be like downloading a flash-light app to your smart-phone then gluing it to the ceiling instead of a light fixture. It will get the job done, the result won't be as good, the setup will be a lot more complicated, you won't likely have the features you really need (wall switch) without elaborate contraptions, and it will be far more expensive than something engineered for your usage scenario.

Possible benefits.
* If you are paid hourly, expect to get a lot of overtime while you spend all the extra time on things that are no-brainers for people using the right tool.
* You will probably wind up practically building an SCM tool from the ground up based on SharePoint to make this work. You could probably make a fortune selling it to large enterprises who get wood over anything SharePoint and like to torture their developers (a two-fer!)

[Assuming you are talking about using it for Project Documentation]
Yeah sure, if you already have an installation it works pretty well for this. We use it this way in our development shop and it works fine. The alerts when documents change are really nice as are the wiki and discussion board features. I'm not sure I would install it SOLELY for the purpose of managing a development effort, but if your company already has it, it works okay.

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SharePoint is much more than a repository, it is closer to a CMS (content management system) and Web site rolled into one. Plus it has workflows. And Wikis.

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SharePoint is a document management system. The fact that it can be used as a CMS is like saying you can use a hammer to bash in screws. Yes, it works, but there are better tools out there to do it. –  Ant Mar 24 '11 at 19:25
@Ant - reminds me of the old adage "when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a thumb" –  LRE Apr 20 '11 at 23:33
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Sharepoint's major advantage is as a platform for building applications, and for deploying integrated solutions that can integrate with one another. Sharepoint provides a platform for lots of separate products to work with one another (web parts, etc).

At a law firm deployment, we used Sharepoint (for example) to build a dashboard that displayed financial data from one system, corporate and other legal data from other systems, and so forth. Because various vendor products all were built with the Sharepoint platform in mind, it made integration much easier.

Sharepoint has some extremely powerful administrative capabilities. For example, it's almost a single-click to deploy an application update to 10 front-end servers.

On the flip side, Sharepoint has a notoriously difficult learning curve, and more often than not, things that seem like they should be easy are not at all. Sharepoint 2010 is a drastic improvement over previous versions, but there are still some strange things here and there.

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