March 11 2015

Article

Information Technology

The 5 secrets of a good SharePoint developer

SharePoint is the platform behind 24% of intranets in Quebec1. In fact, this particular solution outweighs both Lotus Notes and those developed in-house. Of course, this is not surprising when you consider that SharePoint offers much more than just content management. By using SharePoint, companies also benefit from collaboration tools, electronic document management, a corporate social network, and so much more!

Developers consider SharePoint a modern, attractive solution that is also incredibly flexible. But what are the secrets to really setting oneself apart from the rest? As a SharePoint developer myself, I would like to share my opinion on the subject, based on my many years of experience using this product. So, what exactly constitutes a good SharePoint developer?

1. He does not enjoy developing

SharePoint is, first and foremost, a software package. A good SharePoint developer must continually strive to meet the needs of users based on the native functionalities of the product. If the situation calls for creativity, it is even more important to use the true nature of SharePoint as one’s foundation. The less you customize SharePoint, the fewer issues you’ll encounter with performance and the less risk you’ll have when migrating to later versions. You’ll be surprised to discover all of the native functionalities SharePoint has to offer, but it’s important to take the time to get to know them inside out.

2. He is an advanced SharePoint user

One cannot become a good SharePoint developer without first mastering SharePoint. Only by mastering the product can we ensure that our customizations are adequate and, above all, truly necessary. After all, we’re not trying to re-invent the wheel!

3. He respects the nature of SharePoint

A colleague once told me: “Just because we can develop something for SharePoint doesn’t mean we have to.” He may not be aware of it, but this particular colleague has forever changed the approach I use when customizing SharePoint. Essentially, what you develop for SharePoint has to seem natural and native to the platform. Get to know the starting points that are available to you (ribbon, shortcut menus, functionalities, etc.).

SharePoint is a content management system for your Web site or intranet. It is an excellent document vault capable of protecting your company’s information heritage. It is also an exemplary collaboration platform that helps your employees gain productivity. At the same time, SharePoint is probably not the ideal tool for sending out birthday cards, even though it is quite capable of doing so!

Another important point : SharePoint is not a substitute for a relational database. A SharePoint list may be similar in structure to the tables of a database, but you should definitely worry if you start experiencing strong dependencies between several lists! Although relationships exist, they should not be used to house or structure data from another system.

4. He is aware of good practices

To be a good SharePoint developer, simply mastering C# or VB.Net is not enough. Failing to adhere to good SharePoint practices could result in serious performance issues. In fact, the vast majority of instabilities experienced with the platform are due to customization. And, you definitely don’t want to be the one responsible for preventing access to your company’s document vault.

5. He knows the third-party tools and applications available

In relation to the first point, a good SharePoint develop must avoid maintaining source code. SharePoint is a mature product and the majority of its most common shortcomings have been resolved using third-party products, whether these are Web Parts, application tools, functionalities, etc. It is likely more cost-effective for your company (and better for your well-being) to obtain such a product than to undertake a customization on your own and have to ensure the required maintenance.

6. BONUS! He is versatile

There are lots of tools available to help you customize SharePoint. These include SharePoint Designer and, of course, Visual Studio as well as countless technologies such as: .Net, JavaScript, HTML5 et le XSL.

In order to unleash your creativity and stand out from the rest, you have to master them all—no more and no less!

To find out more about SharePoint development, I invite you to register for Course MS539 – Introduction to SharePoint Development, during which you will learn different ways to customize this product. In the meantime, Happy Developing!

1 CEFRIO - Les Intranets et leur écosystème, August 28, 2014