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What is SharePoint?

From: SharePoint 2010 Essential Training

Video: What is SharePoint?

Most people find it hard to wrap their head around SharePoint and you might be one of those people. Perhaps you've been playing with this thing called SharePoint for a while and you don't really get it yet, you're waiting for that one simple description, that one simple sentence that will suddenly make it all make sense. Now you won't get that one sentence from me, because SharePoint isn't a simple thing to explain. That's because SharePoint isn't one thing. SharePoint is not a program. It's a platform. It's a collection of many very different products and technologies, all wrapped up and given a name.

What is SharePoint?

Most people find it hard to wrap their head around SharePoint and you might be one of those people. Perhaps you've been playing with this thing called SharePoint for a while and you don't really get it yet, you're waiting for that one simple description, that one simple sentence that will suddenly make it all make sense. Now you won't get that one sentence from me, because SharePoint isn't a simple thing to explain. That's because SharePoint isn't one thing. SharePoint is not a program. It's a platform. It's a collection of many very different products and technologies, all wrapped up and given a name.

And from one perspective, learning SharePoint is like learning Microsoft Office. You don't. You don't really learn Office. You learn Word then Excel, then Outlook and so on. And in the same way you don't just learn SharePoint. It's a massive, massive set of solutions of different things you can do with this platform. And with every version of SharePoint, Microsoft has added more and more to it. When you learn the different things it does, you'll pick and choose your own combinations, the things that are meaningful to you. However, it is a little different, because SharePoint is a server product.

You don't install SharePoint on your own desktop or laptop. It's installed on your backend systems and shared across your network. You connect to it. Now there are some associated programs that can install on your desktop, things like SharePoint Designer and SharePoint Workspace, though you don't always need them, because the most common ways you'll talk to SharePoint are either using a Microsoft Office program-- Office loves SharePoint and the feeling is mutual-- or just by opening up a web browser to talk to SharePoint.

But if you are new to this, it still doesn't tell you much. Okay, it's big. It's installed on a server, but what does it do? Well, Microsoft talks about SharePoint is having six different areas. Sites, Communities, Content, Search, Insights and Composites, but that's not all that helpful yet. This is jargon, this is SharePoint speak. Sure, we know what these words mean, but these are terms that don't really make sense in a product until we've gone a little deeper. So what I'd like to do is give you my version of this, that first off SharePoint makes websites.

SharePoint makes websites. It's a massive website engine. You tell SharePoint I need a website. Bang! You have one. Make another, bang! You get another. You don't need special programs. You don't need to be a web designer. You don't need to be a programmer. What are those websites? Well, one might be a website just for you. Another could be a website for your team, another could be a website for your company, another could be a website for the world to see, and you might be involved in creating these websites or you might just use SharePoint sites other people have made, but SharePoint makes websites.

Now unlike most websites out there on the Internet where you just read them, most websites that SharePoint makes are designed for you to be a contributor, to change them, to edit them, to join in, and that takes us to the second principle. SharePoint helps you work with other people, and maybe that's just you and one other person working on a Word document at the same time. SharePoint can let you do that. Perhaps you want a company-wide Wikipedia or knowledge base, easily editable by a hundred people.

SharePoint can do that too. It can give you shared calendars, it can give you shared task lists, discussion boards. SharePoint will do all of this. It keeps track of immense amounts of content and can let you know when things change. The idea of collaboration is built into this thing and that's because you're able to take all the content that makes up your organization's day-to-day operations, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, agendas, images, audio, video even databases and take all of it and upload it all into SharePoint.

And that's because SharePoint gives you a place to put your content, a place to put your stuff. Instead of saving it in local folders or on a network share driver, or emailing back and forth to people, you put it all into SharePoint. That's where it goes. Some of that content can be in places where it's super controlled, monitored, audited, available to just a few people, where you can only put certain types of content. Another part could be a free- for-all dumping ground, if you want that. You could put everything in there. And this doesn't add drag to your system.

You continue to work seamlessly the way you used to. You are simply saving everything in SharePoint rather than on your own drive. You create a document on your desktop, Bob makes an update to it on a meeting in his laptop, Alex accesses it later on a mobile device, without worrying about how it gets from one to the other. You can even edit it within the web browser itself. It's all in SharePoint. Now obviously after a while, we can end up with a lot of stuff and a lot of people working together on that stuff. Well, the danger is it that we can't find anything.

So the next part of SharePoint is dealing with search. SharePoint lets you search your stuff. It's got a massive super smart search engine built into it. This is not some tacted-on afterthought. It's an excellent and complex search engine that not only allows you to search your own content in multiple ways, it will let you search people, and it will do this whole securely, so no one gets access to anything they shouldn't. Now, all of these things would be useful, but not compelling, if you could still only work with your content in the old conventional ways, but in the next part, Insights, SharePoint helps you bring all your information together and not just bring it together, but bring it together to understand it better, to organize and make sense of immense amounts of content, taking different kinds of things, spreadsheets and blogs and business intelligence systems, and presenting it in a way that make sense.

In advanced situations you're going to be building dashboards and scorecards and Visio diagrams automatically updated in real-time with information inside SharePoint. If you're watching this, whatever your job is, you are almost certainly a knowledge worker. You're paid to use your brain, not to do manual labor, and that means you make decisions and that means you need to data, not buried in 10 different locations, but right there combined the way you want it in front of your face. SharePoint helps you bring that information together.

And when all of that isn't enough, SharePoint helps you build on top of itself. No platform, no program, no operating system can know exactly what you need. So SharePoint has fantastic capabilities to be extended. It's meant to be extended and customized, and you don't have to be a programmer. Using programs like SharePoint designer and in Visio you can build custom workflows and forms without code, and if you do know code, you can do even more. And SharePoint can also talk to your legacy applications and databases.

It can read their data and allow you to have access to view and use it within SharePoint. Always controlled, always secured. Now if all this seems like a lot, you're absolutely right and the attitude to take more than anything, SharePoint is not a program. It's not a solution to a problem. It is a platform that you will use to build a hundred solutions to a hundred different problems, and that's why it can be hard to wrap your head around it, because it's different for you than it is for anyone else.

But SharePoint makes websites. It helps you work with other people. It gives you a place to put your stuff. It gives you a way to search all that stuff. It helps you bring it together and understand it better and it helps you build and extend it. Now many of these pieces are deep enough that you could spend months with them and never see everything. You might end up living in the Site section, building a public website with SharePoint. You might live in the Composite section, building workflows or applications on top of SharePoint. You might live in Insights, building dashboards and scorecards to understand your information better, or you might just save some of your documents into SharePoint and use it when you need it.

It's all good, but by the time you're done with the next few hours, you'll have seen enough of all the major features to know if you want to go deeper and when you do, the best ways to do it.

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This video is part of

Image for SharePoint 2010 Essential Training
SharePoint 2010 Essential Training

70 video lessons · 47954 viewers

Simon Allardice
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 16m 34s
    1. What is SharePoint?
      8m 9s
    2. SharePoint roles
      2m 5s
    3. Accessing SharePoint
      4m 48s
    4. The SharePoint product line
      1m 32s
  3. 44m 55s
    1. What is a team site?
      2m 43s
    2. Navigating a team site
      9m 41s
    3. Using team site lists and libraries
      11m 38s
    4. Editing the home page
      9m 31s
    5. Adding a Web Part
      6m 19s
    6. Deleting a Web Part
      5m 3s
  4. 10m 53s
    1. What is a Document Workspace?
      4m 2s
    2. Creating a Document Workspace
      4m 3s
    3. Deleting a Document Workspace
      2m 48s
  5. 6m 3s
    1. What is a Meeting Workspace?
      2m 7s
    2. Creating a Meeting Workspace
      2m 40s
    3. Deleting a Meeting Workspace
      1m 16s
  6. 36m 3s
    1. Exploring the available lists
      5m 30s
    2. Creating a custom list
      8m 44s
    3. Creating a custom view
      6m 43s
    4. Working with libraries
      6m 18s
    5. Using versioning and Check In/Check Out
      8m 48s
  7. 45m 55s
    1. SharePoint and Word
      6m 6s
    2. SharePoint and Outlook
      7m 38s
    3. SharePoint and Excel
      3m 54s
    4. SharePoint and Access
      2m 58s
    5. SharePoint and InfoPath
      11m 42s
    6. SharePoint and PowerPoint
      3m 46s
    7. SharePoint and Visio
      6m 20s
    8. Using SharePoint Workspace
      3m 31s
  8. 32m 8s
    1. What is a site collection?
      3m 56s
    2. Creating a site collection
      6m 35s
    3. Creating a new site
      6m 29s
    4. Customizing a site
      7m 47s
    5. Creating a site template
      7m 21s
  9. 13m 53s
    1. Understanding permissions
      3m 33s
    2. Adding a user to a site
      5m 14s
    3. Deleting a user from a site
      1m 39s
    4. Creating a new security group
      3m 27s
  10. 31m 54s
    1. Using out-of-the-box workflows
      11m 1s
    2. Creating your own workflows with SharePoint Designer
      15m 20s
    3. Creating your own workflows with Visio
      5m 33s
  11. 40m 36s
    1. Using site templates
      5m 49s
    2. Using the web content management features
      10m 40s
    3. Using master pages
      3m 37s
    4. Creating an Enterprise Wiki
      7m 14s
    5. Sharing an Access database with Access Services
      7m 19s
    6. Working with rich media
      5m 57s
  12. 53m 9s
    1. Managing documents and records
      3m 0s
    2. What are content types?
      4m 22s
    3. Creating a content type
      11m 30s
    4. What are document sets?
      2m 12s
    5. Creating document sets
      7m 49s
    6. Creating a Document Center
      4m 37s
    7. Creating a Record Center
      8m 25s
    8. Defining information management policy
      11m 14s
  13. 15m 42s
    1. Using personal and social features
      7m 28s
    2. Creating a SharePoint blog
      2m 48s
    3. Personalizing SharePoint with tags and notes
      5m 26s
  14. 21m 22s
    1. Searching in SharePoint
      4m 26s
    2. Creating a Search Center
      8m 4s
    3. Customizing Search with keywords
      3m 30s
    4. Customizing Search with scopes
      5m 22s
  15. 47m 18s
    1. Using Excel Services
      10m 12s
    2. Creating a Business Intelligence Center
      3m 5s
    3. Using PerformancePoint Services
      12m 3s
    4. Using status indicators
      8m 10s
    5. Using the Chart Web Parts
      6m 33s
    6. Using Business Connectivity Services (BCS)
      7m 15s
  16. 1m 3s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 3s

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