Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Email and SharePoint are not Competitors

A discussion following on from a presentation I recently attended (on the use of SharePoint in business) raised the opinion that email is a competitor to SharePoint in terms of business use. The basis of the argument was that people in an organisation either can use SharePoint for their collaboration or they can use email.

I disagree. SharePoint is now very much email-enabled, with the ability to send alerts or emails from custom code, and to receive emails into lists. The ideas in the discussion may have been based on the belief that users are required to interact with the data contained in a SharePoint site only through the site's web pages.

Certainly the users will need to perform some actions through web pages, but it is possible without much work at all to implement a business process in SharePoint in such a way that the users can continue to use emails for many of the operations they perform. An email sent to a SharePoint list can be interpreted by event handlers on the list, which could act on information in the email and add or edit data in the list.

What I have found is that architecting solutions in SharePoint requires a different vision than when developing in ASP.Net. One of the key points is to build on SharePoint's strengths - think about using lists for storing data (for example, store temporary data for an application in a list rather than in a database table).

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