Thursday, January 26, 2006

[Jonathan Kauffman] Taking the Show on the Road [Sharepoint Team Blog]


I just finished a couple weeks where I got to present our “12”-wave plans to internal and external groups.  I told audiences not only was I excited to talk about the new software, I was equally grateful to be released temporarily from the locked R&D lab and to sample the heady fragrances of the outer world.  (No actual sunshine of course – it is Seattle after all.)  Kidding aside, I see my family every night, but the teams are definitely starting to feel the burn as we try to get everything checked in, fixed, and polished for the public beta.


  • There were a number of applause moments from folks who are currently running (or supporting) the 2003-wave product when I showed how we'll be addressing their feature requests for item-level security, lower-cost disaster recovery options, workflow, more flexible authentication, etc.  The top moment was when I demonstrated fulltext search over customer data from our CRM system to about 750 technical field specialists and sales folks who have to find customer info every day.
  • We’ve put together some demos for how the new features and services interact; they’re fun to show.  It's all based on our private beta bits (pretty close to what we showed at the PDC) so I am looking forward to freshening these with newer code.
  • The "common platform" message is getting across – it’s easy to describe how all that approval and versioning stuff that worked in the document scenario works almost identically for web content, or how just like you can get an RSS feed to announcements on a team site, you can also get an RSS feed to reports in a report library, etc.
  • This is overall just a pleasant time-window for the engineering folks to describe their work – we’ve got “new” features to show, we’re still getting pats on the back for the stuff we’ve improved, but no one has had the serious time to find all the things we’ll be working on in the next release.  The honeymoon will end, but it’s nice while it lasts.


  • I still haven’t found the best way to get it all into an hour.  With the new investments in Business Intelligence, Forms, and Content Management on top of the enhancements to the 2003 stuff, it’s super hard to deliver the overview without making it feel like a content-free screen-a-minute whirlwind tour.  We still need to do a bunch of demo tuning to maximize the show:tell ratio.
  • Everyone wants to know the details of pricing, packaging, and naming.  We’re not ready to announce yet, not even within Microsoft.  It makes some folks grumpy, but the pain of saying “here it is” and then saying “nope, we were just kidding, here it is really” seems worse.  My “Bear with us, we’ll get there” message isn't too satisfying.

Other Top Questions I Heard

Q:  How will upgrade work (for SPS and WSS deployments.)?
A:  [short form]  You get to choose one of three ways:

  1. “In-place” for small deployments where you take the server down, press “upgrade” and voila in a few hours (or a weekend) all the content is upgraded in place to V3/”12”.
  2. “Gradually side-by-side” for larger deployments.  We run the old stuff and the new stuff on the same web front ends, and you move batches of sites at a time, with some clever URL-magic to make it look as seamless as possible.  It conserves hardware almost as well as in-place, but it’s more complicated.
  3. “Gradually across farms” for larger or rebuilt deployments.  Make a separate farm, and we'll pump upgrade content (again, in batches) into it.  You need more hardware, but it’s obviously the least disruptive to existing deployments.

Q:  How will the SharePoint web parts experience relate to the ASP.NET 2.0 web part framework?
A:  The new SharePoint releases (both Windows and Office) will just use the ASP.NET framework.  Old web parts will still run.

Q:  Will you do better with Firefox and Safari?
A:  Yes, they’re in our test matrix and we’re doing a bunch of work to make the experience more consistent across these and IE.  It won't be perfect but should be significantly improved from 2003 in the public beta.

-- Jonathan Kauffman, Group Program Manager, SharePoint Portal Server

[Sharepoint Team Blog]