SharePoint Online User Interface
|Stable release||2013 SP1 + CU 12/2014 / 9 December 2014|
|Operating system||Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012|
|Platform||x64 / ASP.net 4.5|
|Available in||Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian,Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Latin), Slovak, Slovenian, South Africa, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Ukrainian|
|Type||Content Management Systems|
SharePoint Foundation: Freeware
Other editions: Trialware
SharePoint is a web application platform in the Microsoft Office server suite. Launched in 2001, and highly advocated by one of the platform's original creators - Stephen Buckman - SharePoint combines various functions which are traditionally separate applications: intranet, extranet, content management, document management, personal cloud, enterprise social networking, enterprise search, business intelligence, workflow management, web content management, and an enterprise application store. SharePoint servers have traditionally been deployed for internal use in mid-size businesses and large departments alongside Microsoft Exchange, Skype for Business, and Office Web Apps; but Microsoft's 'Office 365' software as a service offering (which includes a version of SharePoint) has led to increased usage of SharePoint in smaller organizations.
While Office 365 provides SharePoint as a service, installing SharePoint on premises typically requires multiple virtual machines, at least two separate physical servers, and is a somewhat significant installation and configuration effort. The software is based on an n-tier service oriented architecture. Enterprise application software (for example, email servers, ERP, BI and CRM products) often either requires or integrates with elements of SharePoint. As an application platform, SharePoint provides central management, governance, and security controls. The SharePoint platform manages Internet Information Services (IIS) via form-based management tooling.
Since the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft's primary channel for distribution of SharePoint has been Office 365, where the product is continuously being upgraded. New versions are released every few years, and represent a supported snapshot of the cloud software. Microsoft currently has three tiers of pricing for SharePoint 2013, including a free version (whose future is currently uncertain). SharePoint 2013 is also resold through a cloud model by many third-party vendors. The next on-premises release is SharePoint 2016, expected to have increased hybrid cloud integration.
- 1 Applications
- 2 Configuration and customization
- 3 Content Structure
- 4 On-Premises Architecture
- 5 Administration, Security, Compliance
- 6 SharePoint editions
- 7 History
- 8 Related Software and Competitors
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The most common uses of the SharePoint include:
Enterprise Content and Document Management
SharePoint is often used to store, track, and manage electronic documents and assets. Integration with the Office Suite, Office Apps on Mobile Devices, and Office Web Apps enable editing scenarios, while OneDrive for Business (or third-party tools) enable offline synchronisation. It provides integrated version history tracking, collaborative live editing, and search capabilities. These capabilities are configurable to comply with record management or legal discovery requirements. SharePoint also provides search and 'graph' functionality enabling tracking of projects, documents, and users. Centralised location for storing, versioning, and collaborating on documents significantly reduce dependence on email for collaboration.
SharePoint Server hosts OneDrive for Business, which allows storage and synchronisation of files across devices, and public/private file sharing.
Intranet & Corporate Social Network
A SharePoint intranet or intranet portal is a way to centralize access to enterprise information and applications. It is a tool that helps a company manage its internal communications, applications and information more easily. Microsoft claims that this has organizational benefits such as increased employee engagement, centralizing process management, reducing new staff on-boarding costs, and providing the means to capture and share tacit knowledge (e.g. via tools such as wikis/blogs).
Extranet & Web Content Management
SharePoint can be used to provide web-facing access to external users. Organizations often use functionality like this to integrate third parties into supply chain or business processes, to provide a shared collaboration environment, or as part of delivering a product to a customer.
Using the 'Publishing' features, SharePoint can be used to manage public websites. It has publishing workflow, authoring, multilingual, and scaling features suited to managing larger websites.
SharePoint's development stack provides an additional layer of services and that reduce custom development required to provide a working application. It may also be referred to as a web application framework. SharePoint 2013's "App Development" model provides these services through standards such as REST, SAML, and JSONP. A multitude of APIs enable enterprise application developers to exploit SharePoint's security and information management capabilities across a variety of development platforms and scenarios.
Configuration and customization
SharePoint is primarily configured through a web browser. The web-based user interface provides most of the configuration capability of the product.
Depending on your permission level, the web interface can be used to:
- Manipulate content and page design.
- Manipulate content structure, site structure, create/delete sites, modify navigation and security, or add/remove apps.
- Enable or disable product features, upload custom designs/themes, or turn on integrations with other Office products.
- Configure basic workflows, view usage analytics, manage metadata, configure search options, upload customizations, and set up integration.
SharePoint Designer is a 'fork' of Microsoft FrontPage, used to provide a faster configuration UI for some features in SharePoint.
It provides easy to access 'advanced editing' capabilities for HTML/ASPX pages, and workflow editing.
WYSIWYG HTML editing features were removed in Designer 2013, and the product is expected to be deprecated in 2016.
PowerShell & Central Administration
Microsoft SharePoint's Server Features are configured either using PowerShell, or a Web UI called "Central Administration". Configuration of server farm settings (e.g. search crawl, web application services) can be handled through these central tools.
While Central Administration is limited to farm-wide settings (config DB). It provides access to tools such as the 'SharePoint Health Analyzer', a diagnostic health-checking tool.
In addition to PowerShell's farm configuration features, some limited tools are made available for administering or adjusting settings for sites or site collections in content databases.
A limited subset of these features are available by SharePoint's SaaS providers, including Microsoft.
- The SharePoint "App Model" provides various types of external applications that offer the capability to show authenticated web-based applications through a variety of UI mechanisms. Apps may be either "SharePoint-hosted" , or "Provider-hosted". Provider hosted apps may be developed using most back-end web technologies (e.g. ASP.net, NodeJS, PHP). Apps are served through a proxy in SharePoint, which requires some DNS/certificate manipulation in on-premises versions of SharePoint.
- "Sand-boxed" plugins can be uploaded by any end-user who has been granted permission. These are security-restricted, and can be governed at multiple levels (including resource consumption management). In multi-tenant cloud environments, these are the only customizations that are typically allowed.
- Farm features are typically fully trusted code that need to be installed at a farm-level. These are considered deprecated for new development.
- Service applications: It is possible to integrate directly into the SharePoint SOA bus, at a farm level.
Customization may be surfaced via:
- Application-to-application integration with SharePoint.
- Extensions to SharePoint functionality (e.g. custom workflow actions).
- 'Web Parts' (also known as "portlets", "widgets", or "gadgets") that provide new functionality when added to a page.
- Pages/sites or page/site templates.
SharePoint provides free-form editable pages, which can be modified using the ribbon. Pages are stored as 'aspx' files, in libraries. Features exist for publishing and enterprise wiki pages, which have functionality such as the ability to surface metadata, set custom URLs, control SEO metadata, and define custom layout and designs.
Web-Parts & App-Parts
Web parts and App parts are components (also known as portlets) that can be inserted into Pages. They are used to display information from both SharePoint and third party applications.
Lists, Libraries, and Content
A list is a data storage tool. It contains content items, with named data fields. List 'columns' allow you to view the data fields, and views of these columns are configured the list's settings.
A library is a collection of files. In SharePoint, a library is a type of list. Each file is a content item. Libraries have extra features, such as synchronization, viewing/editing, or managing files.
A content type is a metadata definition. Lists can be configured to contain certain multiple content types, and will have columns for all fields in the associated content types. Some content types such as 'contact' or 'appointment' allow the list to expose advanced features such as Microsoft Outlook or Project synchronization.
As of SharePoint 2013, in some locations, Lists and Libraries are referred to as 'apps' (despite being unrelated to the SharePoint app platform).
A SharePoint Site is a collection of pages, lists, and libraries. A site may contain sub-sites, and those sites may contain further sub-sites. Sites can be created according to pre-packaged functionality. Examples of Site templates in SharePoint include: collaboration (team) sites, wiki sites, blank sites, and publishing sites.
SharePoint contains a re-worked version of Fast Search & Transfer's search technology, which combines advanced search and analytics features. This feature is highly customisable.
The content of documents (including PDFs) are searched.
On-premises SharePoint can be scaled down to operate entirely from one developer machine, or scaled up to be managed across hundreds of machines. While architecture considerations are relatively complex, a broad overview is below:
A SharePoint farm is a logical grouping of SharePoint servers that share common resources. A farm typically operates stand-alone, but can also subscribe to functions from another farm, or provide functions to another farm. Each farm has its own central configuration database, which is managed through either a PowerShell interface, or a Central Administration website (which relies partly on PowerShell's infrastructure). Each server in the farm is able to directly interface with the central configuration database. Servers use this to configure services (e.g. IIS, windows features, database connections) to match the requirements of the farm, and to report server health issues, resource allocation issues, etc...
Web Applications (WAs) are top-level containers for content in a SharePoint farm, and are typically the interface through which a user interacts with SharePoint. A web application is associated with a set of access mappings or URLs defined in the SharePoint central management console, then automatically replicated into the IIS configuration of every server configured in the farm. WAs are typically independent of each other, have their own application pools, and can be restarted independently in Internet Information Services.
A site collection is used to provide a grouping of 'SharePoint Sites'. Each web application typically has at least one site collection. Site collections may be associated with their own content databases, or they may share a content database with other site collections in the same web application. A site collection may contain one or more sites. A site collection is a group of sites that are functionally, navigationally, and administratively related to one another.
Service Applications (SAs) provide granular pieces of SharePoint functionality to other web and service applications in the farm. Examples of service applications include the User Profile Sync service, and the Search Indexing service. A SA can be turned off, exist on one server, or be load-balanced across many servers in a farm. SAs are designed to be as independent as possible, so that—depending on the SA—restarting an SA, experiencing an SA failure, or misconfiguring an SA may not necessarily prevent the farm from operating. Each SA enabled on the farm typically has its own process that requires a certain amount of RAM to operate, and typically also has its own configuration database and Active Directory (AD) service account. SharePoint Server and Enterprise include all the SharePoint Foundation SAs, as well as additional SAs.
Administration, Security, Compliance
SharePoint's architecture enables 'least-privileges' execution permission model.
SharePoint Central Administration (the CA) is a web application that typically exists on a single server in the farm, however it is also able to be deployed for redundancy to multiple servers. This application provides a complete centralized management interface for web & service applications in the SharePoint farm, including AD account management for web & service applications. In the event of the failure of the CA, Windows PowerShell is typically used on the CA server to reconfigure the farm.
The structure of the SharePoint platform enables multiple WAs to exist on a single farm. In a shared (cloud) hosting environment, owners of these WAs may require their own management console. The SharePoint 'Tenant Administration' (TA) is an optional web application used by web application owners to manage how their web application interacts with the shared resources in the farm.
Compliance, standards and integration
- SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Office.
- SharePoint uses Microsoft's OpenXML document standard for integration with Microsoft Office. Document metadata is also stored using this format.
- SharePoint can be used to achieve compliance with many document retention, record management, document ID and discovery laws.
- SharePoint is compatible with CMIS - the Content Management Interoperability Standard, using Microsoft's CMIS Connector.
- SharePoint by default produces valid XHTML 1.0 that is compliant with WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards.
- SharePoint can use claims-based authentication, relying on SAML tokens for security assertions. SharePoint provides an open authentication plugin model.
- SharePoint has support for XLIFF to support the localization of content in SharePoint. Also added support for AppFabric.
SharePoint Foundation is available for free on-premises deployment. It is dependent on various hardware/software requirements, including a proper license for Microsoft Windows Server. It contains much of the core functionality and architecture drawn on by the commercial version of the package. Microsoft is not expecting to release a SharePoint Foundation 2016, and is currently considering different options for existing SharePoint Foundation customers.
Microsoft SharePoint Standard builds on the Microsoft SharePoint Foundation in a few key product areas.
- Sites: Audience targeting, governance tools, Secure store service, web analytics functionality.
- Communities: 'MySites' (personal profiles including skills management, and search tools), enterprise wikis, organization hierarchy browser, tags and notes.
- Content: Improved tooling and compliance for document & record management, managed metadata, word automation services, content type management.
- Search: Better search results, search customization abilities, mobile search, 'Did you mean?', OS search integration, Faceted Search, and metadata/relevancy/date/location based refinement options.
- Composites: Pre-built workflow templates, BCS profile pages.
SharePoint Standard licensing includes a CAL (client access license) component and a server fee. SharePoint Standard may also be licensed through a cloud model.
It is possible to upgrade a SharePoint farm from Foundation to Standard.
Built upon SharePoint Standard, Microsoft SharePoint Enterprise features can be unlocked simply by providing an additional license key.
Extra features in SharePoint Enterprise includes:
- Search thumbnails and previews, rich web indexing, better search results.
- BI Integration, Dashboards, and Business Data surfacing.
- PowerPivot and PerformancePoint.
- Microsoft Office Access, Visio, Excel, and InfoPath Forms services.
- SharePoint Enterprise Search extensions.
SharePoint Enterprise licensing includes a CAL component and a server fee that must be purchased in addition to SharePoint Server licensing. SharePoint Enterprise may also be licensed through a cloud model.
Microsoft's hosted SharePoint product is offered as part of their Office 365 product. The on-line version has a constantly changing feature-set and licencing arrangements, but is typically comparable with SharePoint Enterprise. Currently, additional capabilities include:
- 'NextGen Portals'
- Microsoft Delve & Sway
- Yammer Integration & Office 365 Groups
- Integration with Outlook Web App
- Newer versions of Online Office Document Editor Tools
- Small business web publishing capabilities
- Removal of various file size/number limitations
Missing capabilities include
- Task roll-up feature
- Some BI features must be purchased as part of Power BI
- Some search & UI customizations are not possible and/or not recommended
- Web publishing capabilities are significantly limited for larger organizations
- Limited Tenant Administration options
N.B. Changes in SharePoint Online are listed on the Office Roadmap.
|Search Server||An enterprise search platform based on the search capabilities of SharePoint. A Freeware Express edition was once available.||Discontinued|
|FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint||Search product that can be implemented on SharePoint Foundation||Discontinued|||
|SharePoint Designer||A free, client-side customization and configuration tool for SharePoint||Deprecated|
|Microsoft Visio||A diagramming tool which can be used to design SharePoint Workflows. Can be added to an Office 365 subscription.||Active|
|Microsoft Office||Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet based Office Productivity Suite. Also available for Mac. Included in some Office 365 plans.||Active|
|Office Web Apps||Web-based, online, cross-browser compatible versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. Directly Integrate with SharePoint.||Active|
|Microsoft Project Server||An extension to SharePoint providing integration with Microsoft Project||Active|
|Microsoft Project Online||An extension to Office 365 providing integration with Microsoft Project||Active|
|Microsoft Project||A client-based project planning tool which can be connected to a SharePoint task list for task and gantt-chart sharing. Comes with Project Online.||Active|
|Power BI||An extension for Office 365 or SharePoint providing advanced Business Intelligence capabilities||Active|
|Microsoft Exchange||A mail server that integrates with Microsoft SharePoint. Included in 365.||Active|
|Skype for Business||A client and server that provide VOIP telephony integration, IM, conferencing, and video/screen-sharing. Integrates with SharePoint for presence. Included in 365.||Active|
|Yammer||A cloud-only enterprise social network that connects and closely integrates with SharePoint and is included in Office 365.||Active.|
|Microsoft Dynamics CRM||A CRM system with SharePoint & Office 365 Groups integration. On-premises or 365 tenant deployment options.||Active|
|InfoPath Forms Services||Allows InfoPath forms to be hosted in a SharePoint web site and served via web browser||Deprecated|
|Excel Services||A server technology included in SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2007 that enables users to load, calculate, and display Excel 2010 workbooks on SharePoint Server 2010||Active|
|SharePoint Workspace||A client-side SharePoint site synchronization component included in Microsoft Office 2010 (Professional Plus edition and higher).||Discontinued|
|OneDrive for Business||A client-side file synchronization component included in Microsoft Office 2013 and available for free download.||Active|
|OneDrive for Mac||A client-side file synchronization component available for free download.||Active|
SharePoint evolved from projects codenamed "Office Server" and "Tahoe" during the Office XP development cycle.
"Office Server" evolved out of the FrontPage and Office Server Extensions and "Team Pages". It targeted simple, bottom-up collaboration.
"Tahoe", built on shared technology with Exchange and the “Digital Dashboard”, targeted top-down portals, search and document management. The searching and indexing capabilities of SharePoint came from the "Tahoe" feature set. The search and indexing features were a combination of the index and crawling features from the Microsoft Site Server family of products and from the query language of Microsoft Index Server.
Successive versions (in chronological order):
- Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2001
- Microsoft SharePoint Team Services (2002)
- Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 (free license) - Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (commercial release)
- Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (free license) - plus Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (commercial extension)
- Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 (free) - plus Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 (commercial extension for Foundation), and SharePoint Enterprise 2010 (commercial extension for Server)
- Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2013 (free) - plus Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 (extension on top of Foundation)
A next SharePoint release is announced for 2016, Jeff Teper, the Corporate Vice President of Office Service and Servers group at Microsoft, noted: "Our server releases will include some, but not all, of the experience you saw today due to the computational power and integrated aspects that only come with Office 365."
Changes in end-user functionality added in the 2010 version of SharePoint include:
- New UI with Fluent Ribbon, using wiki-pages rather than 'web-part pages' and offering multi-browser support.
- New social profiles, and early social networking features
- Central Administration rebuilt.
- Restructure of "Shared Service Providers" - Introduction of "Service Applications" SOA model.
- Business Connectivity Services, Claims-based Authentication, and Windows PowerShell support
- Cross-browser drag & drop support for file uploads/changes, and Follow/Share buttons
- OneDrive for Business (initially SkyDrive Pro) replaces MySites, OneDrive also replaces SharePoint Workspaces.
- Updates to social network feature & new task aggregation tool.
- database caching, called Distributed Cache Service
- Content-aware switching, called Management
- Audit center (service called eDiscovery)
- Rebuilt and improved search capabilities
- Removal of some analytics capabilities
- UI: JSLink, MDS, theme packs. No WYSIWYG in SP Designer.
Related Software and Competitors
|Enterprise Content Management||Personal Cloud for Business||Intranet & Corporate Social Network||Web Content Management|
|All major competition is open-source.
For more see: List of CMS
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