Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – Building Solutions

 sp2010 The full title of this book by Sahil Malik is Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – Building Solutions for SharePoint 2010, and it was recently published by Apress.  I love Apress books, and have 6 others on various .NET related topics on my shelf.  SharePoint 2010 is something I needed to get up to speed on really quickly for a new project at work, as in I had less than a week to make sure I knew what I was talking about.

The book is 367 pages, and covers a wide variety of topics in SharePoint 2010.  It demos a few techniques and tools, and identifies some of the differences between SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010, so even if you know SharePoint 2007, it will really help you to identify what is different about 2010. 

I’ve barely worked in SharePoint in the past.  I tried a little bit of SharePoint 2003, and dabbled in 2007, but frankly, after seeing how painful it was to work in either of those environments, I wanted nothing to do with it.  SharePoint was where good developers went to watch their career die.  Once you knew it, you were guaranteed to get every crappy job out there, and because you were so valuable to the execs and their TPS reports, there was no way you were ever going to get out without quitting your job.  And then, of course, you were so pigeonholed as a SharePoint developer, you could never get out from under it.  Even if I knew SharePoint 2007, I would never put it on my resume.  Career suicide.

SharePoint 2010 seems to be a little different.  With the advent of Windows Identity Foundation and the advanced made in PowerPivot Services, there are definitely things that can be done in 2010 that would take forever in a typical ASP.NET application.  And Linq to SharePoint is a godsend.

Malik covers all these topics with a few quick examples so that at least you know what is there, and how to use it.  Each topic is probably worthy of a book of its own.  I don’t have that kind of spare time, so I needed something at this level so I at least can speak the language and help to architect where these features can be used.  Some features I will deep dive into in the future.  Some features I will leave for others on my team to get familiar with.  You can’t know them all.

I do have a very big gripe with this book.  It does not appear as if it was ever professionally edited by a real copy editor.  There are grammar and spelling mistakes on just about every page.  As a fellow author, I know how hard it is to produce clean copy by yourself.  A second or third set of eyes is always necessary.  So I don’t blame the author for this, I blame the publishing company, Apress.  I really hope this is not a sign of things to come.  I know things are changing in the publishing world, and time to market on these books is critical and compressed.  But in the two or three dozen technical books I’ve read in the last few years, and the dozens of fiction books I’ve read, I can only remember a few typos.  This book had hundreds, and it drove me batty.  I had to reread entire sentences to try to make sense out of them because words were transposed, missing or extras added in and never removed.

Also, the print on this book, and the line spacing is small.  It really felt like they were trying to save paper by eliminating paragraph breaks.  If the book was a fast action thriller, that may not be a problem, but in a technical book, I expect proper formatting.  It helps to convey information and give your brain a break; an indication that the topic or idea is changing.  Without a break, it gets really hard to read. A lot of the graphics are blurry or too dark to read, though that could have been my eyes as I was reading late in the evening.  At one point, it was so bad, I wanted to hurl the book across the room.

I’m going to recommend this book, but I really hope they do another edit on it.  Architects should read it.  SharePoint 2007 devs should read it to get up to speed on the changes.  New devs for SharePoint 2010?  Not sure.  It does give a good introduction to SharePoint Development, but you’ll probably end up buying another book as well to get into the nitty-gritty.

SharePoint 2010 seems to have come a very long way from it predecessors, but it still feels like it is behind the times, and a little kludgy.  I’m worried that there are difficulties hidden in the practicalities of working with it that are glossed over by this book – things that you could spend a week trying to figure out, only to be frustrated by some weird case where you have to use I before E except after C when the word is in French and followed by an apostrophe.  SharePoint 2010 is to SharePoint 2007 as .NET 2.0 was to .NET 1.1.  The next version should be like .NET 3.5, infinitely better and more stable.  2010 is usable, but just not quite there yet.

But it no longer seems like career suicide to know it.  You’ll probably just need to make sure it is not the first item you list on your resume.


Joe said...

Hi... career suicide while working with sharepoint 2007? I think you are a bit crazy, or you really dont know anything about MOSS 2007.
How can you say that when you write "barely worked with sharepoint" ???
I also can say that Hibernate is a career suicide framework if I dont know anyhing about hibernate....

Of course 2010 is a lot better for the developer, thats because VS2010 ships with a good sharepoint project templates. LINQ was also a good help.

I really hope you learn sharepoint before you say that you hate it.

JB said...

My point is about how SharePoint developers are treated. Sure, there are lots of SharePoint jobs out there, but if you reveal to an employer that you know SharePoint, that is all they will ever let you work on. I've seen it happen. I've seen what happens to those employees, how miserable they become. They are the walking dead of application development. Everyone else gets to move forward with their career and learn new things. But not the SharePoint devs. Those consultants who say they know MOSS 2007 get stuck doing it until they quit that job because SharePoint is an easy way for Consulting Sales People to make money. It's something I fear, and it's why I shy away from getting involved in any Sharepoint projects.