🔗 Hardcore Software 065. SharePoint: Office Builds Our Own Server (link pay-walled)

Yes, believe it or not, I’m reading about how SharePoint was built. I never had a lot of experience with SharePoint myself: although I did work at places which used it, I tried to stay away from Office documents as much as I could, sticking to things like wikis. And yes, I can understand why others may find it pretty crummy (the post gives a few examples of how crummy). But I did find some ideas SharePoint had quite interesting, such as the “everything is a list” concept. I do appreciate this consistent through-line in the product design, much like Unix’s “everything is a file” philosophy. I also like the fact that this extends to user-defined lists, like a very simple database.

Anyway, this paragraph caught my eye:

The idea of Office extended by a website for each Office user and team was incredibly important simply because it made using Office better. It was also a vision we had from the time we acquired FrontPage—everyone should have their own place on the web where it is easy to keep their work and share it with others. We were clearly too early. As we will see it was not just that the world was not ready, the world was anti-ready. SPS fit with the products of the era that remained top-down, complex, and under the full control of IT.

I yearn for the day when organisations make it easy for any employee to whip up an internal webpage for their team. Documents and wikis are nice, but they’re just so limiting in how they show information. The freedom to use real web technologies to present something as best you think you can, while also keeping the data “in house” (password protected, stored on servers the company controls, etc) is just an area on office tech that’s missing.

Case in point: I would love to be able to build a website showing the the status of backlog items that I can share with my team. I don’t want to manage the raw data myself: that’s all being tracked in Jira anyway. But Jira sucks, and it’s really difficult to show an overview of work, especially when they span multiple epics. Having something like a simple dashboard which will pull Jira ticket status and display them as maybe progress bars would be great.

But where am I to host this? Probably not best to do so on the open web.

See also the idea of small databases.