Book Reviews: Microsoft SharePoint

I’m currently collaborating with some other authors to write a book on an upcoming Microsoft product, and we’re using SharePoint to facilitate how we work together on the project. If your organization is running Microsoft Office on your desktops but you haven’t tried SharePoint Services, your business is missing out on the power SharePoint can provide to your knowledge workers. Here are four books that can help you get started with SharePoint and then move beyond the basics.

Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services Step By Step

Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services Step By Step (Microsoft Press) is a great way to get started with SharePoint Services. The book includes a CD-ROM that contains practice files you can use to practice the SharePoint skills presented, which include navigating a SharePoint site, creating and managing sites, working with lists, creating and managing libraries, working with documents and meeting workspaces, creating surveys and discussion boards, and more. Plus there are chapters explaining how to use SharePoint Services with Outlook 2003, Excel 2003 and Access 2003, and an introduction to web parts. The material is presented in easy-to-follow procedures with lots of screenshots plus, like all of Microsoft Press’s Step By Step books, there’s a Quick Reference section near the start of the book that gives you a quick way of looking up how to perform common tasks. If you are new to SharePoint and only one to get one book, this is probably the best one to buy.

SharePoint User’s Guide

SharePoint User’s Guide (O’Reilly) is just what you’d expect from O’Reilly—short and condensed and packed with useful information. If you can already set up SharePoint sites and find your way around them, this book will take you a bit further. Topics covered include personalizing sites, advanced web parts, linking to external content, managing users and groups, shared workspaces, form libraries, finding out who’s online, and of course the basics of setting SharePoint up. Don’t buy this as your first SharePoint book though as it’s not meant to be a step-by-step tutorial but a sort of quick refresher and answer to common questions resource.

Essential SharePoint

Essential SharePoint (O’Reilly) is much “meatier” than the previous title and this makes it appeal to advanced users who want to extend SharePoint in various ways. That means programming, and that means familiarity with Visual Studio .NET, XML, Windows scripting, VBA and more. Topics covered include applying templates and themes, sharing contacts and meetings, sharing workspaces and lists with Excel, using document libraries with Word, using lists and form libraries to gather data, creating and deploying web parts, programming web parts, and more. The book assumes an intermediate level understanding of things like .NET, SQL Server, Infopath, and other Microsoft technologies. As usual with most O’Reilly titles, the focus is mainly on customization i.e. seeing what you can really make the product do if you push it.

Microsoft Sharepoint: Building Office 2003 Solutions and Advanced SharePoint Services Solutions


Microsoft Sharepoint: Building Office 2003 Solutions (Apress) and Advanced SharePoint Services Solutions (Apress) are both by SharePoint guru Scot Hillier and are both worth taking a look at. The first title provides an excellent overview of how businesses can leverage the power of SharePoint and covers both SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server. It’s more intended as a tutorial than a reference, but you can learn a lot by reading it through from cover to cover. Intermediate programming knowledge is necessary if you want to make it past the mid-point of this book. Scot’s second title is even heavier on the programming and may be the best advanced SharePoint programming book around. Topics covered include CAML, IBF, BFA, BizTalk—acronyms that hide some of the incredible power Microsoft collaboration products can provide to businesses. Advanced programming knowledge is probably needed to get the most out of reading this book.

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