So if I had to sum up the conference into my top 3 moments, they would definitely be:
1. Meeting Marc Anderson and learning more about SPServices from its creator.
2. Hearing about and seeing SharePoint 2013.
3. Exploring some pretty awesome 3rd party products.
Being a power user who does a lot with SharePoint, one of the most helpful/rewarding sessions actually didn’t really apply just to SharePoint, but to development in general. The session was by Marc Anderson and was called “Creating a Great User Experience in SharePoint”. (Note: I’ll link that and a few other worthy presentations at the end of the post). The important (and seemingly common sense) things I took away were:
1. Form vs. Function… in Reality a good solution will have a balance of both (i.e. look good AND fulfill the customer’s request).
2. Be the User: Think of features for solutions your users would find helpful even though they didn’t ask for it. Secondly, Marc said if we are promoting SharePoint… we NEED to live it and USE it. What frustrates and confuses us will surely confuse our users. A memorable quote I put on twitter during another session by Marc was: “When SharePoint looks bad, I feel like I look bad. So I want to make it better.” We don’t want to JUST fulfill a business need, we want to give them something that does what they want and makes them WANT to use it.
3. Collaborative Development: Sit with the users. Learn the process you are trying to simplify first hand. Don’t just let them tell you, make them show you.
4. Use a “Mom test”. Find the most technologically challenged person and test things on them. If something seems too difficult for them… it probably is! We need to develop for usability and EASABILITY.
Thoughts on SharePoint 2013
I had a few sessions to hear about 2013 including the Microsoft Keynote. While I have no idea on when we plan to update at my work, I do have to say some of the opinions I heard from the experts were mixed at best. Design-wise and from the UI perspective it looks like Microsoft has done a great job concentrating on the user experience. One notable feature was the ability to drag a document library and SharePoint uploaded it. Simple. Easy.
The mixed opinions I received concerned things that don’t really bother me, but will bother some people. For example, in SharePoint Designer 2013, Design view is no more. If you have been making edits with SharePoint Designer using the Designer view… start brushing up on your XSLT because it’s going to get pretty ugly. I sat in a session all about XSLT and using the Design view for 2010. It pretty much scared me away from editing pages in Design view any longer… and it will likely scare away some of our more basic emPOWERed users from doing some edits in SharePoint Designer in the future. SharePoint Designer will be almost relegated to a workflow builder for many.
Third Party Products
I don’t have too much to say, but I think I have found something that I plan on sharing with my boss. I was quite amazed to see and experience some really awesome products like K2 Workflows (that are apparently implemented here somewhere at my work), Axceler Control Point (just showed up a week or two ago here at work and it looks like it has AWESOME functionality for Site Collection Admins), and the one I really want to show my boss and see about getting a project off the ground is Esri Mapping Software. Planning on demoing it to the team in a week or two once my traveling slows down (Will be in Cincinnati to teach SharePoint March 20-21).
Since I work in Sales part of the org there is some REALLY awesome features that I think we’ll be able to use and it integrates into SharePoint AND CRM which we’re in the process of implementing. Might be something to consider to take my stellar sales organization to the next level.
Summary and Resources
Overall, I learned a lot of great things. Saw some great examples. Met some great people! Big thanks to my boss for letting me attend and especially the presenters and organizers who made it happen. If you’re looking to take your SharePoint knowledge, I can only recommend it. The next one will be in Boston. Keep your eyes peeled at http://www.sptechcon.com for more info on future conferences.
Below is a list of some notable presentations I saw, but to see the complete list go to: http://www.slideshare.net/SPTechConSanFrancisco/presentations.
Creating a Great User Experience in SharePoint: http://www.slideshare.net/SPTechConSanFrancisco/creating-a-great-user-experience-in-sharepoint-by-marc-anderson-sptechcon
Building Custom Navigation with SharePoint Lists, jQuery, and jQueryUI: http://www.slideshare.net/SPTechConSanFrancisco/building-custom-navigation-with-sharepoint-lists-jquery-and-jqueryui-vby
SharePoint Solutions with SPServices: http://www.slideshare.net/SPTechConSanFrancisco/sharepoint-solutions-with-spservices-by-marc-anderson-spte
What IS SharePoint Development: http://www.slideshare.net/SPTechConSanFrancisco/what-is-sharepoint-development-by-mark-rackley-sptechcon
The SharePoint and jQuery Guide: http://www.slideshare.net/SPTechConSanFrancisco/the-sharepoint-and-jquery-guide-by-mark-rackley-sptechcon
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Content Types: http://www.slideshare.net/SPTechConSanFrancisco/reduce-reuse-and-recycle-with-content-types-by-patrick-tucker-sptechcon