The great Office Server smorgasbord, part 1: Office SharePoint Server 2007
Microsoft's five new Office Servers give Office 2007 users a wealth of new features and capabilities. We examine how in this four-part series, starting with SharePoint 2007Follow @infoworld
End-users get a top-level site, too, called MySite. It is automatically generated when a user accesses the default portal site, is authenticated, and then hits the MySite button. MySite has a number of tools, but its purpose is to summarize all the MOSS team sites to which the user belongs, including new information alerts and task roll-ups. Users can also access MySite either via the SharePoint server or as part of their Outlook Today views.
Making sites useful
Here's where the MOSS glitz and glamour shows up. The most basic piece of site functionality is the Document Library. You can build one for a particular site by hitting Site Actions > Create > Document Library. Now you've got a library tab and importing tools as well as extra permissioning and even versioning if you're up for it. Bur these doc libraries are good for more than just controlled data dumps.
For one, you can open specific documents to Outlook. That means that your team can collaborate on a specific document using SharePoint and then hit Connect to Outlook. That lets you assign which users (whether part of this team or not) will be able to see this document inside their Outlook interfaces under the Downloaded Documents tab.
Other applications have similar features. One that Microsoft made sure to show us was PowerPoint 2007. They imported a few PowerPoint presentations into our SharePoint server -- easy to do, just hit Publish Slides within PowerPoint and designate the right location. As long as you've got permission (and the permissions are within SharePoint, not shared with Active Directory), you're good. The neat part comes after. Once you've got a few presentations in there, SharePoint treats the whole thing as a collection of slides rather than a collection of presentations. Now users of the SharePoint site can access each slide individually and then create a new presentation out of the collection. For sales guys looking to quickly customize a presentation for a particular customer, for instance, this is one of those why-didn't-anyone-do-it-before strokes of genius.
Another really sexy MOSS 2007 addition is the new Excel Services. The Microsoft guys even gave up a day at the beach to run us through this. First, we created a few spreadsheets in Excel, which were then published to our SharePoint site similar to the way we did it in PowerPoint 2007. That's easy enough, but again the sweet part happens after. Once SharePoint has its hooks in your worksheet, team members can add to or modify this content as long as they've got permissions. Different spreadsheets can share cells and auto-update content based on versioning. Big calculations can be conducted on the server or even offloaded to a Microsoft Compute Cluster (though we didn't get a chance to test this since Brian ran out of server boxes).