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Enabling Enterprise Web 2.0

January 24, 2009
 

What is Enterprise 2.0?

Enterprise web 2.0 (Enterprise 2.0 or E2.0 for short) is  the web 2.0 social software and tools for business. It’s about using the web as a platform to do more with less: increasing agility and productivity while lowering costs.

 
A couple of useful whitepapers from Microsoft on how Microsoft is enabling Enterprise Web 2.0 (Enterprise 2.0 or E2.0 for short)

Bringing Web 2.0 to the Enterprise with the 2007 Office System
http://milessteve.web.officelive.com/Documents/Bringing_Web_2.0_to_the_Enterprise_with_the_2007_Office_System.doc

"The new technologies, application design patterns, and business models commonly referred to as Web 2.0 have effected enormous changes in how people publish and consume information on the Internet. Users can now publish their own content through blogs and wikis, combine data and content from different sources to create their own user experiences, and form online communities to share knowledge and work collaboratively. Businesses are now looking to many of these same concepts to tackle their own complex challenges.

This white paper explores how the Microsoft 2007 Office system allows enterprises to adopt Web 2.0 ideas and technologies to create high-value, user-driven applications for the Internet and intranet. It describes the platform technology investments in the 2007 Office system that allow IT professionals and developers to create flexible, role-based business applications. The paper closes with a brief look into future trends that Web 2.0 and the 2007 Office system make possible." 

Windows SharePoint Server 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as Social Computing Platforms 
http://milessteve.web.officelive.com/Documents/Get_the_Most_Value_from_Social_Computing_for_Business.doc
This paper provides information on the technologies that enable social computing for business and uses customer examples to reference how these capabilities are applied using SharePoint Products and Technologies. This information is relevant to business and technical decision makers who are considering or planning to implement social computing products in their organization. The paper will answer questions about the business value of social computing, the benefits of the SharePoint Products and Technologies platforms, why customers are deploying social computing, and how they are using it to address their business problems.

Some of the topics covered –
 
  • The Evolution to web 2.0

  • The Elements to web 2.0

  • The Office 2007 System and Web 2.0

  • Why Enterprises Adopt Social Computing

  • Future Directions

  • Value of Social Computing to Enterprises

  • Benefits of Social Computing to IT

  • Usage Scenarios of Enterprise 2.0 Technologies

  • How Social Computing with SharePoint Solves Business Problems

  • Windows SharePoint Server 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as Social Computing Platforms

  • Real World Applications of Social Computing

 
Also ….
 
 
 
Extracts

SharePoint Products and Technologies

SharePoint Products and Technologies comprises Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server  2007. Windows SharePoint Services is a technology (a component of Windows Server 2003) that enables users to access data and collaborate by using a browser or a smart client. It provides a manageable infrastructure and extensible application platform for improving the efficiency of business processes. Office SharePoint Server, built on top of Windows SharePoint Services, helps organizations gain better control and insight over their content, streamline their business processes, and access and share information. In addition, Office SharePoint Server gives IT professionals the tools they need for server administration and application extensibility and interoperability.

 

 

SharePoint Products and Technologies is built on top of ASP.NET 2.0 and provides a rich set of solutions out of the box and a great set of services that developers can take advantage of when building solutions. Its services architecture provides data storage, application hosting, and a very rich Web application framework that supports:

  • A rich browser experience by using Ajax development techniques
  • Data and application interoperability with smart client technology, such as Office, and other applications through XML Web Services
  • Application and data services in the form of sites and Web Parts that can be provisioned on demand
  • Syndication of any data stored in Windows SharePoint Services through RSS feeds
  • A framework for hosting and creating composite Web applications

Web site Framework

The SharePoint Web site framework allows applications to be provisioned on demand without involving IT. Solutions built on SharePoint Products and Technologies that use SharePoint lists to store data inherit the core technology components such as RSS (every SharePoint list can be RSS enabled), an Ajax user interface for collaboration and site administration, application services such as workflow and search, and a set of XML Web Services that expose the content in the SharePoint site.

SharePoint Products and Technologies allows users to quickly provision SharePoint sites and content on demand and allows users to choose the services that they want. As SharePoint Products and Technologies is built on ASP.NET 2.0, it supports the Web Part framework. SharePoint Products and Technologies uses ASP.NET 2.0 technology to deliver its browser UI, and that very much includes the Web Part control set. Web Parts are ASP.NET 2.0 components that users can add/remove/modify at run time, allowing them to see what they want, the way they want it, on their Web pages. Web Parts usually provide the user interface for information services, sets of data, and Web services, and they can be combined, configured, and connected on pages to create composite applications. In SharePoint Products and Technologies, they can be staged in common galleries and reused over and over again across a large number of different sites.

Developers can develop their own custom Web Parts and use next-generation Web development techniques (such as Ajax), and they can take advantage of the SharePoint UI framework and the ability to let users pick and choose the applications they want.

The SharePoint Products and Technologies framework also provides data and application services that can be provisioned on demand by users. A SharePoint list is where data is stored in a SharePoint Products and Technologies application. A list can store different types of information, and Windows SharePoint Services comes with many kinds of specialized lists such as Tasks, Document Libraries, and Contacts. Content in lists can be accessed and acted on using:

  • A browser
  • A smart client application, such as Office, through XML Web Services
  • An RSS aggregator (every SharePoint list can be RSS enabled)
  • A mobile device
  • A composite Web application

SharePoint Products and Technologies applications are surfaced through Web Parts. Web Parts, as described earlier, are mini-Web applications that can be configured by end users. SharePoint Products and Technologies ships with several Web Parts out of the box and provides a framework on which custom Web Parts can be developed.

A SharePoint site can be compared to a composite application container consisting of data and an application. A SharePoint site can contain any number of SharePoint lists and Web Parts and is based on reusable site templates. Users create their own composite applications that can help them collaborate, provide business insight, and improve business processes. Web Parts can connect to other Web Parts (Connected Web Parts), providing a great platform for composite Web applications.

Services

Several important services are available in SharePoint Products and Technologies that end users can easily use. Furthermore, these services can be leveraged by custom applications built on the 2007 Office system. Office Business Application services include workflow, the Business Data Catalog, and search.

Workflow

SharePoint Products and Technologies hosts Windows Workflow Foundation and allows users to design workflows by using Office SharePoint Designer. These workflows can be applied to a SharePoint list and rules can be set. Users can provision lists, sites, workflows, or Web Parts on an as-needed basis. Workflow actions are also exposed through XML Web Services. Office SharePoint Server ships with several workflow templates that can be used to set up a number of different kinds of serial and parallel workflows. These workflow templates help drive structured processes and help get information from the community.

Business Data Catalog

The Business Data Catalog (BDC) makes it possible to include data from back-end systems in SharePoint lists, Web parts, pages, and search results. This allows for even greater composite application/mashup scenarios. Information from systems such as Siebel and SAP can be incorporated into a SharePoint site with ease. The BDC is extensible and allows enterprises to connect to any database and line-of-business application by using XML Web Services.

Search

Search in SharePoint Products and Technologies  indexes structured and unstructured content throughout the enterprise. Search provides a consistent and familiar search experience, great relevance of search results, functions to search for people and expertise, and the ability to index and search data in line-of-business applications. Search functionality is available through a browser interface as well as an XML Web Service that can be used when developing custom applications.

 

Developing the 2007 Office System Applications

Building Solutions on SharePoint Products and Technologies

Two of the features that most differentiate Web 2.0 server platforms are their ability to adapt to a wide set of user requirements and their ability to provide services to other applications, allowing for combined, composite applications often known as mash-ups.

SharePoint Products and Technologies most certainly qualifies on this front. It is designed to serve up sites that are based on application templates that make use of a wide variety of services from Microsoft and other organizations. Moreover, SharePoint sites, their contents, and the server environments that host them are designed to provide services to other applications by using SOAP and other HTML-based protocols.

Multiple points exist into which developers can plug their own code into the SharePoint Products and Technologies platform. The information store is designed to be extended with event receivers and workflows. Furthermore, the store is designed to be extended with new field types, metadata declarations, and entirely new content types (collections of metadata and registered events/workflows). The ASP.NET user interface can be extended by using standard DHTML techniques, master pages, Web Parts, and other .NET components.

New groups of components that, taken together, offer new solutions can be packaged as features and activated or deactivated within sites as needed. Specific types of sites, with specific sets of features pre-activated, can be defined and chosen as templates when sites are provisioned. Places exist within both the user and administrative interfaces to add new components and communicate with additional services. This provides a strong self-service framework, empowering users to provision, maintain, and customize their own business applications.

Many of the SharePoint Products and Technologies services are meant to allow users to extend their Web sites with declarative methods. Uploaded spreadsheets become rich Web applications and Web services. Rich, interactive forms with built-in data validation, business logic, and connectivity to the LOB infrastructure solve complex information gathering challenges within business processes. Business data can be immediately repurposed and used in Web Parts and lists, for example, by virtue of being registered in its Business Data Catalog. All of these examples, and others, show what can be done with a declarative development approach, something within the range of users that need to be in control of the Web applications and resources they require to do their jobs.

Custom-defined XML Schema

With the 2007 Office system, organizations can incorporate data from external applications and systems by using their own XML vocabularies. Developers and architects can define and maintain a common data structure between their LOB system, the SharePoint Products and Technologies environment, and Office client programs. This is possible because the Open XML formats of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint support extension through the use of custom-defined XML schemas.

The use of custom-defined schema definitions within Office applications represents a quantum leap forward for interoperability within common desktop applications. Organizations are no longer bound by working within the data structure defined by a software vendor; they are free to choose the language used to define business objects within their organization. This represents a powerful shortcut in solution development; expensive and time-consuming data translations are no longer required.

Information gathering by using InfoPath Client and Server Technologies

The flexible InfoPath environment can be used to connect information from many data sources and present the information in a rich, interactive form with multiple views, user roles, declarative data validation, conditional formatting, optional and repeating sections, and more.

The InfoPath design environment provides an ideal solution for composite applications whose purpose is gathering information. When combined with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and InfoPath Forms Services of Office SharePoint Server 2007, developers have a comprehensive platform to build and deploy composite applications for gathering information through rich clients, Web browser interfaces, and mobile devices. The extensive XML support in InfoPath enables these composite applications to collect and submit information by using standardized languages.

Extensible UI

Beyond the functionality within the client programs for enabling connectivity, the 2007 Office suites offer many possibilities for extension to support the level of customization required in this type of dynamic environment. The extensibility support within the client programs is designed to enable organizations to take advantage of the familiar environment of Word, Excel, and other commonly used programs, providing them access to systems and resources. This, in turn, promotes greater user participation in the enterprise.

Document Information Panel

Combining Office InfoPath with Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 offers organizations a new method for collecting structured data for documents. A new Document Information Panel enables organizations to embed the connectivity, data validation, and other capabilities of the InfoPath environment into Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. The Document Information Panel can be used to collect or present document metadata for Windows SharePoint Services libraries, or it can be used to collect and present information from other LOB systems by using the built-in connectivity of InfoPath forms. The Document Information Panel provides organizations with powerful extensions to documents, presentations, and spreadsheets because it provides a simple mechanism to incorporate external information into content. For end users participating in business processes, this means that information such as required metadata, required business process information, or even structured information within the document can be presented within the context of the familiar Office program, rather than forcing users to interact with metadata or business processes outside the context of the programs they already understand.

Document Action Pane

Office client programs also support an extensible document action pane to provide a contextually-relevant user interface inside Office client applications. Because the Document Action Pane has access to the core application object model and other application interfaces, interactivity between the content of the application document and the Document action pane provides a rich, interactive experience for program users in a context they already understand. For developers, instead of authoring entire applications and systems from the ground up, by using the Document Action pane provides a great shortcut for organizations that seek to incorporate external information into the Office client programs.

 
 
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