At the end of our Executive Roundtable that I did with Connie Moore from Forrester, I shared with the attendees my top five new BPM features in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. I thought some of my reader may find this list useful. So here we go…
Number 5: Leverages ASP.Net 2.0 – Developers can leverage ASP.Net 2.0 features in SharePoint based applications. ASP.net 2.0 brings a number of enhancements including Master Pages that allows for visual inheritance, Web Parts that enable end-user customizable controls, Provider Model that allows for integrating custom data stores (as opposed to using AD), New data controls (GridView, FormView, DetailsView), New localization technique, and Personalization services.
Number 4: Web based InfoPath capability with InfoPath Forms Server. Office Forms Server 2007 enables InfoPath2007 form templates designed in InfoPath to be published as ASP.NET Web applications that provide a similar experience to using the InfoPath 2007 client. Now forms based business applications can be shared with customers, partners, or suppliers using only a web browser. Another big benefit is that application user interface (UI) forms can quickly be designed using InfoPath 2007 and then rendered and embedded within the SharePoint application.
Number 3: Integrated workflow built on Windows Workflow Foundation. MOSS 2007 includes user-configurable workflow templates that can guide review and approval processes. Developers and IT administrators can also use Microsoft Visual Studio or SharePoint Designer 2007 to define custom workflows. MOSS 2007 supplies the following workflows:
- Collect Feedback
- Collect Signatures
- Disposition Approval
- Issue Tracking
- Translation Management (for publishing with multiple languages)
Office 2007 has also made integrating workflow directly into the Office desktop clients easy for software developers and partners. Now the assigned task, actions, and any data needed to complete a work step can be displayed directly in the Office UI either as a custom ribbon tab or above the document as a task pane.
Number 2: Built-in business intelligence capabilities with Excel Services. Excel Services can be used to display business data as a Web Part where all viewers can see it in a centralized location where the original, posted Excel document is protected from unauthorized changes. Users can still download copies of the spreadsheet to experiment but they can’t modify the original, official version of the document, which is protected as the company’s official business record. This supports the notion of “one of the truth” for a company’s financial data. With Excel Services, the spreadsheet still has the look and feel of the familiar client. Key performance indicators (KPIs), out-of-the-box (OOB) features, and custom calculations are the same as with the Office Excel desktop experience completely through a web browser.
Number 1: The Business Data Catalogue (BDC) supports a declarative approach to surfacing external business data. The Business Data Catalog is a new business integration feature in MOSS 2007. It is a shared service and it enables SharePoint to surface business data from back-end server applications without any coding. The BDC bridges the gap between the portal site and business applications. Key data from various business applications can be brought into SharePoint lists, Web Parts, search, user profiles, and custom applications.
The Business Data Catalog provides built-in support for displaying data from databases and Web services. You can use Business Data Catalog to display data from SAP, Siebel, or other line-of-business (LOB) application via Web services or databases. The Business Data Catalog provides access to the underlying data sources with a declarative metadata model that provides a consistent and simplified client object model. As a bonus, the data brought in by the BDC can included in the SharePoint search index. Now users can search for both unstructured data (documents) and structured data (databases and applications) using a single search and get consolidated results.