SharePoint Online user interface
|Initial release||March 28, 2001|
2016 / May 4, 2016
|Operating system||Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012|
|Available in||Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Latin), Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian|
|Type||Content Management Systems|
SharePoint Foundation: Freeware
Other editions: Trialware
SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office. Launched in 2001, SharePoint is primarily sold as a document management and storage system, but the product is highly configurable and usage varies substantially between organizations.
There are various editions of SharePoint which have different functions:
SharePoint Server is provided to organizations that seek greater control over SharePoint's behavior or design. This product is installed on the customer's IT infrastructure. It receives less frequent updates, but has access to a wider set of features and customization capabilities. There are three editions of SharePoint Server: Standard, Enterprise, and Foundation (free) which was discontinued in 2016. These servers may be provisioned as normal virtual/cloud servers, or as hosted services.
Microsoft SharePoint Standard builds on the Microsoft SharePoint Foundation in a few key product areas.
SharePoint Standard licensing includes a CAL (client access license) component and a server fee. SharePoint Standard may also be licensed through a cloud model.
Built upon SharePoint Standard, Microsoft SharePoint Enterprise features can be unlocked simply by providing an additional license key.
Extra features in SharePoint Enterprise include:
SharePoint Enterprise licensing includes a CAL component and a server fee that must be purchased in addition to SharePoint Server licensing. SharePoint Enterprise may also be licensed through a cloud model.
Microsoft's hosted SharePoint is typically bundled in Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions, but can be purchased outright. It is a version of SharePoint, but it is not exactly the same as SharePoint.
It is limited to a core set of collaboration, file hosting, and document and content management scenarios, and is updated on a frequent basis, but is typically comparable with SharePoint Enterprise. Currently, additional capabilities include:
Missing capabilities include:
N.B. Changes in SharePoint Online are listed on the Office Roadmap.
SharePoint usage varies from organization to organization. The product encompasses a wide variety of capabilities, most of which require configuration and governance.
The most common uses of the SharePoint include:
SharePoint allows for storage, retrieval, searching, archiving, tracking, management, and reporting on electronic documents and records. Many of the functions in this product are designed around various legal, information management, and process requirements in organizations. SharePoint also provides search and 'graph' functionality. SharePoint's integration with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office allow for collaborative real-time editing, and encrypted/information rights managed synchronization.
A SharePoint intranet or intranet portal is a way to centralize access to enterprise information and applications. It is a tool that helps an organization manage its internal communications, applications and information more easily. Microsoft claims that this has organizational benefits such as increased employee engagement, centralizing process management, reducing new staff on-boarding costs, and providing the means to capture and share tacit knowledge (e.g. via tools such as wikis).
SharePoint contains team collaboration groupware capabilities, including: Project scheduling (integrated with Outlook and Project), social collaboration, shared mailboxes, and project related document storage and collaboration. Groupware in SharePoint is based around the concept of a "Team Site".
SharePoint Server hosts OneDrive for Business, which allows storage and synchronization of an individual's personal documents, as well as public/private file sharing of those documents. This is typically combined with other Microsoft Office Servers/Services such as Microsoft Exchange, to produce a "personal cloud",
WebDAV can be used to access files without using the web interface. However, Microsoft's implementation of WebDAV doesn't conform to the official WebDAV protocol and therefore isn't compliant to the WebDAV standard. For example, WebDAV applications have to support the language tagging functionality of the XML specification which Microsoft's implementation doesn't. Only Windows XP to Windows 8 are supported.
SharePoint's custom development capabilities provide an additional layer of services that allow rapid prototyping of integrated (typically line-of-business) web applications. SharePoint provides developers with integration into corporate directories and data sources through standards such as REST/OData/OAuth. Enterprise application developers use SharePoint's security and information management capabilities across a variety of development platforms and scenarios. SharePoint also contains an enterprise "app store" that has different types of external applications which are encapsulated and managed to access to resources such as corporate user data and document data.
SharePoint provides free-form pages which may be edited in-browser. These may be used to provide content to users, or to provide structure to the SharePoint environment.
Web parts and app parts are components (also known as portlets) that can be inserted into Pages. They are used to display information from both SharePoint and third party applications.
A SharePoint library stores and displays files and folders.
A SharePoint list stores and displays data items.
Each item in a library or list is a content item. Examples of content items include "Document" - which may have a "Name", "Contact" - with contact information fields, or "Sales Invoice" - with fields such as "Total" and "Customer ID".
Content Types are definitions (or types) of items. These definitions describe things like what metadata fields a Document, Contact, or Invoice may have. SharePoint allows you to create your own definitions based on the built-in ones. Some built in content types include: Contacts, Appointments, Documents, and Folders.
In SharePoint 2013, in some locations, Lists and Libraries were renamed 'Apps' (despite being unrelated to the "SharePoint App Store"). In SharePoint 2016, some of these were renamed back to Lists and Libraries.
A SharePoint Site is a collection of pages, lists, libraries, apps, configurations, features, content types, and sub-sites. Examples of Site templates in SharePoint include: collaboration (team) sites, wiki sites, blank sites, and publishing sites.
SharePoint is primarily configured through a web browser. The web-based user interface provides most of the configuration capability of the product.
Depending on your permission level, the web interface can be used to:
SharePoint Designer is a semi-deprecated product that provided 'advanced editing' capabilities for HTML/ASPX pages, but remains the primary method of editing SharePoint workflows.
A significant subset of HTML editing features were removed in Designer 2013, and the product is expected to be deprecated in 2016-7.
Microsoft SharePoint's Server Features are configured either using PowerShell, or a Web UI called "Central Administration". Configuration of server farm settings (e.g. search crawl, web application services) can be handled through these central tools.
While Central Administration is limited to farm-wide settings (config DB), it provides access to tools such as the 'SharePoint Health Analyzer', a diagnostic health-checking tool.
In addition to PowerShell's farm configuration features, some limited tools are made available for administering or adjusting settings for sites or site collections in content databases.
A limited subset of these features are available by SharePoint's SaaS providers, including Microsoft.
Customization may appear through:
SharePoint Server can be scaled down to operate entirely from one developer machine, or scaled up to be managed across hundreds of machines.
A SharePoint farm is a logical grouping of SharePoint servers that share common resources. A farm typically operates stand-alone, but can also subscribe to functions from another farm, or provide functions to another farm. Each farm has its own central configuration database, which is managed through either a PowerShell interface, or a Central Administration website (which relies partly on PowerShell's infrastructure). Each server in the farm is able to directly interface with the central configuration database. Servers use this to configure services (e.g. IIS, windows features, database connections) to match the requirements of the farm, and to report server health issues, resource allocation issues, etc...
Web applications (WAs) are top-level containers for content in a SharePoint farm. A web application is associated primarily with IIS configuration. A web application consists of a set of access mappings or URLs defined in the SharePoint central management console, which are replicated by SharePoint across every IIS Instance (e.g. Web Application Servers) configured in the farm.
A site collection is a hierarchical group of 'SharePoint Sites'. Each web application must have at least one site collection. Site collections share common properties (detailed here), common subscriptions to service applications, and can be configured with unique host names. A site collection may have a distinct content databases, or may share a content database with other site collections in the same web application.
Service applications provide granular pieces of SharePoint functionality to other web and service applications in the farm. Examples of service applications include the User Profile Sync service, and the Search Indexing service. A service application can be turned off, exist on one server, or be load-balanced across many servers in a farm. Service Applications are designed to have independent functionality and independent security scopes.
SharePoint's architecture enables 'least-privileges' execution permission model.
SharePoint Central Administration (the CA) is a web application that typically exists on a single server in the farm, however it is also able to be deployed for redundancy to multiple servers. This application provides a complete centralized management interface for web & service applications in the SharePoint farm, including AD account management for web & service applications. In the event of the failure of the CA, Windows PowerShell is typically used on the CA server to reconfigure the farm.
The structure of the SharePoint platform enables multiple WAs to exist on a single farm. In a shared (cloud) hosting environment, owners of these WAs may require their own management console. The SharePoint 'Tenant Administration' (TA) is an optional web application used by web application owners to manage how their web application interacts with the shared resources in the farm.
|Microsoft Teams||A platform that combines workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments. It was designed by Microsoft as a competitor to Slack, and was officially announced in November 2016.||Active|
|Search Server||An enterprise search platform based on the search capabilities of SharePoint. A Freeware Express edition was once available.||Discontinued|
|FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint||Search product that can be implemented on SharePoint Foundation.||Discontinued|||
|SharePoint Designer||A free, client-side customization and configuration tool for SharePoint.||Deprecated|
|Microsoft Visio||A diagramming tool which can be used to design SharePoint Workflows. Can be added to an Office 365 subscription.||Active|
|Microsoft Office||Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet-based Office Productivity Suite. Also available for Mac. Included in some Office 365 plans.||Active|
|Office Web Apps||Web-based, online, cross-browser compatible versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. Directly Integrate with SharePoint.||Active|
|Microsoft Project Server||An extension to SharePoint providing integration with Microsoft Project.||Active|
|Microsoft Project Online||An extension to Office 365 providing integration with Microsoft Project.||Active|
|Microsoft Project||A client-based project planning tool which can be connected to a SharePoint task list for task and gantt-chart sharing. Comes with Project Online.||Active|
|Power BI||An extension for Office 365 or SharePoint providing advanced Business Intelligence capabilities.||Active|
|Microsoft Exchange Server||A mail server that integrates with Microsoft SharePoint. Included in 365.||Active|
|Skype for Business||A client and server that provide VOIP telephony integration, IM, conferencing, and video/screen-sharing. Integrates with SharePoint for presence. Included in 365.||Active|
|Yammer||A cloud-only enterprise social network that connects and closely integrates with SharePoint and is included in Office 365.||Active|
|Microsoft Dynamics CRM||A CRM system with SharePoint & Office 365 Groups integration. On-premises or 365 tenant deployment options.||Active|
|InfoPath Forms Services||Allows InfoPath forms to be hosted in a SharePoint web site and served via web browser.||Deprecated|
|Excel Services||A server technology included in SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2007 that enables users to load, calculate, and display Excel 2010 workbooks on SharePoint Server 2010.||Active|
|SharePoint Workspace||A client-side SharePoint site synchronization component included in Microsoft Office 2010 (Professional Plus edition and higher).||Discontinued|
|OneDrive for Business||A client-side file synchronization component included in Microsoft Office 2013-16 and available for free download.||Active|
|OneDrive for Mac||A client-side file synchronization component available for free download.||Active|
SharePoint evolved from projects codenamed "Office Server" and "Tahoe" during the Office XP development cycle.
"Office Server" evolved out of the FrontPage and Office Server Extensions and "Team Pages". It targeted simple, bottom-up collaboration.
"Tahoe", built on shared technology with Exchange and the "Digital Dashboard", targeted top-down portals, search and document management. The searching and indexing capabilities of SharePoint came from the "Tahoe" feature set. The search and indexing features were a combination of the index and crawling features from the Microsoft Site Server family of products and from the query language of Microsoft Index Server.
GAC-(Global Assembly Cache) is used to accommodate the shared assemblies that are specifically designated to be shared by applications executed on a system.
Successive versions (in chronological order):
Changes in end-user functionality added in the 2010 version of SharePoint include:
|Enterprise Content Management||Personal Cloud for Business||Intranet & Corporate Social Network||Web Content Management|
For more, see: List of CMS
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