May 18, 2009
Book Review: Building Web Applications with Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Designer 2007 Step by Step
I really enjoy the Microsoft Press Step by Step series. The series is a great way for an IT Professional to get a simple beginner’s introduction to a Microsoft technology without being called a dummy. The Step by Step series can be very helpful for learning how to do something that may be new to or outside your regular work responsibilities. And during this difficult economic time, adding to your current skill set is a very good thing.
I also think that this is a great title to review since Microsoft announced earlier this year that SharePoint Designer would be available for free.
The book contains twelve chapters and 336 pages and is intended to be a starting point for learning how to build a solution on SharePoint. The solutions presented in the book could be deployed on a Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) or on a basic Windows SharePoint Server (WSS) installation. As a prerequisite, the author recommends that you have read Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Designer 2007 Step by Step by Penelope Coventry (Microsoft Press 2008) so that you have a basic knowledge of how SharePoint Designer works. However, if you are familiar with the Microsoft Office interface, you may be able to work the exercises in the book. The book includes a companion CD with practice files, an ebook of the title, an ebook of the Microsoft Computer Dictionary 5th edition, and the Windows Vista Product Guide.
One of the first features I noticed this time was the Chapter at a Glance feature which gives a visual overview of the chapter’s content. I liked how the pictures were screenshots of the actual software being used to illustrate the topic being covered. Page numbers are right next to the picture so that if a certain picture got your attention, you could turn to that page to get more details. This is really a terrific feature.
Chapters included looks at Master Pages and data views. I was especially interested in the chapters on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) which control the format of the web pages, and the chapter on workflow. One of the powerful features of SharePoint is the Workflow Foundation which allows you to automate document routing. Again, the step by step book format simplifies the steps that you need to take to create a sample workflow and learn the basics of this powerful feature of SharePoint.
As a side note, in his introduction, Jansen gives us a look into Microsoft’s web tools product development. Microsoft has three web development applications and it can sometimes be confusing choosing which one to use. If you have ever used FrontPage, you will notice that SharePoint Designer looks a lot like FrontPage. That is because FrontPage became SharePoint Designer. The same development team also created Microsoft Expression Web and Web Express in Microsoft Visual Studio. Jansen explains that the main difference between SharePoint Designer and Expression is that SharePoint Designer can work with content specific to SharePoint and Expression cannot. To illustrate the different audience that each product is aimed at, Jansen provides this scenario. A developer creates a layout with with server controls on it. He hands the layout to an Expression web designer who creates the look of the page. The Expression web designer hands the page to the SharePoint Designer application builder to post to SharePoint.
This book is ideal for anyone that is interested in enhancing SharePoint web sites. Not only is the book good for developers who are just starting out enhancing SharePoint sites, but it is also good for the IT Professional Generalist who wants to understand more about how SharePoint sites are built and how to make simple enhancements.
- Working with Web Applications
- Working with SharePoint Sites in SharePoint Designer
- Accessing the Styles Behind SharePoint Pages
- Creating Layout with Cascading Style Sheets
- Working with Master Pages
- Creating Custom Navigation Controls
- Creating Data Sources in SharePoint
- Creating Data Views
- Using ASP.NET and SharePoint Controls in Data Views
- Using Parameters in a Data View
- Customizing List Forms and Pages
- Using the Windows Workflow Foundation
At a glance:
Title: Building Web Applications with Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Designer 2007 Step by Step