Author: Mark Miller et al.
Aimed at: SharePoint power users and developers
Pros: Interesting ways to make better use of SharePoint
Cons: Most of the material can be read for free on the NothingButSharePoint website
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
Subtitled "Tricks, Traps, and Bold Opinions", is this a useful addition to the bookshelf?
This book is actually a compilation of articles based on material developed on EndUserSharePoint (now renamed NothingButSharePoint), a community website where users share their techniques for getting the best out of SharePoint. There are eleven chapters, each covering a different aspect of making clever use of SharePoint, and as they are written by eleven different authors, the readability and usefulness varies. However, overall there's enough interesting stuff in this book to make it a worthwhile read.
Some of the chapters look at very specific features of SharePoint, others are more general. The opening chapter, the SharePoint Maturity Model, is actually a description of a framework developed by Sadalit Van Buren (who wrote the chapter) and available on the community website. The chapter talks about what the framework offers and how to use it. Essentially, the framework gives companies a way of describing a SharePoint implementation and showing progress over time.
Next is a chapter on empowering the power user; another chapter that discusses whether power users should be given access to the SharePoint Designer, and if they are, how the IT department can exercise some control over what they get up to.
The book then moves on to more specific material, starting with a chapter on JQuery and how to use it to manipulate the DOM of SharePoint web pages. Jim Bob Howard, who wrote this chapter, shows examples of how to use JQuery to automate all-day events; request a review; fill in default text based on a radio button click; and create grouped sections in SharePoint forms. Along the way, you get a reasonable idea of how to use JQuery with example code.
The author of the next chapter, Mark Anderson, admits that his chapter 'Unlocking the Mysteries of the SharePoint Data View Web Part XSL Tags' could be seen as nothing more than an outline for a series of more detailed articles on the website, but in fact the chapter is a good introduction by Anderson to the topic, and should give you enough information to get you started.
The chapter on the use of Hyperlinks in the Data View Web Part looks at how to manage the situations where the standard List and Library views of SharePoint run out of steam and you need to create web parts. The author, Laura Rogers, looks at the difference between the Data View and XSLT List View web parts, and how you customize hyperlinks in each case. Essentially, the chapter goes through the steps for customizing the two types of web parts in the SharePoint Designer for Lists and Libraries. It is therefore 'click this, now type this', but does at least show what to do.
If you want to impress your users with dynamic charts based on Google's Visualization API, the chapter on SPJS Charts for SharePoint should do the trick. Essentially, the chapter covers setting up SharePoint to interact with Google's Edit Chart GUI. It then goes on to discuss the various settings available in the Edit Chart GUI, but doesn't go as far as showing how to create different charts. If you need that info, there is a link to Alexander Bautz (the author of this chapter)'s personal blog where details are given.
There's a chapter on logic functions and calculated columns that's clear, but I would imagine most developers have already got to grips with using If, AND, OR and NOT. More useful is one on creating document libraries with mixed content sources, though this essentially is a heads-up to the fact that SharePoint is quite happy for you to create document libraries that contain links to other things in the same document library, whether those other things are websites or documents residing in other areas. A short but useful chapter then goes through how to set up tabbed pages in SharePoint to avoid the user having to scroll down content that exceeds a single page. The final chapter shows how to create a global navigation solution that you can use to span across site collections.
This is a useful book, and includes some interesting ideas on how to work around some of SharePoint's annoyances. I got a little frustrated with the 'go to our website to find out more' theme, but on the whole the material was good enough for me to be willing to live with it.