What is Microsoft SharePoint?

Microsoft SharePoint products and technologies include browser-based collaboration and a document-management platform. These can be used to host web sites that access shared workspaces and documents, as well as specialised applications like wikis and blogs from a browser. Users can manipulate proprietary controls or pieces of content called web parts to create or modify sites.

SharePoint is not intended to replace a full file server. Instead, it is targeted as a collaborative workspace, a tool for the management and automation of business processes, and a platform for social networking.  The SharePoint interface is through a web interface, such as a task list or discussion pane. SharePoint sites are actually ASP.NET 2.0 applications, which are served using IIS and use a SQL Server database as a data storage backend. All site content data is stored within a SQL Server database called WSS_Content.

The term “SharePoint” collectively refers to two products, the platform and the services. WSS is the platform and is included with Windows Server, while MOSS provides additional services and is licensed separately. As of 2009 the most current of these two are:

• Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS)
• Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS)

WSS comprises of the core functionality, with MOSS built on top to provide extra features.

Previous versions of this software used different names (SharePoint Portal Server 2003, for example) but are referred to as “SharePoint”.

In the beginning, SharePoint was a mixed bag of products and technologies. Among them was Site Server in 1998. The SharePoint initiative was collectively called Tahoe.

The SharePoint family also includes the Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer

The SharePoint family

Windows SharePoint Services (WSS)
Microsoft Search Server (MSS), an enterprise search platform from Microsoft, builds on the search capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. MSS shares its architectural underpinnings with the Windows Search platform for both the querying engine as well as the indexer. MOSS search provides the ability to search metadata attached to documents.

Microsoft has made Microsoft Search Server available as Search Server 2008, released March 2008. A free version, Search Server 2008 Express, is also available. The express edition features the same feature set as the commercial edition, including no limitation on the number of files indexed. However, it is limited to a stand-alone installation and cannot be scaled out to a cluster.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer
The WYSIWYG HTML editor Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer primarily targets the design of SharePoint sites and end-user workflows for WSS sites. It is the successor to FrontPage 2003. It shares its rendering engine with Microsoft Expression Web, its general web designing sibling, and Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2008 IDE. SPD represents a next-generation Microsoft replacement for Microsoft FrontPage. SPD requires that IIS has Frontpage extensions installed on the server.

Through a next-generation family of data controls (like the DataView WebPart) and XPath, SharePoint Designer enables developers to manipulate data from SharePoint or external sources (such as Microsoft SQL Server) without coding directly against the .NET Framework.

Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 used Microsoft FrontPage. FrontPage is not compatible with SharePoint 2007 or MOSS.

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