Despite the many new features in the latest release of Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration product, the simple truth is that in web content management it is still some way off the pace, says Darren Guarnaccia.
Now that the dust has settled after May's introduction of the latest instalment of SharePoint, I think it's worth looking more closely at the web content management (WCM) parts of the suite.
Even though it appears Microsoft has invested little in the WCM aspects of SharePoint, there are some notable improvements — namely, authoring usability, simple content targeting based on user behaviour, multi-language, taxonomy and metadata management, workflow and basic web analytics.
It's good to see Microsoft addressing these issues to address some of SharePoint's more serious shortcomings.
Inline editing environment
Authoring usability improvements stem from SharePoint's shiny new inline editing environment. Credit where due, Microsoft has made some real progress here. This release brings Microsoft up to where the WCM marketplace was in about 2005.
Don't get me wrong: it's a nice improvement and overcomes some of the criticisms from business users who complain that SharePoint is hard to use.
Next, there's the simple content targeting based on user behaviour. The days of the static, one-size-fits-all, customer-facing websites are gone. SharePoint 2010 allows site managers to set up simple keyword-based content targeting rules that show visitors content based on their browsing patterns.
Again, it makes a good start here considering Microsoft is playing some catch-up. SharePoint still lags behind the best WCM products, which offer a more sophisticated set of user profiling and targeting tools.
The new multi-language improvements in SharePoint offer the ability to route translation requests in line with content changes in multi-language websites. SharePoint still stores each language version in its own individual site variation, but the 2010 release at least allows you to start coordinating the content update process across all the various language versions. In SharePoint 2007, you had to develop this process on your own. Again, this is more catch-up work relative to the WCM market specialists.
To give Microsoft its due, taxonomy and metadata management is actually...