The development of SharePoint 2007 placed considerable emphasis in on the improvement of the collaboration functionality in the platform. New collaboration techniques, such as blogs, wikis, and RSS feed support, were added and existing collaboration functionality was enhanced and improved. End users will immediately notice the improvements made to this area, so it is of considerable importance to understand the key features in the category.
Leveraging Workflow for Enhanced Collaboration
Workflows are now available in SharePoint 2007 lists and libraries. The interface is intuitive enough that even less experienced administrators can quickly create and test workflows. Several standard workflows are provided (including Approval, Collect Feedback, Collect Signatures, and Disposition Approval), and the workflows tasks are tracked in either an existing Tasks list or a new one created specifically for the workflow. A Workflow History list tracks the workflows history. Participants in the workflow are notified by email when they have a task to complete, and can interact with the workflow from Office 2007 applications such as Word 2007. Chapter 21, Using Design 2007 to Extend SharePoint 2007 Workflows and Customize the User Experience, provides additional information about workflows.
"SharePoint 2007 Unleashed" learn more
SharePoint 2007 includes advanced calendaring functionality, allowing the creation of team calendars directly in SharePoint 2007. Figure 1.8 shows an example. SharePoint 2007 also allows integration directly into personal Exchange 2003/2007 calendars through Outlook Web Accessbased web parts included in the platform.
Blogging with SharePoint 2007
One of the more popular communications mechanisms in use on the World Wide Web today is the web log, commonly shortened to blog. A blog, as shown in Figure 1.9, is a mechanism similar to a newsgroup in which a user can enter a question or information about a specific topic, and then have multiple other users add their own responses to the question. The original author can moderate the responses before adding them to the site, or have responses automatically added. Topics can include simple items, such as What should we have for lunch at the team meeting, or complex technical discussions.
Using Wikis for User-Generated Content
Wikis have been increasingly popular in online collaboration circles in recent years, so much so that they have been included as a design element available by default in SharePoint 2007. A wiki page, such as the one shown in Figure 1.10, is one to which users can easily add their own information about a particular topic, allowing them to easily add new pages, links to pages, and modify other users content. This allows a team to create its own content quickly and easily and to moderate other users content, empowering the users ability to impart their own knowledge with little effort. Figure 1.10 shows a wiki page in Edit mode. The page shows users changes, with deletions crossed out and additions highlighted.
Determining User Presence Information
SharePoint 2007 includes built-in smart tags that display every time there is a reference to a user object, such as when an individual user adds a document. The smart tag allows access to a sequence of communications options, such as those shown in Figure 1.11. For example, the smart tag can be emailed, phoned (if integrated with a phone PBX platform through Exchange 2007), or instant messaged.
When an end user uses an approved instant messenger client, such as Communicator 2007, MSN Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger, and a contact from the users buddy list appears with a smart tag, the user can obtain the contacts presence information. The user can then user can get in touch with the contact directly from the SharePoint site.
In addition, SharePoint can integrate with an enterprise presence platform, such as Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 or Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005. Those applications can display presence information for any user within the enterprise, not just those in a buddy list. Chapter 19, Enabling Presence Information in SharePoint with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, presents more information about integrating SharePoint 2007 with Office Communications Server 2007.