When it comes to SharePoint, it’s a sin not to have a word on WSS. To say the least, WSS is the cradle in which SharePoint was born. It’s a freely available offering from Microsoft. For the geeks, WSS is a set of services and programs that provide a foundation for not only SharePoint Products and Technologies but also other server products like Enterprise Project Management Server, BizTalk Server etc. People tend to say that WSS is all about collaboration which is not true in my opinion and that’s what I am going to discuss here.
As expected, Microsoft while moving from V2.0 to V3.0 introduced several new features that have added value to the already available platform services. You might have heard of the war of ‘Using the word SharePoint’ that is going on between famous SharePoint bloggers like Fritz and Arpan Shah. Although the idea behind fighting over whether SharePoint is an adjective or a noun might not seem appropriate but the important aspect is to keep an eye on is the intention of MS: bringing WSS to a stage where it can serve as both a solution and development platform.
Presenting WSS as a Solution Platform is quite reasonable for obvious reasons. There are already services available and API exposed (enhanced in v3) which can be used inside and outside the SharePoint context. Microsoft, as part of Office SharePoint Server, has shipped some applications built on top of WSS 3.0 and the services are ready for you to make use of and develop new solutions. When I talk about the development platform, it’s more from the framework point of view. Those who have worked/ developed for SPS 2003 might know that it made use of .NET 1.1, yes the .NET classes, but not the framework itself to a very large extent. In WSS 3.0, however, the story is a bit more .NET friendly. WSS 3.0, to a bigger extent, leverages the framework services available in .NET 2.0, the provider framework, authentication framework, the web part framework etc. This depicts the idea that WSS and .NET, who were once far apart, are now becoming closer to each other and what I can guess is (don’t know what MS guys are thinkingJ) that this growing friendship of WSS and .NET may result in a merger whereby the set of development frameworks provided by Microsoft combine with the power of WSS and present a unified solution and development platform.
We can see that WSS isn’t just a collaboration tool rather; the new generation of WSS can be considered a foundation platform to develop highly flexible and re-usable web application services. To conclude, I would like to recommend a good book written by Todd Bleeker named Developer’s Guide to the Windows SharePoint Services v3 Platform (Charles River Media Programming).