Sunday, January 23, 2005

One of the roles I went for last year but didn't get, was with A big part of the role was project managing the remodelling of their site's look-n-feel.

The new look launched today, and looks great! Like any brand new design, there are some hard edges that will need to get filed down. A case in point is the yellow highlighted links, on my LCD they are a little too faded to be easy to see. However, I would definitely give it 9/10, especially as it now looks great in Firefox as well as IE!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Portal software: passing fad or real value?

I noticed today that James Robertson has agreed with an article by Janus Boye called Portal software: passing fad or real value?.

It seems that James and Janus are of the opinion that portal software is overrated and unnecessary if you have a good Content Management System (CMS). Hardly surprising given they are both running "vendor-neutral" content management consultancies.

To be sure, Janus' portal examples do seem to make his point. However, I don't think these problems are as relevant to Windows SharePoint Services / SharePoint Portal Server 2003 as they might be to the portals he gives examples from.

Specifically the problems of 'portlets' going missing is not applilcable to SharePoint, and their URLs are more human readable than many websites I've seen. Cost may be an issue, but then has he priced MSCMS recently?

Performance can also be an issue, but when used to integrate line of business (LOB) applications you need dynamic pages, and most content I've seen is meant to be dynamic - not static. Of course SPS 2003 does have web parts that let you edit content in place, with either WYSIWIG or raw HTML editors, so that's another touted benefit of CMS that's been absorbed.

When he gets to the bit that talks about the "top features requested on corporate intranets" (and from what survey did you get that Janus? :P) they are exactly the sort of features (enterprisewide search, employee info) that something like SPS 2003 can enable better than MSCMS, so where is the argument there?

When you then also consider the collaborative benefits of MS Office 2003 plus SharePoint, it becomes much harder to see why you would imagine a CMS can offer your enterprise anywhere near the same functionality.

Of course Janus does make some good points. A portal solution (as with any IT solution) is "not a silver bullet", and the human side of the project is always going to take hard work. Portals are also not going to make your internet site the next big thing, and are probably a waste of time for most internet/extranet sites. The most interesting point for me is that Microsoft have merged their CMS and SharePoint teams, and we may very well see the tools moving closer together in the next few versions.

Jakob Nielsen has made some good points about what a good intranet portal should be about, and most interestingly said:
Intranet portals aim to replace the wild Web model with a tool metaphor, where a company's content and services work together instead of undermining each other. Having a single starting point, a single overview of each user's most important services, a single search, a single navigation scheme and information architecture, and a single set of consistent page design templates all combine to make the intranet portal a more promising corporate information infrastructure.
To my mind that is a vindication of Microsoft's direction with SharePoint, and their .NET integration toolset (Reporting Services etc.). There are still problems, but it will be interesting seeing how they get ironed out over the coming years, because, guess what, SharePoint isn't going away.

Monday, January 10, 2005

GM FastLane Blog

General Motors have started the FastLane Blog by their Vice-Chairman, Bob Lutz. This is one of the first Fortune 100 companies to do this and it will be interesting to see how long/whether it stays around. Based on Bob's interest in user comments I expect it might become a good way of gathering informal feedback from GM clients and fans.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Firefox and Sharepoint

Patrick Cauldwell has worked out how to do something VERY interesting, using Firefox and Sharepoint together, and not having the annoying problem of needing to re-authenticate on every page.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Programming Fonts

On a lighter note, Coding Horror has an article about Progamming Fonts, giving a set of examples.

Personally I like the look of ProFont, so I'll give that a spin for a while.

[EDIT: I've investigated these and on reflection I really like Proggy Clean (slashed zeroes).]