SharePoint 2007

Bert Boerland predicts: Within 3 years the acronym "CMS" won't mean "Content Management System" anymore but will be redefined to "Community Management System".

Markets are more likely to fragment than to consolidate so I think both will co-exist and inevitably overlap. That said, I agree with the notion that community software will continue to emerge and that content isn't king. And to contribute to the disorderly jumble that is the CMS acronym, may I suggest a third term: Collaboration Management System. It might be a better match.

Especially the introduction of SharePoint 2007 might have significant impact on this particular market. SharePoint 2007 adds features like forums, blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, news aggregation, surveys, issue tracking ... but also install profiles and custom content types. Clearly, Microsoft decided to play catch up. And rumor has it that the improved integration with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook is jaw-dropping.

Drupal's document management functionality and integration with tools like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice is severely lacking. As it stands, Drupal is not a good SharePoint alternative, yet there is quite a bit of overlap in terms of functionality. It sure makes for an interesting situation.

I wonder what impact the introduction of SharePoint 2007 will have. What was once an important Drupal differentiator (i.e. bundling a wide variety of functionality into a single platform) will finally become commodity in 2007. Instead, seamless integration with other applications might become essential to compete? Interesting times!


Anonymous (not verified):

Has any work been done to integrate Drupal and Alfresco? It's a project we would be very interested in.

Andrew Fountain (not verified):

It is not particularly hard to integrate Drupal into Microsoft Office. I am a SharePoint instructor, but actually use Drupal for all my sites. I have been able to link Microsoft Access directly into Drupal content using ODBC and a query to the MySQL database and demonstrate similar functionality to that provided by SharePoint.

Caleb (not verified):

There is nothing stopping Drupal from integrating as much or as little as anyone would want it to with Microsoft Office and/or Open Office. It could probably be done quickly if some talented people got interested (and past any disdain they have for the idea).

The concept of integration itself is pretty great, but based on history I believe any fronts opened up by Microsoft will amount more to noise and hype than actual decent implementations. (Think PowerPoint/Publisher/FrontPage on steriods.)

Designers and developers as a whole, dislike Microsoft and don't view it or recommend it as a serious platform for high-end work. If those two groups don't buy into SharePoint who will work on making the site cohesive? The IT and/or marketing departments? Hm. Let a few of those pop up and people will scurry to find better alternatives. :)

Anonymous (not verified):

Developers dislike Microsoft? News to me, and about a zillion other .Net developers.

Steve Ballmer may be a jackass. And sure, you have to hate anyone as rich as Gates. But .Net is a developers tool that has no parallel.... and C# kicks butt


Make sure to read Matt Asay's response for additional insights. Matt has a lot of experience with SharePoint, does business development at Alfresco, and is an advisor to SugarCRM and JasperSoft.

Gunnar Langemark (not verified):

I'm working on SharePoint projects - as a strategic advisor, apart from having been with Drupal for some years now.

Drupal is indeed an excellent collaboration tool, community tool, etc. However, Drupal does not do the out-of-the-box integration with Office, that the new MOSS2007 will do. It is not just sharing a user base. It is working in the groups - posting, commenting, checking in and out, having tasks in your outlook, as well as notes and events, etc etc.

What Microsoft has set out to do, is to let the Office Desktop be the place from which you work much of the time - and not the browser. This is the way most office workers prefer it.

Microsoft is not screwing this up, and it is not just hype. It is the third iteration mind you! There is a LARGER plan in this. They are also integrating the ERP systems (Dynamics - formerly known as Navision and Axapta) - which means even more vendor lock in, but also a better workplace for information workers, as they call them.

I posted about the MS and SEX thing here almost a year ago. I also posted about SharePoint here in April 2004, when there was a big "roadshow" in Denmark that I attended.

Caleb G (not verified):

"Integration is only possible as long as systems uphold open standards. Hope Sharepoint 2007 takes this to heart."

As much as I back the ideal of open standards, I'm not sure how much practicality such sentiments have in terms of making widely relevant/appealing software which can make it not only in the world of personal computing, but also in the boardroom and IT departments.

Whatever Microsoft's standards are (sure "open" won't necessarily be the first word anyone thinks of), it seems pennywise and pound foolish not to figure out how to integrate with whatever open and/or closed system they have. CMS's are one of the few areas in which there is a realistic hope in avoiding a Microsoft monopoly on office communications/publishing. A good way to neutralize their 800 lb gorilla leverage, might be to make "Microsoft Office interoperability" a commodity (!). For too long they've been able to cash in on that 'selling point'.

Is there any way to out mainstream Microsoft with compatibility/integration, and avoid being marginalized/radicalized?

Jeremy Epstein (not verified):

SharePoint certainly is an amazing piece of software. When I was first introduced to SharePoint a few months ago, I immediately recognised it as "the last missing piece in the Microsoft jigsaw puzzle".

I was amazed at how perfectly it integrated the entirety of MS Office functionality (Word / Excel / PowerPoint / Outlook / etc) into a web portal system. You can edit Office documents directly within your web site. You can embed Office assets (e.g. graphs from spreadsheets, calendars from Outlook) directly into your regular web content. I wasn't at all surprised that my (then) employers saw it as the tool of their dreams, and as the answer to all their problems.

But, from my (limited) experience, there are a number of ways in which SharePoint has been (and probably always will be) inferior to Drupal and most other open-source web site systems:

  1. Difficult to make a SharePoint site not look like a SharePoint site. Complete control over the HTML/CSS output is next to impossible.
  2. Due to the presence of ActiveX objects and poor markup, SharePoint sites only work 100% in IE.
  3. SharePoint sites may integrate perfectly with the rest of the Microsoft product family, but they also depend on it (e.g. they only run on IIS).

These limitations, IMHO, make SharePoint more suitable as an Intranet portal for team collaboration and knowledge-sharing, than as an actual customer-facing CMS solution.

I think that SharePoint and Drupal are targeted towards two completely different markets. It's therefore understandable that they would have completely different features.


Thanks for the additional information. No need to convince me that SharePoint is a powerful tool (I already wrote that), or that Drupal and SharePoint have different target users (I already wrote that).

What I was asking was this: what is SharePoint 2007's impact going to be on our world, or on our users' expectations of that world?

As Jeremy mentioned in the comments, it pulls many of this to the desktop where it integrates with rich desktop applications (i.e. tracking tasks and issues in Outlook, the ability to work in offline mode when you commute to work, saving your documents automatically checks them in into a versioning system and triggers various workflow actions, etc).

Make no mistake; I'm not losing sleep over any of this and I don't think it is a problem for Drupal. It is just that I thoroughly enjoy myself thinking about these things. Maybe I'm obsessed by the future, I don't know.

Gunnar (not verified):

Sharepoint and Drupal are increasingly not that much different.

The history of the Sharepoint package is the history of three distinct products: collaborations tools (aka: Sharepoint services), portal system (aka: Sharepoint portal server) and content management (aka: content management server). The first two were sort of integrated in the second version of Sharepoint -- which is still the default version. With MOSS2007, Microsoft is integrating the content management server into Sharepoint, which means that you can - and should - build your website and extranet in the Sharepoint environment to fully take advantage of the power of Sharepoint.

I think that the way Drupal and Sharepoint do not compete is on platform. Most companies have chosen to go the Microsoft way. It's their right, and if they want that kind of lock in - maybe because of convenience - they should not be forced to depart from that strategy. So they should choose to go with Sharepoint if they can afford it.

If however, they do not have a stated Microsoft strategy, they may be well adviced to take a look at Drupal as a platform to build their collaboration applications on. And that is exactly where I stand today in my consulting with clients.

So - as I have stated on a number of occasions during the past few years - I think Drupal should position itself - not in comparison with Joomla and small open source content management systems - but rather in comparison with Sharepoint and other community or collaboration management platforms or systems. It is a market on the rise, and it is not as crowded with small competitors fighting for attention.

Jay (not verified):

Wow to say they are increasingly not that different is quite a bold claim. I would say for any of you looking for comparisons of Drupal vs Sharepoint, for really in-depth analysis read comparisons from people ON THE GROUND. The developers/sys admins who are actually responsible end-to-end. I have developed dozens of Drupal sites and deployed them, I have also developed a public-facing Sharepoint site and worked closely with the windows administrator. While they attempt to tackle a similar problem - that is, content management, they do it in a completely different way.

Sharepoint champions Microsoft integration and has a huge barrier to entry just to get started that Drupal doesn't have. The cost is by no means nominal and I don't see that discussed as often. With Microsoft you have to pay the license for MOSS which is like what 40 grand? I believe you also have to have CALS for each developer. You have to have Sharepoint designer and Visual Studio for each developer, Sharepoint designer for each designer. Expect to pay top dollar for Sharepoint developers (which I suppose you like if you are one - except you have to work on Sharepoint). Plus to enjoy the integration features you need Microsoft Office. Also to develop you need to either run Windows Server or use a more practical VM with Sharepoint. Oh and to run a VM with Sharepoint you HAVE to have 2 gig dedicated to enjoy any decent level of performance. So if you're running XP 32-bit you better have 3 gig. If you have Vista you need to run 64-bit and you need 4 gig dedicated (2 gig for vista / 2 gig for the VM) - and for many organizations that means upgrading hardware for their developers. Also you better have a good sys admin, bc don't expect to launch a Sharepoint site without an expert windows administrator ($$$). Add up the total cost and you can see why there aren't a lot of small shops (any?) launching sharepoint sites.

I will leave you just the money comparison for today. There is much more to discuss eg pain of theming (HUGE!), deployment, the fact that the out of the box web parts SUCK, quirkiness for the most straight forward things (viewing a calendar item anonymously/blog entry anonymously), I could go on and on, and I will - stay tuned for a blog series =)

moshe weitzman (not verified):

Sounds like Sharepoint has come a long way. I evaluated the first version for an intranet at my old company and I was completely unimpressed. We went with Drupal and Quickbase and that was the right decision back then. Sharepoint was good at collaborative document stuff (Drupal is still weak here) but the custom content types and listings were awful. Little business apps like 'vacation tracking' and so on were impossible.

If Sharepoint really is as good as folks claim here, I do agree that it is a big obstacle to Drupal and other projects making inroads into intranet land.

jansky (not verified):

My answer to Dries question ...

What is SharePoint 2007's impact going to be on our world, or on our users' expectations of that world?

... relies on a definition of "our world": social networks and (mostly) non profit organizations built on a free will to share knowledge and social/civic participation.

Having said this I sincerely do not see very much of an impact on such a kind of communities by expensive software (Microsoft SharePoint 2007) based on more expensive software (Microsoft Office).

Don't get me wrong: I am not thinking on a "Ivory Tower" basis assuming that this kind of social networks will not "mix" with commercial business networks or such, but I am just pointing out that the "biggest" share of open source CMS users, in general, doesn't match with the potential users of SharePoint. I guess it's a matter of core interests, financial size, target groups and vision of the organizations that could have to face the choice Drupal vs. SharePoint.

Rick Hood (not verified):

My feeling is that Sharepoint may "change the world" in large businesses, but not in small and medium-sized businesses.

Employees of small and medium sized businesses do not collaborate as much as one might think. Most of the time there is just a one-person-to-one-document relationship and that's it. Then it is not collaboration that is wanted as much as ease of publication. I would say that 90% of what these people need is easy publication, and maybe 10% collaboration.

Being able to publish right from Word, Excel, etc. is great, but it is just not a big deal to use file management instead, either within a file management type CMS or simply files on a shared network drive. I think many small businesses are very happy doing it that way.

Histrionic (not verified):

I really wish open source tools like Drupal—which I'm now using, having migrated from Userland Frontier—would include richer tools to integrate with the desktop experience.

I think Userland's drive towards the Manila API and XML-RPC was spot on, but it seems like no one has really run with that story since. Sure, there are competing APIs but from a user point of view, they pretty much all do the same things and are over-complicated reinventions of the wheel.

I'd love to see something like the various blogging APIs that exposes the full functionality of a Drupal site to the desktop in a cross-platform manner. It needs to support at least Windows and Mac OS X, and preferably also Linux, to be open. It also needs to have security for transport (SSL/TLS) and strong authentication options (including Kerberos/GSSAPI and so on) to be considered in the emerging security context of workplaces. Whether it's based on XML-RPC, SOAP, JSON, or something else entirely, I don't really care (although it would be a shame to not be based on some existing standard that other systems could reuse).

It would be very helpful to have a standard core set of operations that could be used on multiple CMSes, but it seems that when that has been tried, we've ended up only solving the blogging problem, not the full CMS problem.

Of course, the story for adding inline graphics to a Drupal story is worse than I saw with Userland Manila in 1999; there's no clear way to do it out of box. Every major release of Drupal breaks just about every contributed module is also frustrating, if you are an end user who just wants to stay up to date. If the Drupal community can't get these kinds of user-centric issues handled by v5.1, I'm not sure that the much more complex problem of desktop integration can get better.

Histrionic (not verified):

I will point out that Sharepoint is not as expensive if you already have Microsoft volume licensing in place. The desktop bundles can give you Office and Sharepoint CALS (among others) in one fell swoop, which means that if you're already VLed for Office, someone might decide that you should use Sharepoint, too. After all, you're already paying for it…

Eddie (not verified):

I think Sharepoint provides End-to-End integration with the users desktop.

That is it's competitive advantage.

Unless the drupal community through google can collaborate on integration with open-office and google apps, then drupal will remain outside of intranets.

Sharepoint looks at office collaboration and extends the office into the virtual space, ie. remote offices. It's the concept of improving productivity through automated workflow and open collaboration.

For drupal, it needs workflow and versioning, then integration with office products. For this to happen, drupal developers need incentive.


Dave Hite (not verified):

I'm working with a team to implement Sharepoint 2003 as a corporate intranet to over 14,000 folks globally. On the weekends, I enjoy building large-scale Joomla sites which has MORE functionality and ease of use than Sharepoint. However - I must say that if you or your organization is a Microsoft Shop, the integration with MS stuff is pretty sweet...however, if you try to plug it into anything else in the Web 2.0 world...good luck.

With Joomla, it is so easy to "modularize" your site. You have Mambots, Components, and Modules...the installation takes less than a minute in most cases and it integrates into the look and feel of the site. With Sharepoint, you have Web Parts that require command line installations and time from your happy programming group (which ain't got no time for your stinking webpart installation...) I'm a bit cynical since we've had so much trouble with Microsoft.

Joomla (or Drupal which I have very limited experience with) have such wonderful support and development communities and the price (FREE) is fantastic. I just wish Microsoft could adopt a more simple model.

Give em' some time. We'll all be seeing our wonderful world of Freemium be bought by the big dogs.

Anonymous (not verified):

I am at a Sharepoint 2007 course right now. I've been using Drupal for 2 years.

I wish there was a better way to upload files into Drupal. The upload process in Sharepoint is sweet.

Webdav integration would be cool with Drupal.

Samuel (not verified):

Interesting times yes. One thing that might be worth noticing - I think - is how much MS is "selling" because of their fresh, business-like and feel-at-home (for MS people) feeling of their products. I'm quite sure the eye candy is often what actually sells it to all the (maybe sligthly less technically minded) decision makers. Something for Open Source developers to think about...

Anyway, that's why I went on and created a "Sharepoint clone Drupal theme" (BTW I ported into a MediaWiki skin too, for seamless integration of look-and-feel).

Seen Drupal like this before, no? =)

Jay (not verified):

To me if you want to sell me an intranet for a corporation, Sharepoint could be an option albeit an expensive one. You have to have a CAL for each user if the site is an intranet. You need at least 1 Sharepoint developer and sys admin to run it tho you can make use of a lot of the built in features and theming isn't important which is one of the biggest drawbacks with Sharepoint. Certainly if you already run Microsoft everything you get to enjoy all the integration features and there are many.

Still for a public facing site there is no comparison as far as cost/usability/features/community support/flexibility--did I say cost?/oh and cost.

James Abrahams (not verified):

Well, Sharepoint 2010 has been out for a while! It definitely shows Microsoft's commitment to making Sharepoint work. Every new version has been seriously awesome compared to the last really fitting the needs of what previous people found lacking.

Personally I think Sharepoint will be only a good thing for the Drupal community. The pricing is not that bad (Sharepoint comes free with a windows server which many medium sized businesses will already have, the 40k is only for the enterprise edition) but as far as I have seen even Microsoft don't use Sharepoint as its forward facing community website software. Sharepoint is well good at handling internal stuff and thats it I think.

However, along with Facebook in the consumer world, if Sharepoint gains traction in the corporate world it can help educate everyone on the concepts of openness, transparency, collaboration and filtering information.

In a world used to filing cabinets with pieces of paper Drupal's node based system is conceptually confusing to most people imo. However, its so much better for a world based around search and collaboration and information being used in multiple different ways rather then one set pre-imagined intended way. Microsoft seems to be trying to move towards this (the threat to remove proper folders for example) and Sharepoint seems to be constantly pushing for this.

Whilst Joomla is actually more similar to SharePoint then Drupal at the moment I feel that SharePoint is trying to get people in the direction that Drupal is already at. Drupal is so much nicer at sharing information with all its modules then Joomla. Looking forward for this future.