SharePoint Laying the Foundation

The core product in the family of SharePoint technologies is Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). Because WSS is the foundational product, no other product in the SharePoint family is possible without it.

WSS is a full-blown ASP.NET 2.0 Web application, which means it runs hosted inside ASP.NET. When you install WSS, you have to install ASP.NET and everything it requires to run, including the following:

  • Internet Information Services (IIS) version 6 or 7: This is Microsoft’s Web server, which is used to host SharePoint. Most typical SharePoint usage scenarios can configure IIS from within SharePoint. You don’t have to manage IIS directly very often.
  • .NET Framework version 2.0 and 3.0: This is a set of software that installs ASP.NET and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). After you enable ASP.NET 2.0 on the server, you don’t have to do anything else to configure .NET.
  • SQL Server 2000 or later: This is Microsoft’s database management system. SharePoint can create all the databases it needs, or you can create them yourself. You’re responsible for managing backups of your data.
  • Windows Server 2003 or later: This is Microsoft’s server operating system. Monitor the servers that host SharePoint just like you would any server.

WSS provides the core set of services consumed by all products in the SharePoint family, especially MOSS 2007. These services include the following:

Data storage and content management: WSS provides lists and libraries as structures for storing data. Lists are primarily used to store tabular data, whereas libraries store files.

WSS provides a robust set of services for managing the data and files stored in lists and libraries, services that allow you to do the following:

  • Associate metadata with list items and files
  • Create versions of list items and files
  • Check out files for editing
  • Index sites, lists, and libraries for searching purposes
  • Manage content approval
  • Use list items and libraries in a business process

WSS includes many specialized kinds of lists and libraries that you can use to perform certain tasks. See Chapter 4 for a complete run-down of the lists and libraries you encounter in SharePoint.

Web platform and site model: All SharePoint’s features are delivered via a hierarchy of Web sites. It takes only a few mouse clicks to generate sites with SharePoint’s site provisioning mode.

SharePoint generates a full-featured Web site based on an XML configuration file. (WSS includes many of these configuration files that allow you to create a variety of SharePoint sites to suit the needs of your business. You can also customize the files or create your own.)

Because SharePoint is an ASP.NET Web application, SharePoint is an excellent platform for delivering Web applications that include a Web part framework, navigation, and dynamic form and page generation. SharePoint gives you a viable alternative to building ASP.NET Web applications from scratch.

Security: SharePoint provides a security-trimmed user interface so that users see only the options they have permissions for.

SharePoint uses groups and roles for granting access to secure content, and virtually everything in SharePoint is securable. The most common authentication scenario for SharePoint is Active Directory, although SharePoint supports custom authentication schemes (such as forms-based authentication) as well.

Management: SharePoint provides a multi-tiered administration model that makes it possible to isolate technical administrators from sensitive content. Administrators can’t see the files and other content that information workers save in SharePoint sites.

Additional administration features include auditing, monitoring, and backing up and restoring tools. SharePoint provides specialized administration Web sites. All administrative features are also accessible from the command line and via code. Chapter 18 walks you through accessing the SharePoint administrative features.

Services: A number of services are provided by SharePoint that support SharePoint’s other core services. These include notification services, such as RSS feeds, alerts, and inbound e-mail.

WSS indexes all list, library, and site content so these items can be searched. SharePoint also provides migration tools to assist with deploying SharePoint.

Application programming interfaces (APIs): SharePoint has a powerful object model and Web services. Everything you can do from the SharePoint user interface uses SharePoint APIs; thus, you can write code to access all SharePoint’s features.

SharePoint makes available numerous before-and-after events that make it possible to customize SharePoint’s default behavior.