On.. Technology Overload

Even before visiting TechEd we were having a bit of a crisis of which technologies to use for our new Intranet development. We have a totally clean slate to start from and will be changing our entire system and our working methods. The problem we are now facing is that we have an embarrassment of riches as far as technology goes, we have no real limit on which technologies we adopt and it seems an unlimited choice of technologies.

Our current options boil down to three basic choices. An entirely Sharepoint 2007 based Intranet, a Sharepoint 2007 document management and site provisioning solution, heavily customised with a .NET 3.0 layer on top of it, or an entirely custom solution ditching Sharepoint all together.

The last option won’t be happening, the way that Sharepoint integrates with Word and other Office apps is something we can’t easily replicate. So I am currenly looking at the Sharepoint Web Services in order to find out how good they are and what we can do with them in terms of re-tooling them on our own .NET based platform. This is my current favoured option.

For me Sharepoint as a product has too many unknowns to guarantee that in 2 or 3 years time it won’t have become a burden to develop on. Right now we have about 14 or 15 different applications running on the intranet, from Image libraries to GIS systems. Our business is civil engineering so most of the work done here is in AutoCAD or other specialist engineering tools, so we will want to be interfacing those with Sharepoint as well. That is as of right now, there is also the fact we will be integrating our finance system, a custom appliction we have built on top of Aggresso, with just about everything in the future, the thought of doing that through Sharepoint features or web parts fills me with dread. Even then it is possible, what I don’t know is what will be requested in 12 or 18 months time and I never want to be in a position to say “no, our platform won’t let us do that”… something that wouldn’t happen with a hybrid solution.

Right now the real issue is the checking in and checking out of files via web services, basically out of the box it can’t be done, we’ll need to write our own service to do this. Further more I then want it to interface nicely with word so when I click my “edit” button it has all the Sharepoint functionality in Word all set up and running on the right hand side, what I don’t know is if that comes up automatically when a document is checked out to you, or if it requires a different intermediary stage. Right now that knowledge isn’t forth coming.

Did I mention we want the end to be rather slick, which on a browser interface means AJAX…

So we have too much choice, too many unknowns, too much future to think about and too many users who will be after our heads if it isn’t up to scratch… this should be an interesting development.

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  1. 1 On.. Platform Vs. Software « BuzzSort Trackback on November 27, 2007 at 6:33 pm

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