On.. Switching to Office 2007

The wonders of MSDN have allowed to me to start running Office 2007. It is definitely and interesting experience the first few times you use it.

For a start Word doesn’t start with Times New Roman, immediately making documents look more attractive and feel more professional. The menu system/ribbon didn’t take me very long to get used to at all, particularly as I’m only ever really doing basic function with Word. I’ve not come across any problems saving to different formats to make sure they are compatible with older versions of Word. The only problem I’ve come across is when my wife picked it up to use it, being an IT professional myself if I want to select everything in a document I simply press cntl+A, however my wife does it through the menu system in previous versions of work. She spent nearly 20 minutes trying to find out how to do it in 2007. Its these kinds of things that are going to put of experienced users.

I’ve had a play around with Powerpoint. I found it pretty easy to us. I do however have a potential issue with the new styles and themes they give you, in fact the same will be true for Word and Excel. Right now they look fresh and dynamic, however give it a couple of years we will start to look at all those nice themes and styles the same way most people look at Word clip art now days.

From a programming point of view things have definitely improved, although there isn’t a huge amount that you couldn’t do with previous versions of Office, you can now do them much easier. Programability you can actually use is in some ways better than new programability.

Seeing as Office is now a “System” you get a confusing amount of server side choices to get the full power out of it. I don’t envy any IT Manager or IT Buyer having to navigate the license matrix to work out what is the best fit for them. This is definitely one of the things that would put me off buying.

Right now we are buried deep in a Sharepoint system build, whilst there are some great things there it is immensily obtuse to program for, doesn’t integrate well with Visual Studio and very troublesome to customise the look and feel of the portal side of things. I’m hoping these issues will be dealt with in time, but frankly they should have been dealt with by now, 3 versions in. The actual portal HTML is a ridiculous throw back to the days of people doing their entire layout in tables, it follows no standards and has so many issues around having a number of different style sheets, in-line style and HTML element markup. For example a table may have a border and cellspacing set in HTML, a stylesheet class and if you modify something in Sharepoint Designer it will have inline style as well. It jsut doesn’t feel thought through.

The Sharepoint Services backend integrates nicely with Office System 2007, particularly if you include Live Communications Server in your package. It makes collaborating with team members and communicating with staff a fairly transparent process. You can get away with running without the portal front end whilst still maintaining document management and collaboration.

Lets hope that the next Sharepoint version is a significant improvement in terms of integration with Visual Studio and customisability, my only problem right now is if Sharepoint is part of Office do we need to wait till the next Office release before we get an improved Sharepoint?

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