MOSS should be spelt MOCKERY

Microsoft released MOSS, Microsoft Sharepoint Office Portal, which is a web-based collaboration and document management platform.

Besides from the fact that the words “Office” and “Sharepoint” in the same sentence make me fringe, I think Microsoft deserve the benefit of a doubt. After all, they have been working hard to make the .NET framework better in a lot of aspects. They have proven that they care about things such as web standards and accessibility, and amongst other things, published the article Building ASP.NET 2.0 Web Sites Using Web Standards.

Beside that the initial approach with a form element surrounding the content of the entire page is fundamentally wrong, Microsoft apparently do try to improve less-than-perfect products and make things better.

So, trying out MOSS should at least be on the same level as .NET, right? Wrong! I strongly advise you, no matter what you work with, to read Emil’s outstanding articles:

The reason they should be read is, of course, partly from learning if you have to work with MOSS, but it’s also a frickin’ documentary on poor development, a handbook in working your ass off to deliver the worst code possible.

To release something like MOSS in these days and age, and, no less, target it to multi-billion dollar companies, is such a joke. Why wouldn’t a large, usually international, company care about quality? They really should rename it to MOCKERY instead.

The developers who built this shouldn’t have to fix it or get a scolding. They should be without jobs.

11 Comments

  • bruce says:

    You've read the accessify forum thread about accessibility in Sharepoint, haven't you Robert?

    http://www.accessifyforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=729

    (Your music taste is still crap, by the way.)

  • I think that it is very important to point out the differeces between the collaboration and content managament portions of SharePoint. The collaboration features are meant to be used on intranets where the user group as well as the supported browsers are described in the requirements. And while standard are still very important, in my opinion such envrionments are way less restrictive than public sites on the Internet. That brings us to the second point: accessibility in SharePoint. SharePoint 2007 is built upon ASP.NET 2.0. That's why includes all the poor and good of that platform. Unfortunately the idea of environment and functionality enrichment didn't do any good to the output HTML. Still, don't forget to mention it, SharePoint 2007 is very very flexible. I have succeeded delivering a XHTML 1.0 Strict website fully working website built upon SharePoint. The same website has passed the accessibility check as defined by the Dutch government which could be compared to WCAG 1.0 Priority 2+.

    Standard SharePoint is not accessible. But SharePoint is not a turn-key product – it is a development platform and it is possible to built accessible websites upon it.

  • Waldek: With all due respect: Making a public facing website that validates means handrolling the interface yourself. You can't hardly use any of the built-in components, you can't use any of the built-in masterpages. Of course you can hand-roll an entire website and make it accessible, but then again, why then would you need MOSS?

    And as you said, this only applies to public "publishing sites", not sites users can contribute to, then you are stuck with the defaults. I'm building a highly collaborative intranet…

  • Jens Wedin says:

    <blockquote cite="Waldek Mastykarz ">And while standard are still very important, in my opinion such envrionments are way less restrictive than public sites on the Internet.

    Why are internal environments less important when it comes to standards and accessibility? There are still about 10% of users that have some kind of disabilities.

    And why should companies and others who buys MOSS have to spend extra dollars or time to make it validate and accessible? Why couldn't MS just make it work out of the box when it possible?

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for your input!

    bruce,

    Great, thanks for the link (goes to put on some heavy metal… ;-)).

    Waldek,

    I get what you're saying, but I think Emil and Jens make very good points. If you want collaboration, or just a public web site, why accept something which has to be rewritten in a major way?

    Isn't the whole point of frameworks to make things easier, more flexible and decreasing development time?

  • Jens beat me to it ..

    I've never understood the argument that internal facing websites and applications would not need to validate or be compatible with anything other than the currently installed browser…. It would seem even more important to me that, such sites would be compatible, accessible, etc, since their lifespan usually is soo much longer than that of their public facing brethren.

    It baffles me that after so many years of the web standards movement, that large companies like Computer Associates, Microsoft, IBM, Sun, etc. are still putting out such shitty products. The only reason they can sell these products, is that people buying them have little technical knowledge (or have limited access to good advisors), and that the people selling them to clients, apparently care more about immediate business and not so much about repeat business.

    This might work for awhile, until the client gets an advisor that can show far better success with competing products and vendors.

    At a client I am currently working with, I see Subversion moving in the shadows, threatening CA Harvest as source control platform for the entire enterprise. The company has spent 3 years integrating CA Harvest, and it's still a ball and chain, and hated by most of the developers in the entire organisation. One project has gone rogue, and are using SVN … they're enjoying tremendous success, and upper management have taken notice… so, it'll be interesting to watch that battle.

    For those that offer services and products to clients, let me offer these thoughts:

    When you offer services and products that stimulate your clients business and help them solve their problems, your clients will recognize this, and they do come back for more.

    When you offer substandard products and services to your clients, you can bet your grandmother that, your client will be looking at all available options, before going into a longterm commitment with substandard products and your services again.

    In these situation, the only way to guarantee repeat business, is to force the clients by having vendor lock-in. Unless you're actually Computer Associates, Microsoft, IBM, etc., this doesn't apply to you.

    If you offer services based on these products, your client might think that the reason that their intranet/portal/website/whatever is such crap, is because you're crap.

    So, to summarize … if you sell your client a substandard products, you're going to be working your ass off, trying to make the product suck less, to ensure repeat business … on every project, for every client.

    It is indeed a mockery …

  • Emil: I admit, you are right: making a SharePoint-based web site accessible means rewriting/overwriting plenty of interface pieces. On the public sites it doesn't matter that much: you don't use the standard branding anyway. However if you want to use a collaboration environment, you are very likely to use more of the standard available components which are not even close to being accessible.

    I think that you see the power of SharePoint in integration: if you're up to using only the public sites or only the basic collaboration features choose something else and keep the change. As soon you look for a product which is able to support enterprise in various aspects like forms, workflows, security, collecting data from 3rd party applications, aggregating all these data and publishing them through various channels I definitely wouldn't say that SharePoint isn't the product you're looking for just because its standard interface is not accessible. Because SharePoint is very flexible you are able to create your own interface – more simplified and accessible if you want to.

    What I'm trying to say is that SharePoint isn't good or bad. It all depends on your business case and the requirements and as an expert you should do an educated choice whether it suits your requirements or not.

  • @Waldek:

    It all depends on your business case and the requirements and as an expert you should do an educated choice whether it suits your requirements or not.

    Unfortunately the choice has almost always already been made and is irreversible once anyone with the slightest knowledge of front-end issues like web standards and accessibility is involved.

  • […] Posted May 1, 2008 Found this article from a Microsoft SharePoint hater.   Not really saying anything intelligent, or […]

  • Damien Hall says:

    I couldn't agree more – sharepoint is some of the worst software I've ever worked with. It manages to automatically break almost everything I throw at it, isn't even remotely cross browser compatible – actually it manages to take fully standards compliant cross-browser templates and break them beyond recognition even in IE.

    For an internal site using MS defaults it might be ok, but I have been tasked with producing a custom forward-facing website, which someone higher up was told was easy with Publishing sites. I'm stuck with either some really nasty css hacking to make their tables-everything work – which I'm starting to think isn't even going to be possible, or rewriting everything down to the basic menu components myself. This is miles behind even the most basic CMS.

    Unfortunately we've already paid the incredible licensing fees so I'm stuck trying to make pile of s*it work, while full well knowing I could have had something that works better in half the time on a free product. I take some pride in the css/html/general code I produce so the ugly output I'm being forced to settle with is just breaking my heart.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Damien,

    I'm really sorry to hear about that. Good luck!

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