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I’d heard the rumors, but now it’s apparently true: My favorite Microsoft development tool is now free. This seems like a shift in strategy for Microsoft, but they try to explain their reasoning in a Letter to SharePoint Designer Customers.
If you follow my blog at all, you know that I think you can do a heck of a lot with SharePoint Designer, and that it’s a good thing. (See my diatribe entitled SharePoint Designer: Useful Tool or Spawn of the Devil?) Opening SharePoint Designer up to all takers has got to have a lot of SharePoint administrators quaking in their boots, though. Many governance policies will have to be rewritten as well.
Let me stress what may have been the most important point I made in my Tool/Devil post above:
Keep in mind that in SharePoint, EVERYTHING — let me repeat — EVERYTHING is security trimmed. If you don’t have permission to access something through the UI, you won’t be able to access it through SharePoint Designer, either.
If you’ve been sloppy with permissions, then you may have some issues with folks using SharePoint Designer when you weren’t expecting it.
I’d recommend, though, that instead of panicking about this shift, you should think about what great capabilities it will put into the hands of your user base. Power to the people doesn’t have to be a scary thing.