Yesterday, I saw a tweet from Joel Ward which immediately got my attention:
Joel and I went back and forth on Twitter for a while. The gist of the conversation was: What is the best game in town for tools and tricks for end users (Obvious answer: EndUserSharePoint.com) and would a repository of the useful code there and in other places have value? Then we turned to email.
…the thought related to the discussion that Ed, Bethany and I are doing for SPSDC. We get asked to implement lots of neat functionality for clients, and sometimes people want to do things themselves. But it’s hard to point non-technical or semi-technical people to a place where they can get solutions for non-programmers. EUSP is the best out there, but it’s not exactly what we were thinking.
Just a thought. What do you think?
and my reply:
I do think it is a good idea. You probably could see my ears perk up when you tweeted.
I think it would be an awesome thing to build, but it’s probably a non-trivial idea for a few reasons:
- Some of the types of code can be encapsulated, some really can’t (workflows being a prime example)
- Some of the things which are really helpful are full solutions (they work as is) and others necessarily need to be adapted to work
- There would need to be a damn good taxonomy around the pieces to allow people to find the right one for the task at hand. Knowing which solution is the right one, having enough context to decide, is why some of us have jobs. Even if we can hand people the exact right piece through some magical search mechanism, we have to show them how to use it, and maybe even help them.
- No one wants to pay for this stuff and very few even want to contribute. They are a fickle bunch of consumers.
I’m not trying to pooh-pooh at all. I would love to work on this. I’ve already started a new Codeplex project at http://spxslt.codeplex.com/ where I’d like to house useful XSL templates. My struggle with really getting it going: much of the same stuff as above, and it’s a subset (and probably a small subset) of the things that are available and useful to power users (or whatever we want to call them). That and the fact that, even though I’ve had over 350 visits and over 1100 page views, I’ve really gotten *very* little input on how to make this darn thing useful for folks. I can guess, but I’d rather try to get at least some things right up front.
Since you’re in consulting, you know that all of us consultants carry around a toolbox in our back pocket full of this stuff, whether from prior projects or just from our hunter/gathering. It’s part of our own intrinsic knowledge management efforts, and it’s how we make it in the consulting jungle.
My belief is that it is better to give the tools away because then people see what value you have and want to enlist your help. I know that not everyone feels that way, and the folks who don’t will continue to live in their walled gardens as long as someone is throwing food over once in a while. I absolutely know that the SharePoint community is a game changer. This is a community that acts like an open source one, yet we all have clearly stated that we are in this to make a living somehow. We can’t lose when we try to offer our stuff for free, and in most cases, people are encouraging when we offer the same things at a reasonable fee.
All this said, yes, let’s figure out if we can come up with a way to build something like this and all come out winners in the end.
I think this is turning into a blog post!