I Hate SharePoint Apps like I Hate Mark Zuckerberg

This blog post has been tumbling in my head since I began working on SharePoint 2013 Apps.  This is probably the third time, at least, I have tried to express my thoughts on the development shifts in SharePoint from 2007 & 2010 to 2013.

Beware some things in this post may be offensive to people, especially Mark Zuckerberg, but I wanted to bring a little humor into the geek speak.

Do I Really Hate SharePoint Apps?

I think hating SharePoint Apps is like hating someone like Mark Zuckerberg for creating Facebook.  I don’t hate him for creating Facebook and making billions, I hate that I didn’t think of creating Facebook first.  I could have created a web site where we share things that should be kept to ourselves.

“… I meet this chick at the bar and we hooked up and now my _____ is all swollen and it burns when I …”,

WOW, I really didn’t need to know that, but oh great you also included a picture!  Because that image won’t be permanently burned into my memory from here until the end of time, THANKS Friend! And now to perform a lobotomy on myself.

Or where adults can act like immature teenagers by unfriending each other (please read with ditsy Valley Girl ‘accent’)

“Suzie unfriended you because your friends with Katie who just started dating Charlie even though she knew that Suzie liked Charlie and wanted to go out with him.”

Yeah, next time you read your Facebook feed I dare you not to think of this post!

But alas, Mark beat me to it.

So no, I don’t hate SharePoint Apps, but there are parts of them I haven’t fallen in love with, or even understand why they work this way instead of that.

Augmenting SharePoint or Bolting On

I was talking with a coworker recently and described my past, and current, experience with SharePoint and described it as “Augmenting SharePoint” either to improve the user experience (custom content types and lists to allow users to collect information consistently), build automation capabilities/processes (workflows that would handle publishing and retiring of content), or use data from other systems to enhance information in SharePoint (KPIs from Project Server along with Task Lists in SharePoint).

As my coworker pointed out, Apps are much less of the augmentation and much more of a bolt on.  Sure, you can borrow some of what SharePoint has in Apps, but your App isn’t going to be used in the same context and location that user created a document library or enabled/disabled features.  Our Apps are isolated, associated with SharePoint, but they aren’t SharePoint just like a Zynga game (or whoever makes your favorite Facebook game) isn’t Facebook and doesn’t change Facebook.

Change of Perspective

When I approached SharePoint Apps with the mindset that I was going to augment what SharePoint gave the user, I found nothing but frustration.  I would think first about what SharePoint could provide: lists for storing data, user security, etc. but I would quickly realize my App expected too much and that there was too little focus on my application.

I have now tried to spin that perspective 180 degrees, thinking first about what I want to build, maybe it as better calendar, and what it should do even without SharePoint.  Then after I knew what my App should do and how I was going to make it work I would think if there was anything I needed from SharePoint.

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