One of my favorite design stories around MOSS was the ability to use the OOB experience to fundamentally enhance a given business process. In fact, in the seven years I’ve been doing MOSS, I have only found a SINGLE business process that didn’t lend itself almost perfectly to improvements in MOSS. That’s a long, painful story I’d rather not get into right now – haha. Meanwhile, SharePoint 2010 takes the story of composites a step further and now makes the concept truly a first class citizen – it’s even in the Wheel of Love:
Composites are loosely defined but incredibly powerful. Take a specific business scenario – anything. How about a customer tracking system that is built in SQL server and you need that data to be rapidly reported on and expanded into the SharePoint world. With the Business Connectivity Services (formerly the BDC), you can uplift those data with complete CRUD scenarios directly into MOSS and it is a first class citizen along with other, possibly related data – like documents and forms that are related to your customers. The BCS is what makes this possible and it is just one prime example of a composite application. Another great concept of a composite is the ability to make great, professional and secure applications without writing any code at all. By leveraging the different components (including BCS) using their OOB capabilities, there is very little that cannot be done. Now, will you sacrifice some of your design requirements? Of course – otherwise, you’d just write the application from scratch. Where composites come in is when you have a rapid application need that integrates with your existing investment in SharePoint and takes advantage of the great features like the security framework in MOSS.
For a great primer on Composites – check out the Microsoft SharePoint Composites site here. Another great read is a recent presentation by Krik Evans who recently presented at Dallas TechFest. His blog article on his presentation (including the deck) can be found here. One of the really neat features in his presentation is working with External Lists and Silverlight – good stuff!
So – if you haven’t started your reading on SharePoint 2010 – well, get with it – it is a massive upgrade and a fantastic product. More SP2010 coming soon!