In Outlook 2010, integration lets users receive e-mail alerts whenever content is created or updated - and eliminates going into SharePoint to see the changes. Outlook, additionally, connects to My Sites and displays updates from external sites, including Facebook.
Perhaps one of the best examples of integration, however, is that between InfoPath 2010 and SharePoint. In this scenario, I first created a typical SharePoint tabular list of people and their contact information. Next, from the SharePoint Ribbon, I opened the list in InfoPath, where I created a visually appealing data entry form. Users could then easily update the SharePoint data from InfoPath (or use the InfoPath form within SharePoint). Besides better usability, I took advantage of InfoPath's advanced data entry functions, including data validation, which isn't available in SharePoint.
I took a deeper look at Excel Services, which lets visitors to a SharePoint site view - and interact with - a subset of data in your spreadsheets. I easily protected formulas in the Web-rendered version along with hiding the detailed data behind charts. Conversely, users could sort, filter, and work with other information in PivotTables.
Visio 2010, Microsoft's charting and diagramming application, isn't part of the standard Office 2010 product. Still, for organizations that separately license Visio, Visio Services gives you an easy way to render diagrams within a browser. Where this gets interesting is that spreadsheets, SQL databases and SharePoint lists can be used as data sources for Visio 2010. Potentially, you could create dynamic mash-ups and present them as part of an executive dashboard page.
What it all means
With SharePoint 2010, the end-user experience is much better because the interface is closely related to Office apps. Furthermore, many tasks that previously required IT assistance - and a long time - are now quickly accomplished by business users.
In this version, Microsoft appears to have really listened to customer requests, and included their suggestions. Therefore, it's a highly recommend upgrade or choice for new installations.
Heck manages portals for a large pharma company and writes about enterprise applications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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