I am starting 2014 with a new channel to distribute my SharePoint solutions.
Since 2011, I have been working on my SPELL program to address some shortcomings of the solutions published in the SharePoint User Toolkit. I made a number of choices that shaped the future of SPELL:
- A single framework with interconnected modules, rather than independent code snippets.
- Dual presentation, inline code for developers vs. “no code” for end users (encouraging the use of the Page Viewer Web Part, more solid and reliable across SharePoint versions than other content/script Web Parts).
- Move away from the free model, to adopt a freemium approach with gratis (no cost) and full version.
Because the setup forms are now included in SPELL, the delivery method has switched from an online configuration tool to more standard file downloads. The natural move for me was to make the files available in a public SharePoint library, but several users got stuck because of the counterintuitive behavior. As an anonymous user, you have to use a right click, not a regular click, to access a file. The file extension might also change in the download process (for example from .aspx to .htm).
As a quick workaround, I started sending files by e-mail (!). Of course I got bitten by corporate filters that blocked e-mails because they contained code, or just delivered the e-mail without the attachment…
So I finally decided to use myself the solution I had been promoting among my SharePoint customers in the past 12 months. Ever since the new version of Office 365 came out, I have been praising its fantastic ability to go across company barriers and allow extended enterprise collaboration. I just worked on such a project last week! Office 365 ‘s sharing options make it an easy and cost effective solution. For some of my customers, this is actually the number 1 reason for migrating to Office 365.
If you are interested in the gratis version of the SPELL Tabs 1.1, go ahead and fill out the contact form with your company information (granted, at this point contact forms are not Office 365’s most powerful or user friendly feature). SharePoint will store this information in a list (restricted access), and notify me. I’ll then send you a “shared link” to access the package.
Distributing files is just the first step. I expect to move further later this year, and open other areas of the site to my customers and partners, for example for online support, discussions, or to vote on enhancement requests.
If you’d like to experiment with Office 365 ‘s external sharing abilities yourself, you are welcome to contact me for a free 30 day trial. Even if your company is already using SharePoint internally, you might be interested in a separate instance of Office 365 for projects that involve external partners!