One more thing a good "SharePoint subject matter expert" ought to know...

I’d add one extra item to Tim Heuer’s fantastic article on what a good sharepoint subject matter expert ought to know...  Somewhere between “mid-level consultant” and “SharePoint Architect”, there needs to be an extra criterion that requires one to:

  • Stop, think and say/write what you really mean when you’re tempted to simply say “SharePoint”.

Seriously — there's no such thing as "SharePoint".  Ever.  Saying so creates the impression that there's only one such product (which isn't true), or that only WSS or SPS is the "real" "SharePoint" (which isn't true).  Don’t feel too bad, because even the development teams do this:  the WSS gang calls their handiwork “SharePoint” and our portal product “SPS” or “Portal Server”, whereas the SPS team calls their product “SharePoint” and our collaboration technology “WSS”.  They can’t both be right.

The word "SharePoint" is an adjective, never a noun.  It’s okay to say “SharePoint site”, “SharePoint list”, “SharePoint library”, “SharePoint Web Part”, “SharePoint area”, and so on.  If I’m writing, it takes fewer keystrokes to type WSS, SPS, or even WSS/SPS than it takes to type “SharePoint”.  If I’m speaking, I usually say “SharePoint Services” and “Portal Server”, or just WSS and SPS.  If I need to abbreviate “SharePoint Products and Technologies”, I usually say “SharePoint-land” or “SharePoint technology”.

When it comes to product value or solutions, we at Microsoft lump WSS and SPS together far less often these days.  SPS is a portal product, and as such it’s closest friend is really Content Management Server.  WSS’ out of the box value offers collaboration technology, and its closest friend is really Live Communications Server (as well as Groove in a very short while).  If you’re focused on customer solutions, you’re doing portal or collaboration work, not “SharePoint” work.

If you’re an expert in SharePoint Products and Technologies across the board, there’s no better way to demonstrate it than to truly say so.  And if you’re strictly talking technology, most of the time when you’re discussing platform issues (Web Parts, lists, site definitions), you’re probably really talking about WSS.  WSS is the platform.  SPS is a product built on that platform.  When you’re talking about things unique to SPS, it’s actually pretty important to say so.

My buddy Arpan Shah brought this up last October in his posting entitled “Using the word SharePoint” .  He also cited my tendency to serve as Microsoft’s angry name policeman.  But actually, any anger I have is really reserved for the too-clever-for-his-own-good-and-ours branding guy who made the final naming decisions for our 2003 releases.  He got us into this mess.  I’m lobbying him to get us out of it next time and remove the word “SharePoint” from “Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server”.  Our portal product wouldn’t lose any descriptive richness in the process.  That would let everyone mean one thing and one thing only when we informally say “SharePoint”.  It’s not my decision to make, but my fingers are crossed.