We've got to come up with a better way to catalog Web Parts -- any ideas?

I get asked “how many Web Parts exist” all the time.  The question drives me crazy. I understand why.  Portal vendors cite the list of available portlets they have on hand as strategic selling points.  They want to cite the equivalent number for SPS.

But the question is harder to answer than it seems.  As I pointed out earlier today in Web Parts ⊃ Portlets (that’s the superset symbol, by the way),  Web Parts aren’t just portlets.  In addition to that:

  • We focused on helping you develop Web Parts, not on helping you buy Web Parts from us.
  • Microsoft doesn’t maintain a massive service organization that pumps the deliverables from customer engagements right back into the sales channel.
  • We make no attempt to channel or corral the the development community so that customers wanting Web Parts have to go through Microsoft to get them.
  • Some of our biggest Web Part partners sell environments for generating Web Parts, not individual Web Parts themselves.  DSP’s tools have been used to generate thousands of individual business intelligence-focused Web Parts.  FirstRain has tools for producing many, many different kinds of specific Web Parts.  And there are many other good partners that do the same thing.  And when you factor in FrontPage DataViews, the number goes through the roof.

We know that there are as many, probably more, Web Parts than there are portlets for any other portal vendor, but we need to be able to prove it.  We need a way to list every Web Part in existence.  I am very, very open to suggestions.  I’ll tell you what’s been tried that hasn’t really worked to date:

  • We maintain a Web Component Directory at http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/downloads/components.  It was intended to provide a Yellow Pages environment for administrators and power users.  It includes Web Parts, but it includes other things as well.  The unit of enumeration is companies’ solutions, not individual Web Parts.  We’ve supplemented it with a list of all known Web Parts that are in the box when you get several MS products, but that kind of confuses matters.
  • There are developer-to-developer Web Part projects or samples on http://www.gotdotnet.com and other sites, but there’s no attempt to provide a comprehensive list.
  • There are some third-party for-profit sites like http://www.gotsharepoint.com and http://www.msd2d.com that offer catalogs of Web Parts, but there’s no attempt to provide a comprehensive list, either.

So let me ask you:

  • Is there a community site out there that tries to do this already about which I might not know?
  • If we went about changing either the Web Component Directory or our GotDotNet presence, or created a brand new site devoted to the purpose, would you list every Web Part you’ve written there (the name of the Web Part and either a URL or an email address would be all you’d need to provide)?
  • Would you be willing to host such a list?

Let me know… I’m tired of answering that question with an explanation instead of a number.  I want to wipe the smirks off our competitors’ sales and marketing people.  Please help me do that.