Last year, my SharePoint 2010 end-user book came out: How to Do Everything: Microsoft SharePoint 2010. To keep the momentum going, I’ve decided to write some short supplements. My goal is to add in things that I either didn’t have the time or the pages to do it in the printed book. After all, the express goal of the book was to not overwhelm end-users with too much information—as used to be common in the SharePoint world. The added topics might include background information, more examples, or maybe just colourful anecdotes about working on the Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS) and SharePoint teams at Microsoft. I’ll try and follow the chapter order, but if something compelling comes along that’s out of order, I won’t hold back the content just to keep the posts in sequence.
The first chapter of the book is an introduction to SharePoint and a history of the evolution of the platform (written by former Director of Marketing for SharePoint, Arpan Shah). It’s also one of my versions of answering the question, “what’s SharePoint?”—although you don’t hear that so much anymore. In this first supplement, I’ve decided to add a history of MCMS and talk about how publishing features from MCMS were added to SharePoint.
First off, if you look to the right-hand side of this page, you’ll see a logo that looks like the one below. (My apologies to those of you in the future who are reading this after I’ve changed my blog template or migrated to some sort of solar-powered blogging platform.) This logo was created for NCompass Resolution 3.0 and also used for v. 3.1—the last major release before Resolution became MCMS.
Prior to the Microsoft acquisition, NCompass Labs was a small company based in Vancouver, Canada. We worked in an old Hudson’s Bay Company fur warehouse in Gastown; it was the classic '”bricks and sticks” style that was popular during the .com boom. The office was on Water St. (so near the famous steam-powered clock that we could hear it form our desks) and boasted a view of the mountains and Burrard Inlet. I spent most of my time there facing Water St., but for a short time, I did enjoy that mountain view.
After Microsoft acquired NCompass Labs, Resolution 3.1 became MCMS 2001. The .NET initiative was on every dev manager’s mind at Microsoft and MCMS 2002 was released to add support for .NET. One of my tasks with the MCMS team was to port the Woodgrove Bank sample site to Woodgrove.NET. As you may have guessed, SharePoint 2003 was released the next year.
I’ve heard some revisionist history accounts of what happened during this period. So here’s my take. Since SharePoint and MCMS were both used to create websites, people often chose to do this using the erroneous distinction that SharePoint was for internal sites and MCMS was for public facing sites. In truth, SharePoint was focused on team collaboration and the fact that it wasn’t being used for public facing sites had a lot to do with the licensing model. MCMS could be used for any website but it didn’t ship with templates out of the box the way SharePoint did. However, MCMS was built from day one with public facing sites in mind and later versions had been tuned extensively for optimal performance on heavily trafficked sites.
- In honour of it’s Canadian roots, the MCMS box and screens featured images of the Vancouver library.
The two products weren’t even in the same business unit. SharePoint was in the Office Server Group and MCMS was in the now defunct E-Business servers group that was working on an e-business suite codenamed “Jupiter.” Jupiter was meant to include BizTalk, Host Integration Server, Commerce Server and MCMS. However, as time went on Jupiter remained a far-out idea and the confusion around which Microsoft product customers should use for building their site still remained. Microsoft knew that a change was in order. The resolution (pardon the pun) came when MCMS was retired and the MCMS team was folded in the Office Server Group. We were quickly set out to add more publishing features to SharePoint. Before I left Microsoft, I was working on SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) navigation, but I moved back to Canada before the release.
SharePoint today is a popular and rich platform for building websites. If someone asks, “what’s SharePoint?” feel free to use that line.