Evaluating the best way to solve a business problem can be a daunting project that requires you to do online research, seek recommendations from trusted experts and peers, and consider whether a homegrown approach is better than a purchased tool. Let me try to save you a little effort and give you a head start on assessing solutions for creating custom SharePoint apps.
Let's look at the problem space and how Dell Software Quick Apps for SharePoint addresses it. And then let's see what customers and reviewers in the community are saying. Most important: If you've used this product, please share your experiences with the community by sending me your review ([email protected]) or by using the comments fields below.
Developing custom applications for SharePoint is time consuming and requires expertise that many companies don’t have.
Hire expert developers to create, support, and maintain customizations; or find a product that both power users and expert developers can successfully use.
Software Quick Apps for SharePoint
"With [Dell] Quick Apps for SharePoint (formerly Web Parts for SharePoint), you can unleash SharePoint’s full potential – without relying on expensive development resources for every customization. Quick Apps enables you to build applications that can be easily supported, maintained and upgraded to ensure their long-term impact and return on investment. Because Quick Apps automates simple or mundane tasks, you can free up SharePoint development resources and satisfy business requirements without costly custom coding."
What you need to know
In a recent survey by Dimensional Research, 205 individuals were asked if they had dedicated SharePoint developers. The results were not surprising: Only 27 percent have full-time SharePoint developers, 35 percent have part-time SharePoint developers, and 38 percent have no SharePoint developers.
These findings were cited by Doug Davis, a Dell Software product director for Unified Communications and Collaboration, when I recently met with him and the Dell Software team.
Underscoring the negative impact of the lack of dedicated developer resources, the survey showed overwhelming need for SharePoint customization in the areas shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Most-requested customization areas
Not surprisingly, Doug went on to explain that this lack of dedicated resources means that when business users request customization, they generally have to wait. The Dimensional Research survey findings showed that only 12 percent of respondents got quick delivery of all their requests, and only 22 percent said that “most requests are delivered quickly.” That means two-thirds of requests are not being delivered in a timely fashion.
And delivery is not the only problem. Once you have customized SharePoint solutions and you need to upgrade to a newer version of SharePoint, you face the not-insignificant challenge of porting those customizations.
To address these business concerns, Dell Software offers Quick Apps for SharePoint, a bundle of 22 web parts that give power users and developers a head start at addressing the customization needs that the Dimensional Research survey identified. The Quick Apps web parts align directly with the list shown in Figure 1.
The best way to evaluate a solution is to try it out. But before downloading a trial, it's helpful to know what customers think. Dell provides customer references to help anyone who is considering Quick Apps for SharePoint. You can find customer
testimonials and check the Customer Reference Gallery.
Here are a couple of examples: One customer case study focuses on Multicare. Luis Neves, a software analyst and programmer for the company, states, “It took 10 man-days to develop a menu system consisting of about 10 screens. It would have taken up to 30 man-days without Quick Apps for SharePoint. Development was fast with the Dell Solution.”
Another customer case study on Golder Associates, states that Quick Apps for SharePoint “enabled 7,000 users to create custom sites and applications, without assistance.” This case study attests to Dell's assertion that Quick Apps for SharePoint can easily be used by power users who do not have formal developer skills.
Community product reviews
In addition to the references and materials that Dell provides, the SharePoint community has reviewed the product. Below are summaries of some product reviews and links to the full content of these reviews.
Data More Efficiently with Dell Apps for SharePoint,” by Didier Danse
All these features are really useful, but developers have to be aware that they will have to develop a bit differently. If you are looking for components for a future implementation, do not hesitate. For an existing SharePoint platform, take your time to be sure that you will not have technical issues (List Form behavior has an impact in event handlers implementation, for example).
Because of per web-front-end server licensing mode, global cost can increase rapidly. You can decrease cost by adequate infrastructure architecture and use these web parts only if required.
Last but not least, support team is quick and sends feedback about any issues every time, responds to question or suggestion you send. A new version is released approximately 3 times per year.
SharePoint development with Quick Apps for SharePoint," by Scott Robinson.
Apps for SharePoint (formerly Web Apps for SharePoint) reduces in-house application design burdens considerably. Placing code within Apps for SharePoint relieves the app designer from having to code from scratch workflows, metadata access and usage. A custom app can access the existing SharePoint code for that functionality without extra effort. As a result, for example, any app that requires workflow (routing of messages generated by the app to and from Exchange) can be developed much faster. SharePoint handles the user interface (UI), data layer, security and administration of the app. The only piece to worry about is truly custom code.…
All in all, it's a mixed bag, but the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. SharePoint Online has come of age. And while you can't go quite as far in custom apps in a cloud deployment as you can on-premises, you can still go a long way.
Best Apps for Microsoft SharePoint," by Lera Blog
This application is created by Dell and is available to download directly from their website. It is a great app for smaller businesses because it allows quick and easy customization of SharePoint, without the need for large IT departments. It is also quicker and faster than making custom code changes.
Making the call
This article is meant to give you a place to begin your evaluation. If you want more information on web parts and SharePoint customization, take a look at the related articles accompanying this article and check out our discussion groups. And be sure to ask our experts for their thoughts.