A Beginner’s Guide to SharePoint Vocabulary: Part 1

This morning I installed a Bamboo product on my virtual server so that I could test it and begin writing the documentation for it. This afternoon I spent an hour or so troubleshooting various issues while trying to deploy the product before I realized that I had installed the product on my Central Administration server, not my SharePoint server.

So yeah, I'm a SharePoint beginner.

When I'm learning something new, what helps me the most is understanding the language and terms used in my new environment. My first week on the job here at Bamboo, I heard a variety of terms that meant nothing to me: deploy, farm, MOSS 2007, site collection and so on.

I spent some time Googling these terms to figure out what they meant. There are tons of great resources available online for anything and everything SharePoint–including Bamboo Nation, of course–but I kept running into the same problem: many of the definitions were still above my experience level. Here's an example:

Assembly: a partially compiled code library used in deployment, versioning and security within the .NET framework

Uh, what? What's a code library? What is versioning? What's a .NET framework?

So I went to the bookstore and bought some books on SharePoint, including that scarlet letter, Microsoft SharePoint 2007 for Dummies, and spent some time creating my own, very-beginner-level definitions to some common SharePoint terms or, in some cases, terms that I had to look up while I was trying to define other terms.

I hope these come in handy for the other newbies out there. There are many terms left to be explained, so keep checking the blog for another blog post from me. And if I got something wrong, please let me know. I'll be reinstalling that product on the correct server in the meantime, so just give a yell.

APIs, or Application programming interfaces: APIs are what let you do everything that you can do in the SharePoint user interface, like creating new sites or workspaces, uploading photos or documents, and creating tasks and alerts.

ASP.NET: Microsoft's platform for building Web applications. It's used to customize SharePoint.

Child: This term helps show hierarchy within SharePoint, specifically within sites. A child site is a subsite of the top-level, or parent, site.

Farm, or server farm: A group of servers that share the same administrative tools and are part of the same organization or group.

IIS, or Internet Information Services: The Web server that Microsoft uses to host SharePoint. It runs on Windows Server 2003.
Edited to add: IIS doesn't necessarily run on Windows Server 2003. There are different versions of IIS depending on the operating system you have, such as Windows XP or Windows 2008. So for example, IIS 7.0 runs on Windows Server 2008, and IIS 6.0 runs on Windows 2003.

Library: Sites have libraries, which store data. The most common library in SharePoint is the document library, but you can use libraries to store any kind of files or data.

List: A table of data that is stored in a site. Lists help provide data like tasks, discussions and links.

.NET Framework: Versions 2 and 3 of this set of software installs ASP.NET and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).

Parent: This term helps show hierarchy within SharePoint, specifically within sites. A parent site is the top-level site; it can have one or several children, or subsites.

Site: In SharePoint, sites are the building blocks, where users can share data in lists and libraries or view and edit Web Part pages. They're created for a specific purpose, so for example, a company may create an HR site, an Accounting site and a Project Management site.

Site Collection: A site collection is a group of sites that are related. These sites have the same owner and administration settings. Site collections have a hierarchy; there's always at least one top-level site in a site collection, with subsites underneath. Every Web application contains at least one site collection.

SQL Server 2000 (or later): Microsoft's database management system.

User Interface: The part of SharePoint that you see and interact with. (It's what appears on your monitor screen.)

Web applications: They provide services, as opposed to Web sites, which typically just display information. Web applications are Web sites that run on IIS. They help create a company's information environment. They are hosted on the Web server.

Windows Server 2003 (or later): Microsoft's server operating system.


Read the entire Beginner’s Guide to SharePoint Vocabulary series:

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