I'll be posting all week about Mindsharp's SharePoint 2010 Power End User Beta class, where I'm attending as an online participant. I also attended their SharePoint 2007 Power End User class back in March. Though I considered myself an "informed" SharePoint 2007 end user when I started, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned – and I referred to the course book just last week. Since I know a lot less about SharePoint 2010, I'm pretty excited to see the new material.
Caffeinated and prepared (thanks to the requirements checklist e-mailed to me in advance), I joined the Live Meeting for remote students bright and early at 9AM. I really like that Mindsharp starts 30 minutes early on the first day to get all the administrative and IT issues out of the way without burning valuable class time. After working through the usual login issues, it was introductions all around.
Our instructor is Kay McClure, the Product Manager for End User Products at Mindsharp. I feel like I'm in good hands: Kay's been with Mindsharp teaching SharePoint for 5 years, and wrote a good portion of the 2007 and 2010 SharePoint Power End User course manuals. She said she does primarily private training classes, but she's put on her public training hat for this beta class.
The class is small (just 5 students), and this is only the 2nd run of this course material. I'm sure we'll see a few hiccups with labs and virtual machine setups, but that's to be expected in a class with "beta" in the name – I was duly warned!
We began with a (very) basic overview of SharePoint Server architecture, suitable for end users. For those looking for more detail, Mindsharp offers other classes tailored for administrators. The class uses SharePoint Server, so SharePoint Foundation users should pay attention to the course manual's comparison of the two feature sets.
Continuing on, it's time to look at basic navigation. Anyone who's even glanced at SharePoint 2010 knows there's been a major revamp, so this is definitely a topic to pay attention to – no multi-tasking! Even Kay said she's not convinced she's "in love" with the ribbon yet, a sentiment I share completely. From a technical writer's perspective, it was nice to establish some baseline terminology. For example, did you know that the little folder icon with the arrow is called Navigate Up?
After a short break (during which on-site support apparently fixed some VM performance issues, since things suddenly got much faster), we're on to Search. There was a lot more content in the course manual than was demonstrated in class, but the first lab gave me ample time to go and do some catch-up reading. Lots of great improvements here over 2007! Kay dropped some teasers about Tags and I Like It affecting search results, but unless I read ahead, I'll have to wait until Friday to learn more.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Lists
Break time, and then we started in on Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Lists (actually, "List Basics"). The focus was on the more commonly-used list features, many of which existed in 2007 but have moved (curse you, Office Ribbon!). There appears to be some very cool Office and Microsoft product integration (check out the Show Task Pane option in Datasheet View), but it was hard to cover everything. I noticed a section called Microsoft Office Integration in the Table of Contents, so I'm hoping there's more about this coming soon. I did learn that you can manage alerts and tasks in Outlook, which apparently you can also do in SharePoint 2007 – who knew? It was also nice to see alert options have definitely improved.
Time for lunch – and since I'm an hour ahead of the classroom, I'm HUNGRY!
Check It Out!
Fed and rested, we return from lunch and talk briefly about sending e-mail to lists & libraries. There was some good discussion about why this is useful, and I plan to experiment more with this feature on my own. A quick lab to cement some of the basic list operations, and then we move on to Libraries.
I think anyone who's used SharePoint at all is familiar with the basic operation of document libraries, but there's still a lot to cover. That Office Ribbon sure is packed with stuff! New for SharePoint 2010 is the concept of Document Sets, which seem to be a weird combination of a content type, a folder, and a mini-document library. If Microsoft is trying to break us of the folders habit, there's some more socializing to do…no matter how often we're told "folders are bad!" (a direct quote from Kay).
One final break, and then we wrap up this busy first day with document check-in/check-out and the basics of versioning and approval. Since this can be a confusing topic for end users, we spent a lot of time exploring the different ways these features can be used. Kay emphasized how important "Planning, Training, Support, and Marketing" is for a new SharePoint environment to make sure features like these are implemented successfully.
Overall, I'm impressed with the first day. For only the 2nd run, there's a minimum of issues. I also like Kay's teaching style – she's not just reading the course manual to you, and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to have some self-imposed homework to go back and review the manual for additional information. Kind of makes you feel you're getting your money's worth.
My favorite topic today: basic navigation. This is the biggest change, and probably the thing power users will benefit from the most if they are taking this as a "technology update" class. There are some great new features, but you're not going to get much use of them if you can't get around.
What is your favorite SharePoint 2010 feature? Post in the Comments below.
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