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The SharePoint Hillbilly Fewer Big Words... More Pretty Pictures...

My First Blog? First Post? Really?


Yep… I’ve been learning about SharePoint development for over a year now and I figured it was time to stop sponging off the SharePoint community and give something back, especially if it can help any newbies out there avoid the same frustrations that I’ve encountered.  SharePoint is SUCH a beast and is so different than anything I’ve encountered before.  So, hopefully everyone can get something out of this.  I welcome any feedback or corrections.  I’m more than happy to look like an idiot if it helps someone out there learn something.   So!  Let’s begin…

Is SharePoint development really THAT different?

In a word…  Absolutely.  I have been writing code since I got my Comodore sx-64 back in 1983.  I would go through the code magazines and modify the programs to do what I wanted (I was 10 years old at the time).  My professional background is pretty extensive as well.  I’ve worked for start-ups, semiconductor companies, consulting firms, software companies, window manufacturers (the glass things that you look through, not the OS).  My technology resume is equally vast:


-         BIOS code

-         Windows Device Drivers

-         Windows NT Ring 0 (custom file system)

-         I designed and wrote the software for the prototype for

-         Windows Applications

-         Web Applications

-         I know Fortran 77, 8086 assembly, Visual Basic, Pascal, C, C++, ASP, .NET, C#, Java, Tcl/Tk (among others)

-         I designed and developed (as well as host on a computer at home) every aspect of  (I SO need to update the site, but someone please tell me where to find the time?)


This is not meant to sound like bragging and it’s not really that impressive, but I’m just trying to point out that I’ve been around the block with different technologies.  I have NEVER asked for training before. NEVER… until SharePoint.  THAT is how different SharePoint is for me.  Of course I also suffer from being a Jack-of-all-trades, with my breadth of knowledge it is difficult to have depth of knowledge in all aspects.


SharePoint and the 5 Stages of Death and Dying

One of the first things I discovered is that the stages of learning SharePoint mimic the 5 Stages of Death and Dying:


-         Denial – “They aren’t really going to make me learn this.  They’ll forget all about it in the next few months and move onto something new.”

-         Anger – “This is SO stupid! I can’t believe they are making me learn this! It’s impossible!”

-         Bargaining – “Okay.. How about this, I’ll do support 24/7 for the rest of my life, just don’t make me learn this!”

-         Depression – “It’s hopeless.  I’ll never learn this.  I wonder how much it would cost to rent Andrew Connell by the hour?”

-         Acceptance – “Well, it looks like I have no choice… maybe it won’t be that bad?  Hey! At least it will look good on my resume?”


There is actually life after the Acceptance stage though.  I still get frustrated often, but as I will keep saying, the online community is amazing and the most helpful people I’ve ever met.  It is true that misery loves company.

Okay, I’m going to bite the bullet and learn SharePoint development.  Now what?


Now that I have you totally depressed and at rock bottom, allow me to pick you up a little.  If you are just learning SharePoint development you have NO idea how lucky you are.  Even a year ago when I started learning the online resources and training were pretty pathetic and I was not connected to the online community at all.  So, to say I was frustrated and stressed and pretty much hating all things SharePoint is an understatement.


So, here is a quick list of things you MUST know to get you going on your way to becoming a master SharePoint developer:


-         Virtual Machines – All custom development for SharePoint MUST be done on a Windows Server machine that has SharePoint and Visual Studio installed.  I’m not making that up.  When I first heard this and told our infrastructure folks of this requirement they laughed at me, but it’s true.  In an effort to help with this Microsoft has created a time-bombed VHD that you can download along with Virtual PC.  Both of these are free and excellent help to get you started.  It is also recommended that you put your VHD on an external HDD.

o       Virtual PC –

o       VHD -

-         Free Online Training – There’s lots of online training out there.  Some of it free, some of it quite costly.  One of the newer offerings is a Ramp Up course from Microsoft:

-         BLOGS – BLOGS –BLOGS – Take advantage of the geniuses who have gone before us!  There are a ton of brilliant guys out there.  Here are a few of the ones I see mentioned most often:

o       Andrew Connell -

o       Eric Shupps –

o       Joel Oleson -

-         Twitter – Stop what you are doing right now and get yourself a twitter ( account and start following the SharePoint people ( )!  These guys are ready to help and always keep me updated with the latest SharePoint news.  Seriously, everyone I’m following rocks. 

-         CodePlexThere is a TON of good stuff at I’m sure I could post a whole blog about what you will find there… but hopefully someone else already has? I’m not QUITE that ambitious.

I could go on and on and on about all the online resources but this list should be more than an excellent start. 

So now what???

I really don’t know at this point.  I will definitely keep this blog updated with all the little quirks and idiosyncrasies I discover along the way.  Maybe I’ll even be able to teach the guru’s a thing or two.  When it comes down to it, if you want to learn SharePoint development it is going to take work, you are going to get frustrated, it won’t make sense and you are going to break things.  Accept it… embrace it… back up often.  Welcome to the stress filled world of SharePoint development.  It’s coming whether you like it or not, so ride the wave and enjoy it or go build iPhone apps.


Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2008 8:57 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????

# re: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????
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Glad you joined Geeks with Blogs man. Funniest post I've seen in a while. Everyone has something to contribute. I look forward to reading your blog in the future.
Left by MOSSLover on Dec 18, 2008 10:13 PM

# re: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????
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So I'm curious good chap, but what is your core clients like? Small? Big? Huge? Just curious as I've seen folks that are developing for smaller clients cut corners, whereas others working for larger clients which require greater scalability approach the same problems that exist a little differently. Just curious so as to be able to better gauge how to read your works :)

p.s. AC will negotiate rates if you're a Florida Gators fan :)
Left by Dan Usher on Dec 18, 2008 10:16 PM

# re: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????
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Great post. Welcome to the club
Left by rich finn on Dec 19, 2008 12:22 AM

# re: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????
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Hey Dan, I'm actually not a consultant right now. My company (7000+ employees, $3.3 billion a year) decided about a year ago that SharePoint was the future and that it was the direction our company was heading. We have been training and working on proof of concept applications for several months and we are currently in the process of setting up our SharePoint Farms for production. We are DEFINITELY concerned with scalability and doing things right the first time. We'll see how that goes! We better not cut any corners because I can't leave the project and move on to the next company. If it's not designed right up front it's going to haunt me for a LONG time. To your point, if anyone sees me doing something that is just bad practice, I hope they don't hesitate to correct me! Thanks for the comments guys!
Left by Mark on Dec 19, 2008 8:39 AM

# re: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????
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You forgot to add a stage, so your title should be this: "SharePoint and the 6 Stages of Death and Dying"

Right after Acceptance, you should have this:

Suicide Or Quit: The realization SharePoint sucks.
Left by Anonymous on Dec 19, 2008 2:48 PM

# re: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????
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I once had this same experience with SAP R3 and ABAP/4 programming. I am too old now to survive it again. How many lobes of your brain can you donate to the corporate lobotomist anyway?
Left by Old School on Aug 14, 2009 8:11 AM

# re: So! You think you want to be a SharePoint Developer????
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I'm at the fifth stage but slipping back into the forth. My experience is similar to yours, lots of various programming, but no Sharepoint. I thought Sharepoint Developer would enable me to develop a reporting tool that would extract data from a source other than Sharepoint. But it's begining to look like I need to actually be logged onto the Sharepoint server to do anything other than HTML.

I tried the Microsoft VM solution but my laptop doesn't have IIS (one of the requirements that seems to be missing from the requirements list). I'm running XP Pro, but like most big IT departments, they stripped IIS out of it.

Any idea how to control a MS Virtual Server without IIS?
Left by DisplaceMaineac on Nov 02, 2009 4:51 PM

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