I have recently been working on a great project, crafting out a really challenging and interesting solution. Following the lead of Chris, who shared his cool project with us, I felt you might be interested in hearing about ours too.
Our client is a large multinational who has deployed MOSS 2007 and is constantly looking out for innovative ways to improve the way people communicate. One of the first opportunities they identified was the creation of a company wide blogging platform.
Projects don’t get much more fun than this!
One of the nice things about this project was that the requirements were fairly predictable. Blogging and Blog platforms have been maturing over the years, and there is a fairly predicable minimum set of features you need to have in place in order to be called a Blog Platform. SharePoint, out of the box, gives us a pretty good start, however it still falls some way short of ticking all of the boxes.
From the highest level there are two key components in the solution, lets explore each one individually.
This, of course, is where it all starts. It’s a place on the intranet people can visit to find out what is happening on the blogs. It needs to aggregate posts from across the company, providing a list of the most recent, or the most discussed, or the most viewed, posts. It needs to provide way to help you find blogs and blog posts you might be interested in, either by browsing or by search and most importantly, it needs to provide you with a way to create your own blog.
While SharePoint has many of the platform pieces in place, there is nothing “Out of the Box” that comes close to meeting these requirements. Things are made all the more challenging by the scale of the customer, with the platform needing to support potentially tens of thousands of blogs.
Here, SharePoint does a much better job “Out of the Box”. While the Blogs site template does not have some of the more advanced features of a best of breed solution like WordPress, it is not a bad start for internal corporate blogging.
The basic requirements we had were what you might expect, RSS, Tagging, Rich Client Authoring, Group Blogging, Web Editor, Email Authoring, Email Alerts, Comments, Rich Themes and more. As you read through these I can almost hear you mentally ticking them off, the problem of course, is that often want to be able to do just a little bit more than SharePoint provides. Just a little more functionality doesn’t always translate into just a little more work!
While we could have made all the functional enhancements ourselves, we decided that the Community Kit for SharePoint: Enhanced Blog Edition would enable us to bring on board solutions to a number of the requirements without effort on our part. It also gave us a platform that in some cases made further customisation easier and would give us features “for free” as it evolved.
That is probably enough for today, skip over to Part II: Blog Home Screenshots