In the midst of the 2015 edition of the SharePoint Technology Conference—fondly known as SPTechCon—it’s tempting to look back over the last few years in the SharePoint universe.
This is the 14th SPTechCon. It started way back in 2009, when most people were running SharePoint 2003 or 2007. It’s the seventh Boston iteration, with its other anchor cities being San Francisco and now Austin.
Just yesterday, the SharePoint 2016 Preview was released into the wild. Boy has SharePoint changed a lot over SPTechCon’s existence!
At the genesis of SPTechCon, it was almost the only SharePoint-related conference going on, other than Microsoft’s shows. Not only was it one of the first, it was and continues to be one of the best. This incarnation brings together more than 40 SharePoint experts and MVPs to present more than 80 sessions about SharePoint and Office 365.
When SPTechCon started, SharePoint community communication was very different. Twitter was just getting rolling as a locus for cross-community conversations, and the blogosphere was still pretty sparse. Searching for help on how to accomplish something in SharePoint might possibly yield results, but it was unlikely. Most of us had to make it up as we went.
Now, we’re almost buried in useful, high-quality content. Of course, the flip side of that is that we are buried in content that can be misleading or even wrong. These days, rather than needing just to validate the content itself, we need to validate the sources of the content as well. Knowing who the “trusted sources” are is even more important.
The documentation we had to work with for SharePoint was... well, let’s just say it wasn’t quite enough. The large majority of that documentation from Microsoft was focused on development of server-side code. The user side of things was light, and many training companies stepped in to pick up the slack. These days, many of the training companies have stepped back from the scene, as sites like Pluralsight and conferences like SPTechCon offer alternative options.
When SPTechCon started, if we talked about “the Cloud,” we were talking about the weather or whether a cloud looked like a puppy or an elephant. Today I sat in Ben Curry’s session, “SharePoint Online vs. SharePoint On-premises: MC Escher or Rand McNally?” which was all about building a road map for your (virtually inevitable) march to the cloud.
SharePoint is not dead (or dying), the SharePoint community is not dead, and Microsoft is not dead. We all know the famous quote from Mark Twain (“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”) and if SharePoint could speak, it would paraphrase it. (Or is anthropomorphism dead?)
A few things have stayed constant:
- The SharePoint community was (and still is) the most amazing technical community most of us have ever worked in.
- SharePoint is pervasive at almost every organization. If anything, it’s more pervasive than it was back in 2009, when it was already quite common.
- SPTechCon remains one of the most solid and valuable SharePoint conferences out there.
As we get our first peeks at SharePoint 2016, we can see a well-paved highway ahead for SharePoint, whether it’s on-premises or swaddled in Office 365 in the cloud. And I’m sure that SPTechCon will continue to be here, bringing us along for the ride.
Marc Anderson is a Microsoft MVP and an enterprise collaboration strategist.