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I am not a SharePoint Developer, but I have been assigned some tasks. Therefore, I have had to put my hands on it unfortunately(?). :)

We are currently evaluating SharePoint to retire 5-6 tools which we are using across the company such as Time Tracking, Project Tracker, Defect Tracker(workflow enabled), Recruitment System and a couple of others.

I see that SharePoint is a quite powerful tool which can cope with these. However, we do not quite like the user interface of SharePoint(a bit complicated and not intuitive, just a personal opinion). We have also a couple of other tools, which are used by our customers, that we are planning to develop in SharePoint, but we do want to give a less complicated interface. I am aware of that, although, it seems to be nightmare, SharePoint can be customized and branded in accordance with needs. But as much you customize it, there are still things that need to stay as they are and cannot be customized(I might be wrong).

My question is whether it is sensible to develop our own web application relying on SharePoint Server API or not. We are thinking to develop a centralized web portal which will service to variety of departments across the company. By the way, administrating of of the system will still be done via SharePoint interface such as security and maintenance.

My question is that is Sharepoint Server API capable of achieving everything that users can do via sharepoint interface in terms of the functionality? In other words, will I be able to develop every functionality which Sharepoint has by using Sharepoint API? I have developed a couple of small applications using Server API, but as you appreciate, devils are in details. I am just trying to foresee any possible pitfalls before I jump into it.

Could you please warn me If it is a wring way to go? or any other suggestions will be appreciated.

Many thanks for your help.


PS1 : We are using Sharepoint 2010.

PS2 : I think we can support more web browsers in our interface than Sharepoint interface does. Ok we will lose quite a bit of functionality that Sharepoint interface gives, obviously. but nothing is for free..

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Branding SharePoint is no nightmare compared to building your totally own custom UI.

Building a completley new interface instead of customizing the UI of SharePoint seems like a very stupid and and time consuming idea - not counting the time and effort it will take. You will not be able to build everything you like, there are multiple of internal interfaces, rendered HTML that cannot be changed etc etc

If you're building you own web application - use plain ol' ASP.NET, MVC or whatever...

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Thanks for your reply and calling the 'idea' as very stupid. It was just an idea, that is why I asked it out. Regarding your reply, we will still need to put effort on learning how to customize it without breaking things. Developing new interface take time obviously, but I would like to understand difficulties and obstructions on the way. we have a team capable of developing powerful ASP.NET applications and I thought it might be less time consuming to develop new interface(does not need to be as complicated as sharepoint, necessarily) than learning sharepoint branding. – AnarchistGeek Dec 16 '11 at 12:08
Is sharepoint interface fully customizable from the look and feel point of view? – AnarchistGeek Dec 16 '11 at 12:08
Of course nothing stopping you ramping up your own ASP.NET MVC app that uses SharePoint for storage... – James Love Dec 16 '11 at 12:09
Re Look & Feel - pretty much. You'd be impressed with the sites out there that are running on SharePoint, but look nothing like it. – James Love Dec 16 '11 at 12:10
I agree with Wictor, you really can just invest some time in branding SharePoint using HTML/CSS than building your own UI and hooking into SharePoint on the back end. In the end you'll end up having to do a ton of work that you get for free. Yes, SharePoint is complicated but that's because it does a lot. Think of it as a platform with a UI that you can extend and enhance using jQuery rather than something you replace. There are also things that are just going to trip you up like Microsoft Office integration. If you don't need all that, don't use SharePoint and build a ASP.NET app with SQL. – Bil Simser Dec 16 '11 at 12:59

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