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I know a little bit about what SharePoint is (some kind of website designer kit that lets users design their web pages), but that's about it.

I am tasked with assisting the creation of a website using SharePoint 2013. However, I have no idea where to begin. The trouble I'm having is I have so little knowledge that I can't ask the right questions to learn more. My brain just has a foggy idea of a thing called sharepoint that does some magic stuff and then there's a website.

Could anyone be kind enough to point me in the right direction to start learning? I know how to make websites, so I really just want to know how to code my website in whatever environment I need to be doing 'SharePoint'.

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2 Answers 2

Hmmm... I was tasked with that very thing. What I did was to play with the demo and to first find the settings panel in Sharepoint's GUI and begin exploring. I would click on whatever seemed somewhat familiar and build from that. After you get around a little, you start to see what you want, and then you start looking for answers.

Honestly, I wish I had started with some sort of class. I've been fighting an uphill battle from the start. For example, I've asked some 51 questions here in Sharepoint Stack Exchange! I have, however, gone to a SharePoint Saturday and benefitted immensely - I even won an Android Tablet whilst I was there!

SharePoint is what is known as a CMS - that is, a Content Management System. Sure, it allows users to "create their own websites" - but only in a controlled fashion. SharePoint is really made for collaboration rather than an interface where folks can "build websites".

Where to begin -

  1. explore a demo and see if it does what you imagine
  2. take some basic classes, even online classes - it will save you a lot of time and headache
  3. Familiarize yourself with the basics of asp.net.
  4. Sites? Here are a few of my favourite:
  5. Solutions and Tools:
    • Definitely, once you get yourself going, look at CodePlex- just search for SharePoint.
    • There is also the SharePoint Administrator's Toolbar for Firefox (toot! toot!).
    • Once you know how to break things, get the SharePoint Manager (but this is and advanced tool)
    • Of Course, you will need MicroSoft SharePoint Designer, which is free.
    • Later on, if you decide to develop your own solutions, you'll need Microsoft Visual Studio. Express is free.
    • Also, know that you can install SharePoint on a virtual machine (Win 7 will do) and explore anything you like! But again, that's not quite newb material.
    • I still use Notepad++ for editing styles and javascript! You should know that you CAN add jQuery to a master page.

You should also read this post here at SharePoint StackExchange.

I hope that helps a little bit. It is a BIG task! Be courageous!

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Describing SharePoint as a 'website' is like describing the Grand Canyon as a drainage ditch. SharePoint is a huge product and while, yes, it does do websites, that is really only about 5% of what it actually does.

The launching point for all of the research you will need is probably the Microsoft documentation itself. There is a lot of it here though and it is often written using language that assumes extensive familiarity with SharePoint.

The first place focus is to identify the intended audience for the site. If it is exclusively internal users located behind the firewall then you are likely looking for an 'On Premise' solution, which means you need to download and install it on a rather powerful server with a solid database server backing it up.

However, if the audience is mixed between internal and external or is almost exclusively external, then you are in luck as Microsoft offers SharePoint 2013 in the cloud which really makes life much, much easier for someone new to the SharePoint world.

Microsoft has detailed documentation comparing On-Premises and Hosted options though a much shorter summary is available. The choice between On Premises or Hosted will likely dictate many of your other choices so this should be addressed first.

If you are looking to just jump in and play with SharePoint, you can install it by downloading the bits from MSDN and then following these instructions. However, to get started immediately, you can sign up for the Preview and play around there, usually in less than 15 minutes!

If you end up deciding that you need an on-premise installation of SharePoint, I would strongly recommend that you bring in a qualified SharePoint Consultant to handle that task. There are a lot of variables that go into properly setting up a SharePoint farm and any one of those could put your farm (and data) at risk. Beyond that is the fact that SharePoint is not meant to stand-alone. It is designed to integrate with SQL, Active Directory, Exchange, Office, etc., and each of those touchpoints will also need to be handled.

The absolute best resource for SharePoint related questions is the SharePoint community itself as members of the community generally have detailed blogs that break down behaviors and functionality into easily understandable bits. Odds are that if you are struggling with something then someone somewhere has detailed steps on how to get past that bit.

Expect to learn a lot on this road and expect to keep learning for years.

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Just to answer your last question - Everything you know about 'Creating websites' will likely need to be re-thought after you understand SharePoint as it has a few restrictions on what can or cannot be done. It also has a bunch of out-of-the-box functionality that you should use rather than custom code it. –  Dave Wise Dec 18 '12 at 0:46
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