When I picked up Building Content Type Solutions in SharePoint 2007 I was hoping that it would be the powerhouse book that helped the SharePoint community realize the power of content types. You see, I’ve decided that they’re one of the most powerful — if not the most powerful — feature in SharePoint. I’m fascinated by the idea that you would create a solution that includes the document template as well as the process (i.e. workflow) around that document when it has been created.
Unfortunately, I can’t say that the book lived up to my expectations. (One could easily say that they weren’t fair.) The book has a ton of great content in it. If you’re an end user, power user, or site administrator — you’ll learn something from the book. My issue is that the book never really develops an audience. It feels like a semi-random collection of stuff about content types. The stuff in the back of the book about development just doesn’t feel like it was intentional. (Not that it’s not valuable.)
So while the book is useful if you’re trying to see some of the power of content types, I’m concerned that it’s not the content type book that the market needs to really realize the power of this particular feature of SharePoint.
I agree with your review. I picked it up in hopes to be able to use this as a resource for some of my power users. I think it providers a great primer, but doesn’t go into the real depth of what content types can deliver.
What I do like about the book though is that it does provide good info on how it fits into things like InfoPath and Workflow.
It was written by two people, wasn’t it?
I can’t help feeling that this ” a semi-random collection of stuff about content types.” is par for the course for books that have more than one author.
I had the same feeling about the SharePoint Design book from Wrox – lot’s of good stuff but not really a sense that it all hung together in a meaningful way.
I’m still glad I have the SharePoint Design book, but that’s another story.
You and I have both written complete books and the experience was certainly vastly different to me than writing a single chapter of the Real Word … book was.
For one I wrote it in order – Chapter 1, followed by 2 etc. People writing parts of books don’t have that “luxury” (or that “burden”?).
I’ve sort of assumed that by now, everyone doing any kind of SharePoint dev or implementation stuff would have realized the power of content types. I may be wrong. When I wrote the most recent issue of the journal, I included just a single chapter on content type introduction, but very little ‘how to use cts in a business implementation’ type of information.
I fully agree with your decision that content types is (one of) the most powerful features of SharePoint. Not to say, the coolest. You forget to mention one exceptionally cool feature, though, and that is that the visual interface can be customized per content type. You can have either just a custom form or a completely custom page as the interface for edit, new, and display forms. Custom forms are not really created per list or library, but per content type.
On your review alone I won’t bother with this book. I am so tired of books that do nothing but describe features and never tell you how to create solutions.
So, Rob, what resource *would* you recommend for development and deployment of content types – as well as educating end-users on the concept?