SharePoint Designer

I recently installed Office 2010 and, along with it, SharePoint Designer 2010.

SharePoint Designer was a child of Microsoft’s WYSIWYG HTML editor FrontPage. Many people cut their teeth in HTML with FrontPage and were promptly told (rightly so) to ditch it for something better. But SharePoint Designer 2007, which is free for any Windows user to download, might actually not completely suck! What a bargain then, a nice WYSIWYG HTML editor that was free for anyone who operates on a Windows OS.

But SharePoint Designer was not the only child of FrontPage to come out of Redmond. There is another WYSIWYG HTML editor called Expression Web. However one must purchase Expression Web; it is not free. I wonder why. SharePoint Designer 2010 answers this question.

SharePoint is a product from Microsoft that tries to solve a lot of business problems. It is perhaps best to think of it as a business intranet on a single server. It handles collaboration, web publishing, portals, wikis, blogs, etc. It’s not a product, it’s a platform. And SharePoint Designer is intended to be used to develop content on SharePoint servers. But SharePoint Designer 2007 lets you create and edit standalone web pages. In essence you could replace FrontPage with SharePont Designer 2007. And don’t forget that it’s free! So that’s what a lot of people did.

Enter SharePoint Designer 2010 which comes with it a very large, very problematic restriction. It only lets you develop content for SharePoint servers. No longer can you manage just any old HTML content; if it’s not on a SharePoint server you can’t touch it with SharePoint Designer 2010.

So all those folks who have looked to SharePoint Designer as their FrontPage replacement are in for a rude awakening.

What’s the Microsoft solution? Expression Web 2010, on sale now at the cut-rate price of US$149.00.

So what free alternatives are available? Well, SharePoint Designer 2007 is still available for download. Maybe stick with that for now. Or you could experiment with Apatana or KompoZer. Or stick to a plain text editor (my preferred choice).

But this post isn’t about evaluating alternative WYSWYG HTML editors. This post is a simple warning to those of you who thought you had found your FrontPage replacement in SharePoint Designer. You didn’t.