Sunday, August 12, 2012

SharePoint: Too much customization is not good for health

SharePoint allows developer/architect to customize it’s power in numerous ways. You can write event receivers, timer jobs, webparts, application pages and so on. But what I’ve found with my years of experience in working with SharePoint is that sometimes developers/architects make too much customization which is not good from maintenance point of view.

If you are senior SharePoint developer or architect or you have the responsibility to design a solution for SharePoint, first focus on out-of-the-box way to solve the problems. If possible, try to compromise features talking to clients.

Real world Example

Let’s consider a simple example. You have a database which is used by other LOB systems. SharePoint reads and writes data to the database and then other LOB systems (like SAP or some custom applications) use (only read) the data in the database for it’s own use.


Now client requirement is to show the data in the database as SharePoint list so that clients get the feelings that the tables in the database are kind of List in the SharePoint. Now what options do you have? I think we have two options:

  • Option 1: Use Business Connectivity Service to show Database tables as SharePoint list
  • Option 2: Create custom SharePoint list and then write event receivers to synchronize data between database and List.

Different architect/developer under different circumstances, may use first option or second. But the first option is more out-of-the-box way of implementing the requirements. However some situations demand the second option where you need to  write custom code and need to sync data between SharePoint list and table in database manually. So as an architect/developer I would prefer the first option using Business Connectivity Service. If I need to choose second option then I should have explanation why I need to use second option. The explanation might be Business Connectivity Service has some limitations that we need to overcome with second option, or the requirements are too complex to implement with Business Connectivity Service.


But Why?

Now you may ask why it’s matter if I do more customization (I would prefer to say unnecessary customization). I bet it’s matter. The more customization you do, the more difficult to manage codebase, more time to develop, more possible to generate more bugs, more difficult to upgrade to newer version of SharePoint and many more. SharePoint is a rich application framework and we need to utilize it in best possible ways.



The idea I wanted to share here not to say that you should not do any customization rather make sure your customization really needed. If you do unnecessary customization then you might paving the way for more customizations (maybe for error fixing or features related to customizations). As I read somewhere, “A single bad developer creates job for more developers”. Let’s not create more customizations by an unnecessary customizations.