While Windows Phone may come with a nice little app for working with SharePoint, the reality is most other devices don't have that luxury, and actually not sure you'd hear that the Windows Phone experience is "awesome" with SharePoint either. In this post I want to dissect the SharePoint Mobile requirements and what you should understand when it comes to navigating your requirements. Often it's important that you first determine what you really care about, so you can pick the correct set of requirements. Different third party apps focus on different functionality.
Looking at Common SharePoint Mobile Requirements -- What is important to you?
- Sync Files and Folders – out of the box there is no way to sync the files from SharePoint to your iPhone or iPad. You need an app for that.
- Edit and Save – While you may be able to download a file and find a viewer on your device, most will have an impossible time getting that file back up to SharePoint.
- Upload – Uploading a document to SharePoint simply does not work on most mobile devices through the browser interface. The mobile browser and the upload functionality don't recognize the file system and doesn't support it as a result. Some of the interfaces are ActiveX and simply don't work anyway.
- Forms and Simple Web Apps – A lot of people who need to work with SharePoint from a mobile device simply need to fill out specific forms, or take specific actions. You'll find some third parties focus on building very simple interfaces with big buttons for making this an easy to use solution. They focus on getting in and getting out.
- Rich UI & Web parts – If you only focus on documents you're missing the boat. There's a lot of organization in the SharePoint UI. But also think about it…. All those configured SharePoint Web Parts that display membership, recent or related documents or links, the dashboards are completely in the UI. Don't forget all the work you've put into custom Dataviews.
- Social Data & Profiles – I've seen some applications that focus on making sure you've got your contact data on the go. Searching for people including skills, phone numbers, and more are really important on the go. Wouldn't it be great to save a profile as a contact?
- Search – If all you've got is a list of files, what are you missing? Is search important? You should be thinking about that slick ability that SharePoint has in being able to search. In out of the box SharePoint for Mobile you're losing all sorts of things from the UI including the all-important search box.
- Rich Interfaces & Views - Each third party has their way of addressing the needs of the UI. I find that the difference between the tasks, calendars, document navigation, setting up my sync or saving my favorites for quick access is a key differentiator.
- Use SharePoint, Maybe I can get away with a simple built a Mobile Masterpage – I've been waiting for the ultimate mobile masterpage. A masterpage designed for many mobile devices and also viewable on the desktop. I saw a vendor at Denver SharePoint Saturday that had built a masterpage that was designed for the iPad. It was pretty slick. I've thought about designing a very simple UI for SharePoint, but haven't gotten to it. It's something to consider in your strategy for sure. It still doesn't address the upload scenario, but maybe with the right control it would. Check out Kyle Schaffer's HTML5 Responsive Masterpage.
- I know you don't like the mobile interface – Kill the SharePoint Mobile Interface - So in effect there is really no helpful built-in mobile support at all; just the ability to view lists with a mobile device.
While this post is written with many products and requirements in mind…
This post sponsored by Infragistics SharePlus, a SharePoint mobile application for iPad, iPhone and Android. Get your free lite copy in the App Store or from http://www.shareplusapp.com. The lite version includes connecting to SharePoint, navigating sites and lists, reading documents, and sorting and grouping items. The Pro version includes content management, document management, automatic synchronization with offline support, media recording, security, Wifi sharing, and local file management. Enterprise management is also available by contacting Infragistics. Check out the links below for your mobile of choice: