Book review: Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 Unleashed

The people from Pearson tweeted me if I wanted to do a book review on the Kathy Hughes book on SharePoint Designer, called “Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 Unleashed”.

Tweeting and unpackaging

Sure, I replied, I am doing a lot of stuff with SPD these days, so I can do a practical check to see if my questions (and those of my customer) are dealt with in this book.

I picked it up (riding my bike all the way through the Antwerp Harbor with pouring rain) and I was immediately amazed at the weight of the book! When I removed the cardboard packaging, the orange/red cover with 1600 pages of SPD goodness was looking at me.

The book: Parts, Chapters and content
The book is divided into 4 parts, who have their respective chapters.
In the beginning of the book you have the “Contents at a Glance” overview, showing those parts and chapters:

Part I: Welcome to SharePoint Server 2010
1. SharePoint 2010 Overview
2. SharePoint 2010 Architectural Overview
3. Introduction to the SharePoint 2010 Fluid Interface
4. Design Administrative Tasks: Site Settings, Permissions and Creating Sites
5. In-Browser Customization: Navigation, Content Pages and Content
6. In-Browser Customization: Branding with Web Parts, Themes and Master Pages

Part II: Enhancing Sites with SharePoint Designer 2010
7. Web Interface Design with SharePoint Designer 2010
8. Creating Sites with Site Templates
9. Working with Content Types and Columns in SharePoint Designer
10. Creating and Configuring Lists and Libraries

Part III: Styling and Designing SharePoint 2010 Sites
11. Understanding SharePoint Designer Editing Features
12. Working with Content Pages in SharePoint Designer
13. Building New Content Pages and Configuring Web Parts and Web Part Zones
14. Extending Content Pages with Media and Dialogs
15. Creating New Publishing Page Layouts
16. Working with and Creating New SharePoint Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
17. Creating New SharePoint 2010 Master Pages
18. SharePoint Themes and Themable CSS: The Icing on the Cake

Part IV: Data Manipulation and Business Processes
19. Configuring Data Sources (Non-BCS)
20. External Content Types and External Lists (BCS)
21. Manipulating Data with ASP.NET Data Controls
22. Overview of XSLT List View and Data View Web Parts in SharePoint 2010
23. Working with XSLT List View Web Parts (XLVs)
24. Working with the Data View and Data Form Web Parts
25. Configuring and Customizing List Forms
26. Customizing List Forms with InfoPath 2010 Forms
27. Using Workflows and Creating Custom Workflows
28. Creating Custom List Actions: Adding Buttons to the Ribbon and List Item Menus

After that, a ToC is shown with all the processes that are described in the book. That list goes on for about 23 pages.. no shortage on content here!!

Same for the end of the book..40 pages with index so you can look up a specific word or functionality ( like “Conditional Formatting”).
That leaves about 1500 pages of pure, shiny SPD functionality! Really every aspect of using SPD passes by, from creating workflows to creating custom forms, from configuring external datasources to changing the look&feel.

A large number of “notes” are scattered around the how-to’s to give more in depth information or to outline special cases (“adding the rating control to content pages is only relevant where you are running SP 2010. It does not apply to foundation”).
This makes the book ideal for people who are working with SharePoint (just started or SP Veterans). Almost no code is mentioned in the book (except some small css or very understandable other stuff) and all the how-to’s are really clear. I also like the best practices. It is not when you can that you should, so these come in handy for the less tech-savvy in the organization. They are clear and give the reason why you shouldn’t.

My 0.02 $
Just like SharePoint Administrators have their SharePoint Administrator’s Companion book, key users / information workers have this “bible”. Every SharePoint team needs at least 1 copy of this book because once you have it nearby, you are going to use. A lot! I noticed that my other SharePoint team members are more at my desk then before just to browse in the book.

It covers everything (and I do mean everything) you can do with SPD2010, very efficiently written in a process structure so you can follow the steps in order to get to your goal. A lot of images help you to keep on track.
I know there are a lot of good (and sometimes not so good) sources online, but they are not always right or apply to an old beta version.Kathy did an amazing job on writing this, and I can only imagine the hard work and hours of blood, sweat and SharePoint tears that were necessary to create this “all the cool stuff you can do with this program” book. If she wasn’t a MVP already, she would sure get my vote!! (not that anyone ever asks, but hey..)

This book is not going on my shelve, I am going to keep it on my desk next to my keyboard so I can grab it every time I need it!

About: Marijn

Marijn Somers (MVP) has over 14 years experience in the SharePoint world, starting out with SP2007. Over the years the focus has grown to Office 365, with a focus on collaboration and document management. He is a business consultant at Balestra and Principal Content Provider for "Mijn 365 Coach" that offers dutch employee video training. His main work tracks are around user adoption, training and coaching and governance. He is also not afraid to dig deeper in the technicalities with PowerShell, adaptive cards or custom formatting in lists and libraries. You can listen to him on the biweekly "Office 365 Distilled" podcast.

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