SharePoint designer is so like a wife – I love it to bits, sometimes I hate it, and I fervently hope for a cuter version in the future! No, I’m kidding.
But SPD currently has this persistence in adding a in front of my page’s title field. I don’t need that non-breaking space. I don’t want that non-breaking space. But I keep deleting it, and Designer keeps adding it back in.
For me, it’s a sign one of the two big problems with SharePoint Designer – robustness. When I’m in Visual Studio, I’m comfortable; it’s pretty reliable, normally, and behaves in ways I understand. Even the things that can blow it up are pretty well understood. Much as I hate to admit it, I do think that the reason that C# won out over Java was simpler, robust tooling – Visual Studio.
However, with SharePoint designer all sorts of weird stuff happens…
- These bloody character that keep appearing
- Spurious and apparently random errors from the Dataview web part – sometimes…
- The ‘Select Data Source’ dialog rendering sometimes failing
- The fact that I have to try twice to get into the _catalogs folder when I open a site – though in fairness, that could just be SharePoint…
- Inserting Web parts is sometimes available – and sometimes not. And Lord help you if you want to insert one into the code view.
- Randomly losing connectivity to Servers that I know are available.
- Falling over all the time.
SharePoint 14 is, I hope, going to be an ‘evolutionary’ step – or put another way, a few extra features hiding the world’s largest service pack! I do hope that the plan is to do the same with Designer. It feels very powerful, but very… version 1.
The other problem with designer, as I see it, is complexity. It’s pretty much as complex as Visual Studio – but it’s supposed to be the lightweight ‘business user’ tool. I mean yes, what that business user is up to can be pretty complex too. But would a lightweight ‘workflow designer’ not be good as another tool? How about making the ‘New Page’ dialogs a bit more… SharePoint? I mean, creating Standard ASP.Master pages – but for SharePoint? It is SharePoint Designer, right? CSS page layouts? Very cool, shame the team building designer didn’t meet the team who built SharePoint’s pages – ‘cos they’re not the most useful in SharePoint. Web components – FrontPage Extensions relic. This list goes on.
Now, I realise that SharePoint Designer won’t ever be as simple as, say, NotePad (thankfully it’s a bit more feature rich). But what would be good for the next version is that, if this is to be SharePoint Designer, could someone please strip out all of the stuff that isn’t about SharePoint? FTP settings! And rethink the dialogs? And make the Accessibility checker work (I think if that worked it would be fantastic!)
Oh well, I live in hope. A bit of a rant, I know, and I both see the point of Designer, and think it has great potential – but I reckon it’s still showing it’s Frontpage heritage