This content was originally posted on Furuknap’s SharePoint Corner.
We’ve all heard it and we’ve all wondered who and what is a SharePoint Developer? SharePoint is a complex and even trying system that can leave professionals ready to burn their computers, but it also has great capabilities.
SharePoint is first and foremost a way to solve all of your complex business problems. But the term “Developer” can really be a catch all phrase for many titles and functions within a job. Though this might seem obvious, but a SharePoint developer is someone who develops, who creates new, and by doing so solves business problems. Furthermore, SharePoint developer is not a profession but a class of professions that to some extent are defined by the tools that they use. In most cases, SharePoint development can be classified into three main tiers according to Marc D Anderson who originally coined these terms in his “Middle Tier Manifesto.” The tiers get more and more specialized as they go, as well as adding more flexibility and freedom throughout:
- Tier 1: This tier mainly focuses on developing using the web interface and client software. This is a large and overarching category, but these first tier developers benefit not from the freedom but the ease and speed of development.
- Tier 2: 2nd Tier Developers use specialized tools for script development like SharePoint Designer, InfoPath, and even Visual Studio. Middle tier development produces more freedom and flexibility at the expense of having to a lot more crap to get what you want done and often this is limited in terms of portability as well.
- Tier 3: This tier is known for giving developers to most manipulative power in SharePoint. Developers mainly focus on WSP files and solutions in Visual Studio, as well as VS Tools for SharePoint, STSDev, and WSP Builder. This freedom does come with its drawbacks, it is essential to harness the discipline to use all of the power. This tier requires developers to have to focus considerable time to both learn and practice the capabilities of the solution software mentioned above.
Regardless, if you think you are a Tier 1 expert or a Tier 3, these skills are useless unless you acquire a basic understanding of development topics such as control, debugging, data modeling, and security. This is not about impressing your superior with solutions that work, but more about understanding how your solution fixes the business problem that was originally posed.
Furthermore, these tiers are not mutually exclusive. These tiers are dependent on one another to function and to produce a well-rounded solution. Based on that fact, no tier is better than the other. They just simply have different functions and tools that set them apart.
So, it is essential to note that if someone tells you they are an expert in ALL SharePoint development tiers and tasks, you can know they are just plain ignorant or straight up lying. Each development tier can take years to even understand, let alone master. Expertise in one tier is much more valuable than just a very basic understanding of all tiers.
Study up, do your research, read some of the amazing SharePoint books out in the world to build your base knowledge. From there, you can now go into production using these new skills and the understanding of software development to really master the realm of SharePoint Development.