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Who are SharePoint Developers and What they do?

I came across an interesting article today regarding SharePoint Administrators Vs SharePoint Developers

The post starts with how the recruitment websites do not differentiate between a SharePoint developer and administrator role, but ended up with listing down (what might be) the differences between a SharePoint developer and administrator. I was surprised to see how the developers’ responsibility was narrowed down to just 3 points! Below is the excerpts from the post comparing the developer and administrator:

SharePoint Administrator

  1. Responsible for Servers in SharePoint farm
    • Includes set-up and configuration of SharePoint Services on Servers, maintenance of Web Front End Servers, Indexing Servers, and some aspects of maintaining Database servers. (In smaller companies like mine, the job of SharePoint administrator also inherits the job of Database administrator, and this should be accounted for in deciding compensation.)
  2. Creation and maintenance of Sites and Site Collections, as well as all associated databases and services, such as Shared Service Providers, and Extended Authentication providers if needed.
  3. Set-up and maintenance of Outgoing and Incoming e-mail services
  4. Qualification, Installation and Maintenance of any Plug-in, Feature, Web Part, Template or Solution, including 3rd party software or applications.
  5. Responsible for back-up and recovery practices, and maintaining integrity and reliability of access to information.
  6. Responsible for set-up and configuration of Excel Services and InfoPath services (If available).
  7. Responsible or establishing and/or maintaining end user access policy and permissions.
    • This may also include the ability to delegate permissions authority to other users, as deemed appropriate.
  8. Responsible for implementing and maintaining search services, including defining search scopes.
  9. Responsible for implementing and maintaining user profile properties, including “MySites” functionality.
  10. Responsible for coordinating and implementing best use practices, and communicating with company management best use scenarios.
    • Best use practices may include creating simple workflow processes and simple site customization.

SharePoint Developer

  1. Responsible for design, creation and implementation of custom webparts, .NET user controls, custom Master Pages, custom Layouts, custom Event Handlers, features, solutions,  and templates to be used in a SharePoint environment.
  2. Responsible for integrating non-SharePoint related services into SharePoint applications as needed.
  3. Demonstrates a proficiency in any of the following; XML, CAML,  XSLT, HTML, DHTML, ASP.NET, C#, ASP, JavaScript, style sheet/CSS

I myself am a SharePoint developer, but certainly I do not fall *only* to those 3 job responsibilities as told in the post. The SharePoint Administrator’s job responsibilities doesn’t look like it would work well in all occasions.

If I (my team) am building a SharePoint WCM website, I make sure I (as a team) do everything  – create site collections, site columns, content types, libraries, lists, permissions etc., I package everything as WSPs and also write scripts that will create the site collection, sites, sub-sites, install WSPs etc., I then pass on these scripts and WSP packages to the ‘SharePoint Administrator’  who will then run those scripts, install WSPs and activate various features which will install site columns, content types, lists, permissions, libraries etc.,

Every project is different and it is going to vary on the project scope – Intranet Portal Vs WCM Website 

If you are building an Intranet MOSS website, in most cases you will end up using out of the box functionalities, except may be changing few things in branding, like the logo, site theme etc., On the other hand, building WCM website is not going to be as easy as building an Intranet Portal. A developer needs to know various SharePoint concepts before dwelling into the project. The developers also need to understand the site structure when working with SharePoint WCM projects and provide an automated way which would ease in deploying the site aspects across various environments (integrated dev, UAT, production). The only environment which has limited access to developers is the Production Environment, but that doesn’t keep the development team out of the project. In many cases, the development team lead (who is a developer) will guide the SharePoint Administrator in deployments in the production box. The team (along with developers) should also take care of content deployment as sometimes the content deployment can fail due to a small piece of code segment. SharePoint developers’ responsibilities will grow depending on the project scope and will vary from time to time.

According to me, a SharePoint Administrator is one who manages the SharePoint Infrastructure, co-ordinates with the Network Infrastructure guys on building the SharePoint Farm, enabling various SSPs, managing various updates etc.,. Testing & evaluating various new updates (like – infrastructure updates, SP2 etc.,), third party integrations also form a major responsibility of the SharePoint Administrators.

There is also the difference between SharePoint Customization and SharePoint Development

Last but not the least, don’t forget the SharePoint Consultants and the BAs who interact with your Customers and bring you money!

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  1. I know I shortchanged developers in my post, but being a lowly admin myself, and not a developer, I really don’t know everything that goes into development. I wish I could have done a better job at describing what a developer actually does. The article was not meant to slander developers, admins, or any of the people who are involved in SharePoint. The article was meant to higlight what you have also unwittingly pointed out; there is a great lack of communication as to what the difference is between Admins, Developers and so on, creating confusion that bleeds over elsewhere. Please don’t take offense to what I have posted, it is based on my experience, which is limited at best.