Should FrontPage Sites be Moved to MOSS?

I ran into an interesting situation this morning with a customer.   One of their internal departments has a group of technical writers that manages a lot of procedural documents and forms and they use a web site based on FrontPage to manage this.  They were originally asking for some help learning Expression Web, which they had identified as the upgraded product to FrontPage.  They manage a site that is almost completely read-only to their users, with a team of 6-8 who edit pages on the site.  They are leveraging Dynamic Web Templates (DWT) within their page designs, so they are seeing some reusable benefits in their efforts. 

I’ve spent a couple of days of time with them, explaining the benefits of SharePoint features, including collaboration and permission management, and different approaches to page editing and management. 

At the end of today’s session, however, we all felt that it would still require less effort to migrate their site to an ASP.Net based site using Expression Web, than would be required to convert the pages to SharePoint.  This is because the site is completely read-only to the users and there is no collaboration requirement.

They did bring to my attention a web tool for managing security on the IIS web site to support permission management for their site if they did move to Expression Web.  This tool is the Web Site Administration Tool, described here on MSDN.  This looks like a useful tool (although I haven’t installed it yet) to manage the last hurdle that was a firm requirement for SharePoint, that of page permissions.  They need to restrict page views to specific AD groups and specific individuals.

Because I was working with only one department, there was not a way to “sell” the advantages of having a corporate environment.  I think that this department could benefit in the long term from using a SharePoint platform, through content reuse and version management and collaboration for their small team, and this department could serve as one of the supporting reasons for the customer as a whole to move to a SharePoint platform for their corporate intranet. 

Until the conversation can be held at the Intranet level, however, the justification for moving on a broadscale to SharePoint can’t be leveraged to help the accounting department.  If we wait too long to get the corporate intranet moved over to SharePoint, this site will be converted completely to .Net and Expression Web, and it will be even more difficult to justify the page conversion cost to migrate these pages again, ultimately to SharePoint.

The Mesh

Well, there have been a lot of blog posts in the area around Mesh, a technology recently released by Microsoft to leverage The Cloud.  I’m a big believer in The Cloud, and while Meshimage may not be the ultimate platform that wins the cloud, it certainly could be, and it looks to me like it’s got some great potential.  I’m a huge fan.

For a basic introduction to Mesh, see the First Look whitepaper that has been published.

To track the news about Mesh, use the Mesh-blog.

Mesh is a platform.  Currently, the first application to be released on Mesh is a file and folder sharing application.  This functionality has been delivered via other technologies (i.e. FolderShare and somewhat by Groove) before, so, in itself, file and folder sharing isn’t revolutionary. 

Oh, yeah, and it includes Remote Desktop.  That’s kind of cool, although, didn’t we already have that?  well, yeah, but this one is a little different in that it’s RDP-Meshified.

The development side of Mesh, and the vision that the team has described so far, makes it very useful to developers of the next great applications. 

Is this based on Groove?  No, it’s actually based on a derivative of Feed Sync, but it provides a platform for some, if not all, of what Groove provides today.

For some idea of what is coming, you have to watch Ori Amiga’s video showing some sample apps and try to follow his vision on this thing.  He sold me.

Because the beta system has a limited scope right now, the invitations to participate are already sold out.  Watch for more soon.  Sign up early and often.