SharePoint Designer 2010: Should You Use It?

By Asif Rehmani

You might have heard of or played around with SharePoint Designer 2010 already. However, do you know exactly who is it targeted for? Definitely not the end users - readers and members of a site. Aside from these folks, everyone else can take advantage of this software immediately!

The prime candidates to use this product are site and site collection administrators, power users, and believe it or not, even IT professionals and developers. Once you start using the product, you quickly realize how much time you can save by not having to go the coding route every time.

The Best Things in Life are Free
First, let’s talk about the price of SharePoint Designer 2010 (SPD 2010)… well, or the lack of a price tag.
Just like SPD 2007, SPD 2010 is also a free product. It is available for download at the Microsoft site.

The reason Microsoft has decided to make the product free is because it didn’t want the price point of the product to be the barrier in customizing and extending SharePoint to its full potential. Since you can only do so much within the web browser window and most people won’t want to go the programming route, to take ultimate advantage of your SharePoint deployment, it is almost (dare I say) a necessity to use either SharePoint Designer!

What’s in a Name Anyway?
The last word (‘Designer’) in the name of this product confuses many people who first hear about it. SharePoint Designer to them insinuates that it must be a product for people who need to do branding or styling in SharePoint. While it’s true that SPD is really good at letting you apply style sheets to your sites and alter or create new Master Pages etc., this is only one part of its functionality.

In my own case, for example, I use SPD for all the non-branding reasons. I use it to create end-to-end solutions on top of SharePoint using functionality such as the Data View Web Part, Workflow designer, manipulating Web Part zones, creating page layouts, creating External Content Types, just to name a few. I truly believe and always mention to my customers to very seriously consider using SharePoint Designer in their environment to take full advantage of their SharePoint investment.

SharePoint Designer Resources
Follow the links listed below for SharePoint Designer. They will provide you with the resources you need to continue your journey.
Download SharePoint Designer 2010 32-bit
• SharePoint Designer resource page on office.com
• Book - Beginning SharePoint Designer 2010
• Tutorials - My SharePoint Designer Fundamentals Video Tutorial DVD

Check out some SharePointPro articles related to SharePoint Designer:
SharePoint Designer 2010 Quick Dive, by Asif Rehmani
Q: How Do I Create a Data Source for the Search Web Service in SharePoint Designer 2010? by Bart McDonough
Workflows in SharePoint 2010, by Serge Luca


Asif Rehmani is a SharePoint Server MVP and MCT. View his complete bio here.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Feb 17, 2011
Previous versions of SPD supported the maintenance of simple web sites (SP Designer was replacing MS FrontPage).
The version 2010 of SPD does no longer support this. You have to change to MS Expression (which is no longer a free product). So don't migrate to 2010 if you use SPD only for FrontPage - type of activities.

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