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OneNote and SharePoint

OneNote and SharePoint

OneNote and SkyDrive make a great combination for personal information management and small-group collaboration, such as sharing information with friends, planning family events, and working on projects across organizational boundaries. In enterprise work-computing contexts, OneNote is more likely to be used with SharePoint than SkyDrive, due to organizational information-management requirements, such as the need to support regulatory reporting requirements and e-discovery activities.

When the full set of communication and collaboration tools and services provided in Office, SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync are considered, it's clear that Microsoft currently has something of an embarrassment of riches. There is some uncertainty, for example, about when to use SharePoint wikis instead of—or in combination with—shared OneNote notebooks. One criterion to consider when deciding between SharePoint wikis and shared OneNote notebooks is whether you need to be able to work while network-disconnected (possible with OneNote, but not with SharePoint wikis).

Microsoft also hasn't provided clear criteria for deciding between shared OneNote notebooks and SharePoint Workspace, the product based in part on technology Microsoft picked up in its acquisition of Groove Networks in 2005. While SharePoint Workspace continues to support the earlier Groove tools and services for collaboration, those should be considered "legacy" at this point; that is, unless you're already using the traditional Groove workspace tools, you shouldn't start now, due to their overlap with other Microsoft offerings, including OneNote.

The ability to take SharePoint sites offline with SharePoint Workspace, greatly expanded in the 2010 product release, is intended for personal use only, essentially providing a personal "briefcase" option for SharePoint resources, so it has limited overlap with shared OneNote notebooks. SharePoint Workspace also does not currently support the offline use of SharePoint wikis, making it appropriate mostly for working offline with SharePoint document libraries and lists. As a final consideration in this context, note that SharePoint Workspace is not included in all Office 2010 editions (as OneNote is), so pricing/licensing constraints are likely as well.

Microsoft also has several tools for the discussion forum domain described earlier in Figure 2. Outlook 2010 can be used in conjunction with SharePoint discussions, for example, and that's often an attractive option for people who are already using Outlook for email and other communication channels (such as RSS feeds). As another option to keep in mind, Microsoft Lync has a persistent group chat feature that's useful for discussion-oriented scenarios in which same-time interactivity is appropriate.

It's possible to use OneNote for discussions as well; for example, using page/sub-page relationships, or following a convention for in-line (intra-page) commentary, as in the example shown earlier in Figure 4. Overall, OneNote should be considered a strong choice for information-management and collaboration contexts that are best addressed with collaborative hypertext journaling capabilities. It is not intended to be a panacea, and it offers strong synergy with other parts of the Office and SharePoint product families.

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