Home > Articles > Web Development

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Is It an Application, a Platform, or a Framework?

In the world of information technology software, we often refer to the tools that we use as applications, platforms, or even frameworks:

  • An application is computer software designed to help a user perform specific tasks.
  • A computing platform includes a hardware architecture and a software framework that allow application software to run—for example, the operating system and programming languages.
  • A software framework helps facilitate software development by providing generic capabilities that can be changed or configured to create a specific software application.

Are you confused yet? Well, so is the entire SharePoint community! For a long time, there has been a great deal of debate within the SharePoint community about whether SharePoint is an application or a platform or a framework. SharePoint has a little bit of functionality that could allow you to argue that it is all of these. In the past, SharePoint was positioned as a platform marketed to IT for businesses to build on to create the “center of gravity” for collaboration. Key elements of functionality were referred to as “workloads” that could be brought together to build solutions. The “workload” terminology never really caught on outside of Microsoft and the SharePoint consulting community—and has added to the confusion about “What is it?”

One of the reasons that the debate has raged for so long has to do with how easy it is to customize and configure SharePoint to do pretty much anything you want—that is, to use it as a framework. Unfortunately, by making things so easy to customize—by abstracting the details of the software code required to configure SharePoint enough so that business users can create complex custom solutions—Microsoft unintentionally introduced risk into many organizations because some of those user-created software solutions literally “brought the house down.”

Another reason for the debate has had to do with a general dissatisfaction with the SharePoint “look and feel.” There is probably no consultant or internal IT person responsible for SharePoint who has not heard a business sponsor say, “We’ll use it, but make it not look like SharePoint.” No business sponsors that we know of have ever told their IT folks or consultants, “We’ll use Microsoft Word, but don’t make it look like Word.” Applying a custom look and feel to Microsoft Word would be a colossal waste of corporate money—and it’s just wrong for so many reasons. But pretty much everyone wants to brand SharePoint. When you can completely change the look and feel of a software product, it doesn’t “feel” like an application, especially because when you go from one company to another, you might not be able to easily tell whether the Web site you are using is based on SharePoint or not—until you look under the covers.

With SharePoint 2013, Microsoft appears to want to stop the debating and define SharePoint clearly as an application—but not necessarily as an application with a single purpose. Unlike the Microsoft Word application, which has basically one functional purpose—to create documents—Microsoft considers SharePoint a multipurpose application—one that can be used to create other, highly “personal” applications, one that can be used as is to solve some specific collaboration scenarios, and one that can actually be used as a delivery vehicle to expose other applications (apps within the app, if you will). For some business scenarios, such as your public-facing Web site, it makes good business sense to not just configure how you want to organize and manage your content, but to also customize the look and feel of SharePoint to align with your corporate identity and the purpose and intention of your Internet site. SharePoint 2013 makes this much easier than with any prior version by providing capabilities so that any Web designer or developer can design a SharePoint site without having to become a SharePoint expert. Web designers can create beautiful state-of-the-art Web sites using the tools with which they are already familiar—and SharePoint will convert their HTML files to work with SharePoint automatically. For other business scenarios, such as your internal team collaboration sites, it may make more sense to leverage SharePoint much as you leverage Microsoft Word—as an application for which you spend far more time configuring how you will use it and less time on completely rebranding the look and feel. Minor cosmetic changes to include corporate colors and logos may be sufficient to support internal branding.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020