Sunday, March 8, 2009

SharePoint Lists vs. SQL table

First there are some obvious similarities.

Both structures : Let you define a structured repository for your data.Can be queried to retrieve all or part of the data based on specified criteria. But the differences are overwhelming: SharePoint Server automatically generates a powerful UI for SharePoint lists, both on the list administrator side and on the end user side. A dedicated UI would have to be created from scratch for SQL tables.

Compelling example is the ability for end users to upload files to SharePoint document libraries. The web pages to provide the upload functionality are generated transparently. Given the right permissions, business users can create and manage SharePoint lists relevant to their day-to-day work. Do not expect the same business users to create and manage SQL tables – they would not even have the tools to do it.

This has a significant impact on IT workload as more tasks can be delegated to end users.Complex workflows can be attached to data in SharePoint lists, to be triggered manually or whenever data is added or changed. Recreating the same functionality for SQL data would be a complex task involving IT.

By using SharePoint list views, business users can customize the presentation of data to fit their precise needs. In particular, they can filter, sort or group data in ways that make sense to them, without requiring IT intervention.

Content types can be specified to restrict what type of content can be included in a specific SharePoint list. This provides tremendous flexibility, while enforcing a comprehensive taxonomy.SharePoint lists can hold records as well as documents, images, InfoPath forms as well as other files. This provides a very generic way to store content assets.

Document management features like versioning, check-in/check-out, folders or content expiration can be enabled on any SharePoint list in a single click. Performance : SharePoint lists being generic has some performance limitation. Lists with more than 2000 items do not perform very good where-as SQL tables fly with large data. Note: Both SharePoint list and SQL table data can be made available in the search results of SharePoint Server. For list items, this inclusion is automatic. Records from SQL tables would be integrated by using the Business Data Catalog feature of MOSS 2007.