(Rating: 4 out of 5)
SharePoint implementations are currently growing. This is because IT teams can leverage scalability possibilities offered and also because end users can completely configure or create applications. Out-of-the-box SharePoint forms are quite simple and cannot be configured without some customizations (using Microsoft SharePoint Designer) or development (with Visual Studio).
Some interesting features are missing in these O.O.B. forms (cascaded lookups, group by multi-valued field and so on).
Quest Software (now part of Dell) offers about 10 web parts* that can be completely configured to leverage global features and reduce time development using the user interface. Quest Apps (formally Quest Web Parts) can fit most of your business needs.
Developers can easily configure a lot of things (for a complete overview, please refer to Dell web site. End users are allowed to do the same (depending on users’ permissions) but this can be complex for them to implement all features.
Some interesting features are provided by these Web Parts. For example, there is a web part to export filtered data to Excel (users don’t have to use Excel 2007 in opposition to O.O.B export feature) or another one to display information using graphs.
These basic features are really useful. There is however an exception. List View doesn’t provide filter features as Microsoft did (filter choices on the title of the field). This can be disconcerting for end users who already use SharePoint and did not receive a short training yet.
Beside classic forms and views, System Information forms can be used when Business Data Catalog is not available for displaying and modifying data coming from other System Information like SAP.
All the forms can be displayed in different languages depending on the culture of the user using a really simple technique based on a resources list. In the latest version, lookup values can be displayed using the current culture. This is really interesting for displaying some document status or choices in different languages. With these components, SharePoint is really a collaborative platform whatever people language is.
One of the most important features is the ability to extend functionality of Dell forms by adding buttons with custom code. Furthermore, it is up to the developers to code some new layouts (CSS, data display structure and anything related to display) or adding some features in the form.
All these features are really useful, but developers have to be aware that they will have to develop a bit differently. If you are looking for components for a future implementation, do not hesitate. For an existing SharePoint platform, take your time to be sure that you will not have technical issues (List Form behavior has an impact in event handlers implementation, for example).
Because of per web-front-end server licensing mode, global cost can increase rapidly. You can decrease cost by adequate infrastructure architecture and use these web parts only if required.
Last but not least, support team is quick and sends feedback about any issues every time, responds to question or suggestion you send. A new version is released approximately 3 times per year.
EDITOR CORRECTION AS OF 2/24/2013:
- Quest Software is now part of Dell (name change in the article)
- Quest Web Parts are now Quest Apps (name change in the article)
- *Quest Apps now includes more than 20 Web parts (not 10 as stated above)