Glitch Boy Rides Again

By David Kessler

A past co-worker once dubbed me "glitch boy" for my ability to ask simple questions that reveal a basic flaw or glitch in some major and expensive system.  I don't do this on purpose, as far as I'm concerned I'm just asking reasonable, even obvious questions.

The other day I was using Microsoft SharePoint at work, writing the content that would explain to people at work how to produce and manage events.  In the document library for the site I created a folder that would hold various forms that people would need.  I called this folder "Forms".  You may already know what's coming depending on how familiar you are with the Microsoft knowledge base on SharePoint - apparently they've been aware of this issue for a while now.

It turns out that "Forms" is a word that SharePoint takes seriously.  VERY seriously.  There's all sorts of functionality built around this word, and while they let you type it, they don't let you un-type it; no deleting, no re-naming, nothing.  It's like an airline letting you fly to any of a thousand cities, but if you happen to choose that one particular city then you can NEVER leave.  Have you ever been stuck in Newark International Airport for a few hours? Well I'm talking about forever.

This is what my Tech support explained to me.  The solution?  Delete the entire library and then re-create it with a new name.  Really?  That's the solution?  Blow up Newark and then rebuild it exactly the same but without you in it?!

But that's me - I believe that if something is difficult to get out of, that fact should be mentioned on the way in.  Fine print on contracts is a way of saying, "Look out, there are consequences to signing this document", Prices on restaurant menus warn us that there will be a bill to pay before we can leave.  Microsoft embraces this idea when it asks "Are you sure you want to delete this file? Y/N"  or  "Are you sure you want to send this document to the recycle bin? Y/N".

Why not extend that philosophy to this far more complex situation in SharePoint?  It's simple really - before booking that flight the ticket agent could ask, "Are you SURE you want to go to Newark? Y/N".

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