Having read a few of the posts around and the comments to said posts as well as on forums, I can’t help but feel this discussion is taking on a “developer vs non-developer” view. From the developers standpoint you have the opinions like that of Bjorn’s who think that past atrocities perpetrated by power users that are sufficient reason to take away the core of their power… design view. Common arguments for the power users, such as those posed by Marc, range from the increased barrier to entry for non-developer types (the task of debugging XSL has been made extremely difficult for developers meaning its virtually impossible for non-developers) to the inflated budgetary requirements (due to the need for more developers).
The problem I take with these arguments is that they concentrate on this whole “developer vs non-developer” argument. To be perfectly honest, on this playing field the developers have it. The rubbish solutions that the deign view has helped contribute to is a pretty solid reason to remove it as developers are the ones that should be doing any kind of development. Although I do agree with this sentiment, my argument exists on a different field. The argument I make is one of negotiation. Of course this argument only works if you are an ethical consultant not looking to take your client’s to the cleaners. I’m actually a massive optimist in the human spirit so for the purposes of this post I’m going to assume you too are not looking to rip off your client.
For my consultancy (Seven Sigma Business Solutions but soon to be Inovus), governance is at the forefront of everything we do. A huge part of this is training of power and end users. In our consultancy the argument of “rubbish solutions” is really a null argument as we will setup a simple development environment (a development site collection typically) in which the power users first create their SharePoint Designer based solutions. This gives them a chance to learn but also provides us with a way to govern their solutions before they have a chance to go into production thus providing some level of quality control.
This learning process is extremely important to delivering good solutions because ultimately the users are the ones that understand their business the best. One of the toughest challenges I have faced as a consultant is the whole “the customer is always right” mentality. Whilst correct, the meaning has been sorely manipulated. The customer is only always right if they have all the right information and often they are very poorly informed or are sorely misguided. Once they see the limitations of SharePoint with their own eyes and understand the difficulties, it means we can then proceed to negotiate for the best solution. This solution often not only requires configuration/development of SharePoint but also cultural/process change within the organisation itself. To put it simply, Microsoft has now removed the greatest learning tool I had for helping non-development users grasp the complexities involved with developing innovative, user-targeted solutions in SharePoint. By removing this learning tool all developers are going to suffer as they now have one less weapon in their belts that they can negotiate with.