SharePoint Designer is now a free tool and available for download.

What does this mean really?

Anybody can download it and customize their SharePoint installations which is good in some ways, but really bad in others. If the users are not aware of what they are doing they can cause severe damage to your SharePoint, but it can also make really nice enhancements to their installation.

There are a lot of nice things you can do with SPD in your sites that you can’t do using the web interface. The web interface on the other side protects you pretty good from doing some mistakes that even the best can do once in a while, like dragging a file or folder to the wrong place. Of course all of this has been possible to do before with SPD, it’s not a new product, but suddenly you can expect a number of new and untrained end-users fire up the SharePoint Designer and customizing in ways you never prepared your installations for.

What should you do?

First of all make sure that you have the permissions correctly set up in your SharePoint environment and make sure that you have good (and working) backup and restore plans.

Secondly restrict the usage of SharePoint Designer by locking it down. Read this article from the SPD team on how to do it.

Then you should of course train them in SharePoint Designer and explain the pros and cons. Microsoft has a step-by-step training guide that can be downloaded.

What if I already purchased it?

If you have purchased SharePoint Designer 2007 and have Software Assurance coverage then you are eligible for Expression Web 2. Isn’t that sweet! Here are some more reading on the new SharePoint licensing.

System requirements!?

If you take a look at the System Requirements for SharePoint Designer, you see that it only supports Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP!?

SharePoint Designer System Requirements

Mistake or not, I don’t know? If anyone does please comment below. But I’ve “never” had any problems with it on Windows Vista or Windows 7.