A couple of interesting new tools have come into the community in the past week, both designed to extend the capabilities of SharePoint.

One, from SharePoint AMS, is a shopping cart that can give any external-facing SharePoint website e-commerce functionality. According to Sean Bordner, founder of the company, the sharepointcart.com offering can provide “a ton of public-facing sites” the ability to handle financial transactions. Deriving some features from both Amazon.com and Shopify.com, SharePoint Cart—built entirely on SharePoint—can update prices while an item sits in a shopping cart, and allows purchasers to ship, for example, 10 different items to 10 different locations during checkout.

Further, Bordner said, no credit information is stored in the tool. “None of it ever touches the SharePoint server,” he said. “We do it with tokens.”

Bordner said that prior to this release, folks who wanted to do e-commerce on a SharePoint site had to use Microsoft Commerce Server, which he said Microsoft pulled the plug on. Besides, he noted, “That was a tough animal to wrestle with.”

The second tool—more specifically a Web Part—was released this week into beta by Lightning Tools. Called Lightning Chart Web Part, it enables users to send and receive instant messages within a SharePoint Team Site environment, according to the website. The Web Part enables SharePoint users to see which of their colleagues are online and in the Team Site environment, and features a very simple interface for typing and reading messages.

Also, if more than one discussion is going on in the Web Part, users can create a focused “chat room” for their conversation. Any messages can be archived, with a Microsoft SQL database used for storage.

These are just two more examples of how the third-party community around SharePoint plays a tremendous role in giving licensees the ability to customize and enhance their implementations.