The number one rule in life for author Robert Fulghum is to "Share everything." Your Force.com application is one place where it’s okay to break that rule and not share everything. That’s why Force.com allows developers and administrators to control access to data at many different levels. You can control access at the object-level, the record-level and even at the field-level. In the vast majority of cases, the appropriate Force.com sharing settings can be defined declaratively by simply pointing and clicking. In some cases, developers may need the ability to define even more sophisticated sharing settings, and this is where Apex Managed Sharing comes in.
Apex Managed Sharing allows you to use Apex Code to build sophisticated and dynamic sharing settings that aren’t otherwise possible. For example, a developer can use Apex Managed Sharing to write a trigger that will automatically share a custom object record with a user that has been specified in a lookup field. You can also use Apex Managed Sharing to write custom Visualforce controllers that implement your sharing logic.
After an introduction to sharing, the accompanying article looks at the components of Apex Managed Sharing, and how you can use Apex Managed Sharing in your own applications. The article, Using Apex Managed Sharing to Create Custom Record Sharing Logic, also provides sample code for the trigger described above.