So I attended the official SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas for the first time last week, and after a few days of contemplation I just want to try and summarize the experience and try to jot down some of the takeaways.
For an even better summary, check out my Colleague Anatoly’s summary over at Chuvash. =)
And while a lot of this may not be news, it’s still the impression I got from the conference. If it’s old news, it might just be a more clear sign that this is indeed the path Microsoft is on when it comes to SharePoint.
SharePoint and Office
So it’s been back and forth with SharePoint and Office since… well like forever. SP 2007 was called MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server), but then they removed SharePoint as a part of Office in 2010. Now they’re bringing it back, but of course (unless you haven’t noticed yet) as a part of the online version, Office 365 and SharePoint Online. Microsoft is (and this is not new for 2014) betting big on Office 365, and they aim to have SharePoint Online usage exceed SharePoint on premise usage by 2016. I won’t go in to a discussion on why you should or shouldn’t migrate to SharePoint Online, but it’s pretty clear what the Microsoft roadmap looks like. This was extremely obvious during the conference as the word SharePoint hardly appeared without an Office logo next to it, and many sessions were focused to SharePoint AND Office developers. The question is how well (or rather how fast) the SP community and businesses will accept and adopt it. What I do believe is no matter what you may feel about SharePoint Online and Office 365, everyone planning on using or developing SharePoint in the future have better to start learning the differences, and preparing on what a migration might require in the future. That said, there is still a lot happening with the platform, and it will probably have a lot less gaps in it in a year or two, as updates are pretty frequent.
App-solutely! (Oh no he didn’t!)
Bad jokes aside, the (SharePoint) Cloud App Model won’t just be a fluke, passing by if we just keep ignoring it. I know that a lot of developers (including myself) often get stuck on it’s flaws, and argue against using it in favor of our dear old sandboxed and farm solutions. But the planet of the apps is coming, and it’s not Microsofts “fault”. It’s just their version of a shift taking place in the entire space of web and application development. One of the main reasons (I think) for us developers having such trouble adopting it, is due to the fact that we once again have to handle a lot of things that were previously handled for us, like passing authentication tokens across domains and other tedious tasks. In short, it’s more difficult to develop some things using the App Model than using a good old visual webpart for example. But we need to learn how to do it, anyway. It’s not our choice, it’s not Microsofts choice (sort of). It’s just how it is.
AND… The App Model is still pretty new compared to “the good old stuff”, and it’s evolving all the time, as is the body of knowledge possessed by the SP community. It will get better, and easier to work with. For now, we just have to keep improving ourselves and learn all the new techniques and skills needed to be good little SP developers.
SharePoint is getting smaller
So we’ve seen it before. In SP 2013, a few services were cut loose, the recommendation to host them on individual servers. For example Office Web Apps (I know it was a separate product even in SP2010), Workflow Manager or Foundation or what’s it’s name, etc. This goes hand in hand with the architectural mindset of the App Model, and what’s happening in Office 365. Instead of having SharePoint as a big, bulky blob of a system slash platform slash product slash everything, Microsoft is taking the approach of detaching components from one another, having the possibility to connect them to each other instead. While this will require more configuration than before (just look at the Workflow engine), it provides a better architecture, providing better performance, stability, maintainability etc.
Side note: Developers can adopt this same mindset when building functions for their SharePoint portals, using the App Model. Building a function which runs separate from SharePoint, but is still used from within has a lot of benefits, and will go hand in hand with the path Microsoft is taking. So the next time you’re considering making yet another Visual WebPart, just give a few minutes of thought if it might not be better to build it as an app (and add about 500 % of development time to your project plan for learning how to build it, host it and use it).
Yes there will be another SP on premises released in 2015. Will give us some more time to adapt to O365. Yay!
SharePoint Dev = Web Dev
Being a good SharePoint developer is more and more becoming being a good Web developer. While scary for some, it’s not a bad thing. It means that we may benefit from a larger developer community, with all the benefits it brings. Plus, being a web developer is cool. Like… hipster cool (or?).
Conference available for all
So the entire conferences sessions (I think) will be available on Channel 9 for all to see, both videos and presentations. While some (douchebags) whine about spending $$$ plenty on actually attending the conference needlessly, I say HORAY! Knowledge should be free. I like the sharing Microsoft better. =)
Here is a short list of sessions I attended which I think were awesome, or simply informative.
Developer audience keynote | What’s new for the Office & SharePoint developer (If you want to see what Microsoft wants)
SharePoint Power Hour – New developer APIs and features for Apps for SharePoint
Adjust the perspective with responsive designs for SharePoint
Build your own REST service with WebAPI 2
Apps, BCS, OData, Search and O365…Oh My
Site provisioning techniques with SharePoint apps
Deep dive: REST and CSOM comparison
Best practices for maintaining and updating a SharePoint App