Monday, October 19, 2009

Things To Get Excited About In SharePoint 2010

Now that Microsoft’s lifted the TAP NDA and is presenting SharePoint 2010 publicly at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, there will be a spurt of queued up blog posts on the net :)

Here are some things I’ve been very excited about, in no particular order. They are fairly developer-centric.

  • Ability to develop against the SharePoint dlls on a developer desktop! ‘Nuff said.
  • Developer Dashboard – makes it easy to see tracing information and web server details when you are working on a SharePoint site.
  • LINQ to SharePoint – this is some nice syntactic sugar that helps replace CAML a little bit. You can created strongly typed SharePoint entities using a utility called SPMetal and then query and manipulate the data in them using standard LINQ syntax. I was hopefully predicting this in another post.
  • Visual Studio 2010 integration – VS2010 will have a lot more tools to make SP2010 development a snap. SharePoint Project and Item Templates, Feature Designer, and Project Packaging, will hide most of the messy details of creating, packaging, and deploying a SharePoint solution from the developers.
  • Business Connectivity Services – the next level of the Business Data Catalogue. BCS uses External Content Types which look a bit like Content Types, and are defined in the new SharePoint Designer or in Visual Studio and then added to SharePoint using a definition file (a bit like the BDC currently works). Users can then create External Lists in their sites, which pull in the data from these external sources.
  • Client Object Model – an abstraction layer that allows developers to write code that will work in client .NET applications, Javascript (for AJAX type operations), and Silverlight. Basically this is a disconnected, batch-style API that will operate on the existing SharePoint web services and handle requests and responses using XML and JSON.
  • SharePoint 2010 Designer – Whereas SPD 2007 was a warmed-over FrontPage, the new version has been rebuilt with a focus purely on SharePoint. The new navigation panel is great because it shows you a list of SharePoint objects, such as Entities, Lists, Master Pages, and Workflows. What’s great about this is it keeps you thinking about what you are trying to do in SharePoint, rather than where that command used hidden in SPD. Another big win is you can export your SPD changes as a .WSP file straight into Visual Studio for further customization.
  • The Office Ribbon makes it into SharePoint. The Ribbon kind of grew on me in Office 2007. I think it was a clever paradigm to surface many commands that used to be buried. Now the many SharePoint menus and Site Action dropdowns will coalesce into the Ribbon. I think this will make training and support a little easier. The big weakness of the Ribbon is that you often have to remember which tab the commands belong in. I found that was the case with the new SharePoint Ribbon but after a little while you get used to it, and it becomes faster to modify SharePoint pages.
  • STSADM is dead, long live PowerShell! Leveraging the great new scripting environment is a huge win for SharePoint. The ability to write .NET code to manipulate the command pipeline means we will start to see some very powerful “no-touch” deployment and management options for SharePoint
  • More events – now you can find out when your web or list was created or deleted. This may sound like a small feature but this enables some provisioning and discovery scenarios that in SP2007 were not even possible!
  • Enterprise Metadata Manager. I’ve blogged a lot about the important of governance and centralizing metadata. The new Enterprise Metadata Manager makes it easy to import and manage term sets, keyword and tags.
  • Service Application Architecture – the Shared Service Provider was a good idea but it was a bit hard to use in practice. Under the new architecture, you can create Service Applications for things like Excel Services, Forms Services, Business Connectivity Services, and other services that you build or buy, and you can mix and match these in your farms as you like. The services get consumed by web front ends via a standard interface. This should allow a lot of plug-and-play customization of farms. I’m even wondering if there is an opportunity for vendors here…create some services and expose them to clients from the cloud.

There are some other big changes like Claims Based Authentication and Solution sandboxing which are intriguing to me. The Solution sandboxing feature gives me this sneaking suspicion we will one day soon see a Microsoft SharePoint App Store where we can buy, download and run SharePoint solutions in our farms.

Anyway, there’s a lot of exciting new stuff in SharePoint and I think SharePoint development is about to become really fun!

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