Microsoft Cloud Show ep 127: The Future of SharePoint

Microsoft's Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco showcases direction for SharePoint with deep-dive pre-recorded videos available.

Today Microsoft held their Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco, CA. This is primarily a vision event where you can see the direction Microsoft is taking SharePoint. If you missed the event, you can checkout the recording as well a bunch of deep-dive pre-recorded videos.

The Office blog has a bunch of information related to today’s event:

As you’ve no doubt seen there are tons of people blogging about the event and announcements.

Listen On My Podcast, the Microsoft Cloud Show

Earlier this week I interviewed former long-time SharePoint MVP & Director of Marketing for SharePoint for Microsoft Dan Holme on our podcast. My co-host Chris Johnson also offered some insights that we had from the announcements this week… check it out:

A Few Thoughts…

As someone who built a career on this product, SharePoint has a special place with me. I’ve lived mostly in the development space as in core development or Web Content Management (WCM) in SharePoint going back to when I first jumped in with SharePoint Portal Server 2003. In recent years, Microsoft hasn’t done much with SharePoint, but things changed recently. Jeff Teper was brought back to refocus the group.

Today you saw lots of new user experiences with new features in team sites, a new mobile app and improvements to useability. I welcome these improvements and attention. Its long overdue and I look forward to seeing what things they do over the coming months and year.

One thing I’m really curious about is the SharePoint Framework, a new development model that I linked to above…

SharePoint Framework - A New Development Model for Developers

I had the opportunity to see this early on in its conceptualization. I like how Microsoft is addressing challenges we have had with the multiple development models in the past. Check out the blog post I linked to above. There’s also a video by Microsoft’s Dan Kogan who owns this effort that explains it.

The idea, in a nutshell, is that developers can build fully client-side applications. There are parts to make working with data easier as well as with extending client-side stuff. You can take over the entire screen… lots of stuff that was only possible with fully trusted code in the past.

Earlier this year Microsoft invited developers in to work with their new development model in two DevKitchens. I wasn’t there so check out what some of the people who were there speak about it in their own words:

The concern I have is that we’re looking at yet another development model. This is the fourth model that’s supposed to address the challenges of the previous version. Features & solutions were introduced in SharePoint 2007. Sandbox solutions were introduced in SharePoint 2010. Apps, later renamed to Addins, were introduced today (2016). I’m curious to see what the average customer’s reaction is from this new model.

Is it better than the last one? Well that remains to be seen because it’s not out yet, but the promises are quite good. I like the embrace of client-side dev for cross-platform developers. However there are a few questions that remain to be seen:

  • Will existing SharePoint developers embrace this new development model?
  • Will non-SharePoint developers finally get interested and embrace it, coming to the platform?
  • Will existing SharePoint developers show fatigue and lose faith in yet another reset?

Where do I Stand on the SharePoint Framework?

It’s too early to say anything about it. It is not even out to pass judgement on the hard work the team has done… I’ll wait until we get to have a play with it later this summer into the fall. I do like how they are embracing current development trends, cross platform development and all types of developers. I’m looking forward to having a chance to play with everything.

However, there’s something I have a problem with… it’s the attitude and way they are going about it. I know this won’t earn me any fans at Microsoft, but I’m just being honest.

Last year I wrote a post that got a bit of attention: Developers: SharePoint isn’t a Platform, SharePoint is a Service. Unfortunately I see this as yet another iteration of that… yet another development model. Not just another dev model, but one from a product team that has a consistent track record of stopping all work on the old models and introducing something that’s so different from the past every three (3) years.

I think every dev team looking to extend SharePoint should ask themselves: “should we bet on this new model?” That’s not a question I can answer for you. All the old development models still work today (granted, farm solutions won’t work in Office 365). You’ve got to figure out what’s best for you & your team.

For me, I’ll sit back and wait. I want to have a play with the new model.

… but on the point of yet another SharePoint dev model…

You know… the fourth (4) in four (4) versions…

But there is one thing I can say for certain: Microsoft’s SharePoint team has shown to be 100% consistent in being inconsistent in their development guidance. I don’t fault them for innovating… I applaud them for that. What I do fault them for is not having a story from one model to the next model. They don’t iterate and improve… they abandon and start anew.

I think this is a perfectly fair questions: After three times, why should I trust you? Why shouldn’t I just create applications that live somewhere else that’s independent of SharePoint?

Those are tough questions I think they should answer. They are warranted, fair and customers deserve to know.

Frankly, if you want to be a development platform which you clearly do, you need to show you’re going to stick it out and help developers… not keep hitting reset. One or two times I get. Three times… four different development models in four consecutive releases… not good.

Andrew Connell
Developer & Chief Course Artisan, Voitanos LLC. | Microsoft MVP
Written by Andrew Connell

Andrew Connell is a web & cloud developer with a focus on Microsoft Azure & Microsoft 365. He’s received Microsoft’s MVP award every year since 2005 and has helped thousands of developers through the various courses he’s authored & taught. Andrew’s the founder of Voitanos and is dedicated to helping you be the best Microsoft 365 web & cloud developer. He lives with his wife & two kids in Florida.

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