SharePoint is back, SharePoint is beautiful … even for developers!

Just a few minutes ago Jeff Teper and the whole SharePoint Product Team announced some great news about the future of SharePoint!

Let’s start from the main announcement – from a developer perspective, of course.
As expected, the future of SharePoint will be mobile-first and cloud-first, and there is a new SharePoint Framework that will allow developers to create custom solutions, which will be based on client-side JavaScript, which will be developed with any (literally ANY) development platform on any development device, which will completely integrate with the new mobile-first and cloud-first UI and UX of the new SharePoint Framework.

As a developer I’m really excited about the shared news, but I’m also carefully thinking about the future of development in SharePoint Online and on-premises. In fact – at a first sight – someone could think: “Hey! They changed the development model, again!”. Moreover, as an experienced .NET and server-side developer I could be scared or at least worried about my future.

BUT I’M NOT SCARED AND I’M NOT WORRIED! I AM REALLY EXCITED! And you should, as well 🙂 … Let me share with you the reason why!

First of all, think about some of the most frequently asked questions when you collect requirements for a new Office 365 project or solution, which includes SharePoint workloads:

  • Branding of the solution without loosing the integration with the Office 365 ecosystem
  • Responsive UI and capability to consume the site from any device
  • Capability do easily edit contents, without having to be a web developer and without having to use SharePoint Designer or any other tool
  • Capability to create integrated solutions that can show and manage contents coming from SharePoint, and data coming from somewhere else (databases, BI, HR, CRM, etc.)
  • High availability of the solution and architecture of custom developments resilient to changes

These are just few of the most frequently requested capabilities… and often in real projects they are painful or at least not always that easy to satisfy.

With the new development model we will be able to create modern solutions, responsive, light and fast with out of the box tools, without any additional effort to achieve most of the above requirements. We will simply have to focus on the real goal, and we will get all the other stuff from the framework. We will be able to have the chrome control with branding and custom commands, completely integrated with the Office 365 ecosystem, as well as open to customization, if needed. Within the body of the pages we will have canvas and the new Client WebParts (or whatever will be the name), which will be the key element for creating customization which are properly integrated with the ecosystem. And if a new Part is not enough and you need to provide a full page experience to your users, you can consider creating a Client-Side Page, which will give you full control on the entire page, still having all the potentials of the new model.

However, in order to develop solutions for the new model you will probably have to learn some new technologies – as long as you don’t know them already – like JavaScript, TypeScript, AngularJS, etc. and you will have to learn how to play with new tools like Node.js, Gulp, Yeoman, and many others.

Let me say: having something new to learn is always good, because you can grow up!

But, don’t think that everything out there from now on will have to be done using JavaScript or TypeScript or AngularJS. I mean, the new WebParts or the Client-Side Pages will be made using the latest UI frameworks, as they deserve to be. On the other side, real business level solutions will still need to leverage server-side services and infrastructures, which most likely will be the Microsoft Graph and the SharePoint REST API, but also custom REST API developed with .NET and the Client Side Object Model. These custom REST API will probably be hosted on Azure App Services, and will be able to be consumed not only by the new model, but also by the Logic Flow apps, just for the sake of making an example. Security (in terms of Authentication and Authorization) will be still guaranteed by Microsoft Azure Active Directory and OAuth 2.0.

Moreover, you will still need to create asynchronous engines, for example based on a blob storage queue and a Web Job still hosted in Azure, for managing long-running tasks, which have to be executed in background, with high availability and scalability.

Thus, to wrap up this short “mind sharing” post: the future of SharePoint is bright, because the new UI of SharePoint is amazing, and will improve the quality of end users’ life, as well as the overall quality of custom developed solutions, and the time to market of solutions. We – as modern developers – will have to stay up to date with our knowledge, as we should always have to be. But, what we are used to do in the fields of SharePoint development is still there, and if we designed properly our solutions from an architectural and from a topology perspective, the new model will only improve the overall quality of the result.

So, SharePoint is back, SharePoint is beautiful … even for developers!

For further details about the future of SharePoint, you can see the following articles/blogs/videos: