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What does SharePoint 2013 mean to the Visual Studio Developer Ninjas?

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2012-07-27-Ninjas-01.jpgJeff Teper has concerned some community folk after Mike Watson posted something in the SharePoint Yammer community that pointed to a comment made around “Use SharePoint as an out-of-box application whenever possible…I've seen many SharePoint deployments where they would have been better off out of box and with the new UI we want to be really clear on that”. Wictor Wilen (MCM, MVP) made a great comment on this “that blog post and statement will be with us for a long time and for us dealing with clients the "We encourage you not to modify it [...]" will really impact the business for SharePoint 2013”. And the definition of “out-of-the-box” is not restricted to just Visual Studio Development…we are talking JavaScript and HTML 5 tinkering too…all put the UI at risk for upgrades and operation supportability which is where Jeff is coming from.

Jeff does state “there will also be places where people write code which we want to support better in the new model but also want to encourage folks to be thoughtful about their code”…I’m kind of taken a back here. We’ve always been thoughtful of any customization…but the problem is…the platform can be customized and as much as you push back on customers asking for changes to the UI…they’ll pay for it and won’t care on your warnings. I for one am scared of the new NAPA framework, introduced by Jason Zander, that easily lets power users put together JavaScript code to manipulate the UI…that is Pandora’s Box a lot more so than SharePoint Designer in my opinion.

“ASP.NET is dead”

Doug Ware (MVP) has written up a great post on his opinions on what the new SharePoint 2013 preview means for developers. I think he’s a bit bold in saying “ASP.NET is dead”, considering the new remote-hosted app model encourages you to build web applications remotely from SharePoint platform.

To Doug’s point, a lot of the new UI stuff is back-ended by some pretty slick JavaScript and HTML5 elements in the 15 hive (root folder/whatever you want to bloody call it!). I’ve been saying for a long time, and to be honest, joined this march late…considering Marc Anderson (of SPServices fame) has been banging the JavaScript drum for a long time. As a managed code guy, I hated the thought of coding in client side language, one article that really helped me was by a British guy called Ben Padbury.

Getting you off of server-side object model

Ted Pattison also makes some good comments about Microsoft wanting to get you off server-side object model, mainly because Microsoft don’t want your code running in processes running on the SharePoint farm and therefore increasing the stability…especially for their Multi-Tenancy Office 365 environments. Ted also states the other reason is that the server-side object model was often a pain when upgrading to the new major version of SharePoint. I’m not necessarily sure that moving the customizations out to the new App model is going to solve this…after all, they are still going to be calling the client-side object model and that will change. Vendors are already witnessing issues as Office 365 SharePoint Online has updates that are affecting the expected results back from the client-side object model.

You can still write in server-side managed code in the new Apps…although you will be coding against the SharePoint .NET client-side object model and not the SharePoint .NET server-side object model, as you won’t be executing the code on the SharePoint server but a remote one (either Azure or something else). The only way now to write SharePoint .NET server-side object model managed code is to stick with Full-Trust solutions OR Sandboxed Solutions (limited) which unfortunately WON’T be in the marketplace.

Doug also points out that SharePoint 2013 preview also is now on .NET 4.0 rather than 3.5. I completely understand why the product team didn’t do this in the 2010 release as .NET 4.0 release dates were almost in parallel. The only product team brave enough to do that was the Project Server team who built in parallel to SharePoint Server 2010. Stephane Eyskens’s blog has a great overview of some of the .NET 4.0 features that you probably haven’t even looked at before with your Visual Studio hat on. So if you do write with the Solution model, you can now use .NET 4.0.

Who has the bucks for business solutions?

Rob Windsor (MVP) also makes a great point that “all bets are on” in the cloud for Office 2013 and that the “Solution model” (e.g. Full-Trust Solutions and Sandboxed Solutions) are being treated as deprecated features in this platform based on the voice of the TechNet and MSDN articles being published around the App model on “getting started with SharePoint 2013 development”. I do tend to agree, and have already voiced my concerns that the majority of EPG customers that are going to want to pay for development won’t be in Multi-Tenant environments and will be in Full-Control environments. Therefore in most cases, Full-Trust solutions will make sense.

Also, remember that the App model for Full-Control environments does not support OAuth because it doesn’t support Azure’s Access Control Services (ACS), so you have to use High-Trust apps which come with some more complexity.

Future-proofing environments

The debate on whether to “future-proof” environments for Multi-Tenant becomes HUGE. Eventually I think the cost that was incurred in future-proofing business solutions by building them as Sandboxed Solutions rather than going with Full-trust Solutions burnt a lot of people. The reason for this is because the effort involved to code around limitations of Sandboxed Solutions was extremely high and in some cases simply couldn’t be done putting limitations on business solutions. I suspect a lot of large EPG customers will continue to push with Full-Trust Solutions with the mindset that they’ll be in Full-Control environments for a long time to come.

Doug has also pointed out in another post another statement that is reminiscent of the Sandboxed Solution introduction of “develop X whenever you can”. The reality is if you already know how to smash out a Full-Trust Solution, why take the time to learn how to build Apps, much like the argument we had on learning Sandboxed Solutions.

More competition

Where Visual Studio SharePoint Developers were raking in the bucks in 2007 and 2010 world…I believe this shift to the App Model will definitely make the market more competitive. As people with HTML5/JavaScript, ASP.NET MVC, LAMP etc. skills will now be able to build remote-hosted web applications and build a very simple app package to point to this that can be submitted to the marketplace. The only learning curve for them is going to be the SharePoint client-side object model and some understanding of the building blocks available to them in the app subsite such as Lists/Libraries and everything that comes with that. This won’t happen instantly, but I used to work at a very strong .NET house that loathed SharePoint, and can now see them happily building EVERYTHING in the remote web application with very little integration and getting it in the marketplace.

Wrap Up

So as a Visual Studio SharePoint Developer writing on server-side SharePoint object managed code…personally I think you have no choice but to get your teeth into JavaScript/HTML5 and the SharePoint Client-Side Object Model if you haven’t already. This new wave will certainly put pressure on you, I don’t see EPG customers jumping to Multi-Tenant environments straight away but you can certainly bet in the next two years it’ll start to happen and the server-side object model won’t be an answer.

Please make sure you check out my social bookmarks on all things SharePoint 2013 and development and if that’s too much, try my 5 star rated posts sub set.

Categories: SPF 2013; Visual Studio; dev

Comments

Louis

Opening up to standards

Great article Jeremy I think there are many interesting bets in the move towards a rich-client/service backend architecture with SP2013. It should make it easier for ISVs to penetrate enterprise farms if their app model implicitly requires less trust (no server-side code); It makes SharePoint's role as an application platform more versatile since you can now completely detach the UI from the data; As you point out it opens up development to a whole new group of web developers; It should speed up prototyping for sure with powerful frameworks like KnockoutJS. Farm solutions are certainly not dead yet, it will be a couple of years before SP2013 is widespread. But everything on the web is going the way of the cloud and remote-hosted apps, so why not get a good start right now! Can't wait to have more time to play with it!

Posted 01-Aug-2012 by Louis
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