Friday, October 7, 2011

SharePoint Conference 2011 - Final Thoughts

So here I am, sitting at the airport going back to Denver. It’s been a whirlwind week here in Anaheim, CA. We had the RBA consulting private party last night which was attended by quite a few clients as well as Microsoft folks. Jared Spataro, who delivered the keynote at the conference and Matt Berg who ran the conference, was also in attendance which was pretty cool. I did chat for quite a while with Bill Baer from Microsoft, who owns the SharePoint Foundation product. We talked about Remote Blob Storage strategies (he had just presented earlier that evening on that topic), as well as where SharePoint is and where it is going. I also had the opportunity to talk with Ted Pattison, Andrew Connell and Todd Baginskiwho apart from being MVP’s have been involved with SharePoint for a while.

So here are my personal thoughts about the writing on the wall at this year’s conference. The next wave of SharePoint is going to be a revolution, not an evolution in terms of how we do things and think about the development paradigm and practices. Code/customizations you do in the current release will continue to work in the next release, but they will not utilize the benefits of the new platform. So what technologies can you sharpen your skills on to get ready for the next release? The few areas in my mind are:

1.      SharePoint Online + Azure
There were some good sessions on SharePoint Online and its integration with Azure. With Azure, you can host your custom applications and databases up in the Microsoft cloud and access them that way. Another major advantage of the Azure model is that it has a service bus that can interact with data into your organization’s data center. This, coupled with the ability of SharePoint Online to talk to Azure provides you a model to get back into your data sitting back in your datacenter. This also leads into #2 below, because the way to connect with Azure is through client side object model (sandboxed code cannot call outside the site collection). Another big announcement was that BCS will be supported in the public cloud soon.

2.       jQuery/Javascript and other client side technologies.
jQuery is a literally a set of Javascript libraries that allow you to do things way more efficiently than just using plain Javascript. jQuery also works across browsers seamlessly – so you write it once and it works as expected. There were a few sessions that talked about jQuery (with HTML5, best practices etc.)

3.       Social Aspects
There were a few sessions that talked about the social features of SP 2010. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend any of these but this is one area that Microsoft will continue to invest heavily in – so this will keep getting better and better.

A note on HTML5 vs Silverlight
Ted Pattison covered a session on jQuery with HTML5. HTML5 looks pretty promising with its ability to build pretty cool UX elements – but in terms of the browser experience it still has quite ways to go. The HTML5 specifications are not fully developed yet, so you have to embed different tags for every browser. Plus, if you want to target older browsers then it’s even more effort required. So bottom line, this is coming but not ready for primetime for the browser experience.

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