March 8, 2010

The Coming Storm – SharePoint 2010

It comes as no surprise that I’m excited about SP2010.  MOSS 2007 was an amazing product which introduced many great new features.  But like most things Microsoft, it typically takes a version or so to iron out the kinks and get it just right (think Windows Vista to Windows 7).  SP2010 is no exception, however, I believe that the code jockeys in Redmond have done an overwhelmingly superb job at refining SharePoint for its 2010 offering.

The basic set of features remain mostly unchanged in their function with the exception of a VERY nice (and HTML compliant) facelift.  You’ll still find lists and libraries.  However, what you will find different is the innate ability to customize EVERYTHING out of the box.  In SPS2010, darn near everything is an InfoPath form.  More basically – darn near everything is a collection of XML and XSL.  My friend Tanner would tell you that Microsoft’s implementation of XML and XSL to create InfoPath is disgustingly ugly, but true to Microsoft form, they have ‘embraced and extended’ it to a higher degree of function.  Most Office folks that are running SP2010 will have InfoPath client available to them and so customizing the forms is as simple as editing a Word document.

Next, some of the newest MOSS 2007 features that didn’t gain a great deal of traction are really first class citizens now in SP2010.  Up at the top of the list is the Business Data Catalog, which is now known as Business Connectivity Services.  In MOSS 2007, BDC was a read only SharePoint interface to external LOB systems, like database’s.  This was all fine and good, but who wants to do read only!  BCS in 2010 promotes external content types to full CRUD feature sets!  This is huge.

InfoPath Form Services and Excel Calculation services were a great starting point for web enabled Office content.  They did a decent job of taking a standard Office doc and rendering them in the browser.  I called it back in 2007 when these services were announced but I wouldn’t be able to cite records to prove it, but I knew Office Web Apps were coming – and here they are.  The ability to have Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote (along with IPFS) render and EDIT directly in the browser will usher in a new era of collaboration.  It is truly a great thing to see such good fidelity between on prem clients and cloud clients.

There are tons more features that I want to talk about, and I’m sure I will in the coming months as we countdown to the Office and SP 2010 (and VS!) launches on May 12, but I’ll wrap up by including a link to a great reference article from Jason Piccola’s blog that lists out the out of the box SPS 2010 web parts to wet your whistle.  You can find the article here.  Mmmmm – embedded video content types with a SilverLight control.