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SharePoint v. Next predictions

Information on upcoming changes SharePoint versions, whether they are full versions or service packs, is a matter of life and death for us developers and administrators that don't want to face mildly disconcerting surprises. Yet finding information on upcoming versions of SharePoint has been somewhat challenging historically - to say the least.

With SharePoint 2010 coming sometime late this year or early next year, a lot of people have started making informed guesses on changes and new features. Some of the guesses are based on announcements and conversations in conferences, some are based on slips by Microsoft employees, some on the semi-official warnings of SharePoint SP2's upgrade checker. Here are some of my guesses, including their sources.

  • Business Data Catalog will use a provider model to communicate with other systems. The current version requires a complicated XML configuration file with to communicate with other systems. The complexity of this file and lack of tooling means that it is often easier to create an intermediate web service to translate other systems' web service APIs to an API that is easy to work with BDC.
    Source: Slip by Microsoft presenter. During a presentation on the current version of BDC he said that BDC does have a provider model. The only reason to make such a mistake is that he mixed up current and next version features.
  • Surveys will allow you to create truly anonymous surveys. The current version keeps the username for each answer and displays * for anonymous surveys. Once you change the survey from anonymous to normal you can see all names.
    Source: Slip by Microsoft presenter. This is a bit unreliable though, as he probably didn't know how easy it is to find the names in an anonymous survey today.
  • Unmanaged core code will be replaced by managed code. The current version at its core uses COM+ and unmanaged code that requires explicitly releasing (or disposing in .NET speak) objects. This is a bit tricky and easy to forget, especially when you are coding against SharePoint's .NET API. This causes numerous resource leaks, not only in client code, but also in SharePoint's own .NET code.
    Source: Observations of other Office Server products. The latest versions of Project Server and Commerce Server moved from a mixture of .NET over COM+ core to full .NET code. It's time the product they depend on made this move as well.
  • Solution-based deployment will change - but I have no idea how. The current version of SharePoint is essentially un-cloudable. Scaling out is too difficult and costly. It requires not only installing SharePoint on a new server but also all custom code that was already installed on other machines. Provided, that is, that you are using domain accounts everywhere, including IIS anonymous accounts. Otherwise moving from a single WFE farm to multiple WFEs can be quite a bit trickier.
    Source: Observation on Microsoft's current push to the cloud. The current model requires hours if not days to provision a new server. The cloud demands minutes. I just hope the changes MS makes to accommodate SharePoint Online find their way to the SKUs as well.
  • LINQ to SharePoint, finally. But will it allow you to do everything CAML does, e.g. search the entire site hierarchy for items of a specific content type?
    Source: Conversations with Microsoft employees at Teched.
  • Maybe, the solution format will change as well. I'm just expressing a hope here. The current format is a barely documented, inconsistent nightmare. Tools like WSPBuilder make life a lot easier and Microsoft's own Visual Studio Extensions for WSS are finally catching up to WSPBuilder. Still, the solution format is a poor substitute for a proper Setup project.

Finally, a plea to Microsoft. Microsoft, please, PLEASE, don’t wait for the last moment to release SharePoint’s beta! The next version will have many changes and the last thing anyone wants is for major bugs to appear in the final product because there was no time to fix them.

Releasing betas early is absolutely essential as the development iterations for SharePoint related products seem to be rather long. It took almost two years to fix attachments in custom list forms. QA seems to have issues as well, as the trial activation bug in SharePoint Service Pack 2 demonstrates.

One thing is certain. A lot of people are willing to test and submit bugs for SharePoint. The SharePoint Connect site is flooded with bug reports, even though it was only activated last November to collect feedback on VSeWSS 1.3. There was no way for those bug reports to reach Microsoft before November. The only real alternative was to waste a support incident simply to report a bug report that would probably not get fixed for another year. Needless to say, many customers and partners chose not to report the bugs at all.

So PLEASE Microsoft, LET US HELP YOU!

Έχουν δημοσιευτεί Παρασκευή, 26 Ιουνίου 2009 10:11 πμ από το μέλος Παναγιώτης Καναβός
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# re: SharePoint v. Next predictions

Ότι θα γινόσουν και Espresso και θα κάνεις αποκαλύψεις δεν το περίμενα από εσένα...

Παρασκευή, 26 Ιουνίου 2009 3:40 μμ by George J. Capnias

Ποιά είναι η άποψή σας για την παραπάνω δημοσίευση;

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