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Sharepoint 2010: prayers answered… sort of

The  SharePoint  2010 is coming!.. In fact, it is almost here – the rumour has is that beta was already released to MSDN subscribers last Wednesday (10/21/2009, that is). Not a revolutionary upgrade in a sense that SP2007 was to SP2003, but a major milestone nevertheless.

The interest in the product speaks for itself - the conference 2009 was sold out - and that's 7,000+ attendees! I was a bit surprised to see that many people  from Europe - for some reason there were Danes at every turn - but I've also met folks from France, Germany, England, Spain, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Israel... there were quite few Kiwis and Aussies, Brazilians and Argentineans..

Having inherited a team of hard core Java developers I am facing quite a challenge to help them in transition to proficient Sharepoint ones. I wish I could fly all of them to Las Vegas, just to feel the energy in the room, attend all sponsored events (yes, free drinks included), and see elegancy of some solutions! This would be the best way to assure them of an interesting and profitable career path... Damn these budget cuts!

Apparently, Microsoft heard the developers community, or, maybe, lusted after the fat profits that third party vendors made patching the holes left in the MOSS 2007... But the biggest improvements for me came from the developer's perspective. The biggest gripe about Sharepoint development came from the fact that it is not a development environment. It is very painful to code against, debug and deploy in Sharepoint 2007, not to mention absence of testing framework (there are third party tools, to be sure), and then this insistence on using VSTS... (no, you do not need it – we are developing with VS2008 Professional). I am happy to report that SP2010 and Visual Studio 2010 have addressed this problem. Beginning from 2010, one can develop decent workfl0ws in Sharepoint 2010, and still maintain sanity (most of the time). First, you can develop on Windows 7 or Windows Vista SP1 (64 bit only, of course); no need for sluggish clunky VM that hogging down your computer (btw: you can boot to VHD, if you'd like to keep your SP development separate from the rest of your work). Second: no more add-in packages to do development in Visual Studio , no multiple deployment steps to install and activate provisioning code - it all built in; no SDK, no missing references.. Finally:  you can deploy from within Visual Studio (God, I missed this one!), and you can debug your stuff without jumping through additional hoops.

A big thing: WSP now can be created in SharePoint Designer (still free), and edited  in Visual Studio (and vice versa). Finally.

BDC are now BDS - business data services, and are better than ever. You can combine data from different data sources into a single consistent interface. Oh, and don't forget the ability to create EXTERNAL lists. Sharepoint 2010 is all about RESTful services, and json; a novel way to provide and consume data; ability to create lists with multiple columns is very welcomed, too.

I am very intrigued by Access Services in Sharepoint 2010; I see how it can help me to track down every pesky MS Access app crawling in the enterprise, and manage them centrally. Very cool (more about it later).

LINQ is staging a comeback. After hinting that it will be deprecated in favor of Entity Framework, Microsoft again puts it at the heart of data interfaces. Virtually every demo that made use of data did it through LINQ; and it was prominently displayed on the slides presented by the m'softies. Something to think about.

All in all, it appears that our prayers (and curses) has been heard.