May 4, 2016

SharePoint Dev Kitchen 2016

I was really happy when I heard that the embargo was being lifted on the current SharePoint development stuff, and I could finally tell the wolrd about the amazing SharePoint Dev Kitchen experience of this past March in Brussels. An invitation only -event for SharePoint dev community, the bootcamp was full of people with ideas, views and passion, and the core of the Microsoft SharePoint team.

The big meeting room was buzzing with electricity as we all settled into our seats to hear what the SharePoint team wished to share with us. The preparation emails had given but a little hint on what was happening in our SharePoint world. 

When the keynote ended, I felt a whoosh of delight. The SharePoint team was not only being candid with us but also looking to get feedback, thoughts and ideas from us who crowded the room. Still, the most exciting thing was the message [NOTE: this is purely PRE-RELEASE info]:

SharePoint is going towards more and more open source coding
Instead of doing a whole lot of behind the scenes closed-cirquit development, the SharePoint team has adopted the usage of JavaScript libraries and frameworks that enable the third-party developers to create add-ins and solutions for SharePoint with any JavaScript framework they wish to use.  
Mobile leads development
They were pretty clear on this one. All develoment is done mobile first. Not desktop first keeping mobile in mind but actually mobile first, then desktop experienve. 
SharePoint Home
If I had a euro for each time a customer has asked me: "But where's the SharePoint here in O365? There's only this Sites... is that it? But how do I find my workspaces if I haven't followed them?" As far as I understood, SharePoint Home will asnwer this question once and for all. It's where SharePoint is, it's where the workspaces are. 
A lot of nice new features are coming to SharePoint
Document libraries will get a bunch of new features. Publishing sites will get a new page model as an addition to the current one (i.e. the current publishing pages aren't going anywhere; your data is safe) with the feel of Sway to them - adding modules (or cotnrols or web parts, whatever the name will be) to a page canvas (or several). Publishing sites will get a gallery of these modules - new web parts - that are fully JavaScript based. 
Office UI Fabric
In addition to this new more open way of developing for SharePoint, Microsoft is providing a "fabric" of CSS and (HTML) controls for unified look and feel of any app or add-in that made for Office environments. It provides a grid for responsive design, fonts, animations etc. to be used freely - but no one is forcing it either.

One thing the Microsoft people really emphasized: the old way is not going away; this new model simply enable more.

Dev Kitchen was a very social three day "training". Sure, Microsoft people were giving sessions on what they are working on, the technologies that are used and there were hands-on labs to try out the things in a test environment. However, there was also a lot of discussion of ideas and questions and priorities and wishes and whatnot. There were a lot of people already getting their hands dirty with the new stuff, trying out real life scenarios and showing their work in demo sessions. 

Now the team is ready to come out with the stuff, but this is only the beginning. A lot is brewing in the SharePoint Dev Kitchen and it will be truly interesting to see the outcome! 

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