It may take some time before we can see the first of SharePoint 15 (or some might say SharePoint 2013).
Till that time, Microsoft has released some technical documentation in the form of an API. It’s far from complete, I hope, but it gives us a bit insight in the new features of the new SharePoint.
There are a few interesting features that we can trace from this API. You can find the API here http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28768. But for the one that’s too lazy to disassemble the API himself, beneath is a summary of expected features.
Game changing features
In the API there’s one feature that has the upper hand, the Apps. It’s also very certain that a marketplace is coming. There will not only be a general marketplace, but it will also be possible to have a corporate catalog (apps only available within the corporate).
These new SharePoint Apps are not just web parts, or any other kind of SharePoint solution we know from the current versions of SharePoint. An App is a new solution format that comes with SharePoint 15. A few advantages of Apps, we know so far, are:
- It’s very suitable for a traditional application structure, with multiple pages, theming, configuration, an own database, etc.
- developers can add an own deployment (installation, upgrade, uninstall, etc.)
- a database (MSSQL, and other formats) can be attached
- it has its own user permissions
- it has its own licensing
This is a big step for Microsoft, but also very understandable. Nowadays it seems that the entire society is relying on apps and marketplaces from all kinds of vendors. Microsoft already Marketplaced the Windows Phone, Windows 8 is coming, but they would be stupid if they didn’t also do this for SharePoint. With the Windows Phone Marketplace they were relatively late, but with the SharePoint Marketplace they are just on time. Using Marketplaces for business purposes is very hot at the moment. I can’t wait to get to work with this.
Minimal Download Strategy is a term that probably doesn’t ring any bells. That’s right, it’s a new framework Microsoft includes in the next SharePoint. It’s mentioned very briefly in the API but I think it’s a big deal.
So, what is it? MDS allows websites to take much less bandwidth than with traditional technologies. It’s a technology that allows websites to only send the changed part of the page, relative to the previous page, to the client. If you assume that a website has a header, footer, menu, right column and some content, and navigating to another page only changes the content part, then MDS will take care that only the content will be transferred from the server to the client. This way, not only the bandwidth is used more efficiently, but the pages will be more responsive.
For more info on MDS read this: http://blog.furuknap.net/minimal-download-strategy-in-sharepoint-2013
We know we can version documents and list items, but in the next SharePoint we are also able to version entire parts of SharePoint. An entire site for instance. Fascinating! But whats the big advantage? Well, here it comes. Let’s assume that we already have a site and we would like to make big changes to it, how will we do that? In the current SharePoint we would have to copy the site (preferable to another environment), implement changes and deploy it back. While in SharePoint 15 we could freeze the active version, then create a new version, implement changes to that new version and when done, set the active version to the new site we changed. My guess is that Microsoft did add this feature mainly for SharePoint Online, because most clients don’t have a separate acceptance environment. Deploying this way fits perfectly in a DTAP roadmap for Cloud solutions.
As a developer you can now get a themed version of your CSS that uses the theme colors and styles, with a simple line of code.
Client Object Model
The Client Object Model is extended with Search. The functionality corresponds to that of Microsoft.Office.Server.Search we know from the current SharePoint Object Model.
Features nobody gives a sh*t about
I also found several new features that probably won’t interest a living soul. But because I do want to mention it, I will make a short notice of their presence:
- It will be possible to get more info about crawled contents and status of crawls, programatically.
- Users can now edit a file if it’s exclusively locked by someone else and likely merge it later.
- To get files from BLOB, SharePoint now has streams.
- In the current Client Object Model you would have to add a Form Digest control to be able to talk to SharePoint. In the next version that isn’t necessary anymore, it then can be configured on the ClientContext.