Over the years, I’ve dipped in and out of SharePoint several times and, last week, I took myselfÂ along to the Edge user group‘s meeting at Microsoft’s London offices to listen to SharePoint MVP, Dave McMahon, talk about what’s coming in SharePoint 2010.
Before looking at the various product editions, it’s worth recapping on the current situation:
- Office SharePoint Designer 2007 is the client productÂ (derived from Front Page) that allows SharePoint designers full access to product functionality for development purposes.
- Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0Â is aÂ single server installation, offered free of charge to licensed Windows Server users.
- Office SharePoint server (MOSS) 2007 is the full product that allows enterprise deployment with farms of SharePoint servers.
For SharePoint 2010, the line-up looks like this:
- Office SharePoint Designer 2010, which hasÂ had aÂ major makeover.
- SharePoint Foundation 2010, providing the core components to run a SharePoint site.
- SharePoint Server 2010,Â equivalent to MOSS 2007.
- SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites,Â offers theÂ same functionality as SharePoint Server 2010 but withÂ a different licensing model.
- SharePoint Workspace 2010 is another client application, previously known as OfficeÂ Groove.
Dave explained some of the changes in SharePoint 2010, looking at the technology from an infrastructure perspective:
- In common with many Microsoft server products, SharePoint 2010 will only be available as a 64-bitÂ edition.
- There’s native support for SQL mirroring.
- SharePoint 2010 is fully resilient and scalable (although that sounds likeÂ marketing rhetoric, Dave says itÂ is true!)
- SharePoint “solutions” (deployed custom codeÂ as a CAB file with an XML manifest)Â will be sandboxed to prevent unintentional impact on other parts of the SharePoint infrastructure (each solution runs as a separate process and is shut down if doesn’t meet performance criteria), moving the responsibility for fixing custom code that impacts SharePoint performance from the IT Pro to the developer (as it should!).
- SharePoint can now be managed with PowerShell (
stsadm.exeis still there but PowerShell is the way forward)
- Installation is simplified (at least for the core SharePoint components – there are still some additional installs).
- There’s a simplified upgrade process (at least for 2007).
- And a new service application infrastructure replaces the concept of Shared Service Providers (with shared services throughout the farm, that are non-extensible) with an extensible framework consisting of individual services that may be assigned to applications (reducing resource usage).
- SharePoint 2010 has a REST API (2007 was built on ASMX services) making it more extensible.
Microsoft’s marketing is based around six categories of workload for SharePoint:
- Sites: now have a new look and feel (more “AJAXy” – e.g. Silverlight webpart when create new items, etc.); teh Office “ribbon” user interface is extended to the server application; a more intuitive edit mode is provided withÂ the ability to change layouts on the fly, etc.; offline synchronisation with SharePoint workspace and supports for multiple workspaces.
- Communities: embrace web 2.0, redesigned mysites; tagging; enhanced wiki and blogs; ratings; enhanced people search.
- Content: Document sets (grouping documents for metadata and versioning).Â In 2007 site collections cannot be nested (it’s possible to have many subsites but collections are all peers – isolated by security, need to deploy content types around farm manually) but 2010 provides enterprise content types.Â It’s not always a good idea to load all content into SharePoint content databaseÂ andÂ new linked lists can treat file system items like an ordinary SharePoint list (so can search, etc. on it).
- Search: Search Server 2010 Express provides quick, easy, powerful search for free; SharePoint Server 2010 gives complete intranet search; FAST Search Server for SharePoint gives high end search delivered through SharePoint (Microsoft bought FAST in 2008).Â There are changes in indexing as the MOSS 2007 scale-out model generated certain bottlenecks (e.g. a single index server for each set of shared services presenting a single point of failure; the search database was a bottleneck; and the whole index propagated to all front end web servers). In SharePoint 2010, theÂ indexer is now a crawler and has a separate crawl database.Â Query/index servers can store partitions of the index (so no longer on one server) for fast searching.Â The FAST search gives thumbnails, refinements with counts on properties, visual best bets, the ability to sort results on any property, scrolling PowerPoint previews, similarity search andÂ phonetic searching.
- Insights: BI, analytics, reporting services, etc.;Â Excel Services, etc. with editable cells (at least in CTP, although not in the betaâ€¦); Visio services (needs Visio 2010) allows design and publishing to browser (in .VDW format), with data binding for data driven drawings – e.g. a server diagram with colour coding based on pings (binding ranges of data to various colours), rendered in Silverlight (or JPG if Silverlight is not available). Other examples are room booking, organisational diagrams with sales figures, etc.
- Composites:Â provide business connectivity services, to connect SharePoint to line of business applications, replacing theÂ business data catalog in 2007 (which was read only), allowing create, read, update and delete operations, the creation ofÂ external content types, external lists created from external content types, and to display line of business data in standard SharePoint forms.
Under the covers, SharePoint is just a very large ASP.NET application but it’s also one of Microsoft’s fastest growing platforms and the 2007 version has really taken off in many organisations.Â Even so, out-of-the-box SharePoint is a platform upon which to develop – the solutions provided are examples and are not the limits of what SharePoint can do.Â SharePoint 2010 looks to provide a number of improvements to address issues of scalability and extensibility together with features that enhance the experience for users of the technology.Â Expect to see the product released in the first half of 2010.