The blog has been a bit quiet the past few months. Like many of my fellow SharePoint professionals I’ve been spending much of my free time getting up to speed on the next wave of tools between Office, SharePoint, and Visual Studio. It is an incredible amount of information to digest so even though I have a few hundred hours on it there always seems to be more to dig into. I feel like I got into it a bit late due to some other project commitments last fall. Since then most of my free time has been devoted to it as I prepare for new projects along with some presentations I have lined up on 2010 topics.
Now that we are inching a little closer to the release I expect to see more companies start to organize efforts to take a look at it. This means people will be able to work with it on company time and computers which was a real barrier for most people. I thought I would put together a few suggestions on what to look at based on a few different roles.
Areas of Interest
Start by getting familiar with the functionality and features that are most relevant to your environment. Here are a few commonly discussed areas.
Service Applications – Get familiar with the Service Application framework and the new services that are available. Also, get familiar with how the services are distributed across the farm topology. The new model is much more robust and potentially more complicated in large environments. Doing the proper planning ahead of time for services and server topology will increase the likelihood for success.
Distributed Deployments – In addition to the distribution of services across servers within a farm, there is now support for connecting or sharing services between farms. Many larger organizations will see better management, data accuracy, and less redundancy if they can get this right.
Business Connectivity Services (BCS) – The BCS represents a very strong integration point by supporting read and write connectivity to external databases, web services, assemblies and custom data sources.
Workflow Improvements – If you currently use workflows you will be happy to see the improvements in this area. Workflows can be designed in Visio, Imported/Exported with Designer, and also imported into Visual Studio allowing you to formalize or enhance a process originally prototyped in SharePoint Designer.
Visual Studio – In previous versions it seemed like the developer story was an afterthought, but a number of improvements have been made to Visual Studio to make building and deploying features much easier.
Plan the Transition
Chances are you are currently working with a 2007 farm. Business and project cycles are almost never aligned with a vendor’s product release cycle so its safe to say that the majority of the SharePoint 2007 (MOSS/WSS 3) deployments will not have completed their upgrades this summer. By understanding the new platform and capabilities you can better architect and develop solutions that can make the transition smoothly.
Anyone that has Service Pack 2 with the Oct 09 Cumulative Updates also has the ability to test the upgradability of their solution. This should absolutely be done before any new solutions or applications are deployed to the SharePoint environment. It is always easier to make changes before the release than it is to update it as part of a future release.
Have Fun With It
While it can be a lot of information, take your time and have fun with it. By trying to focus on a few things at a time it will be much easier to adapt to the new way of doing things and the new capabilities.