WOW is the first word that comes to mind when I’m thinking of the week I have had in Las Vegas during the SharePoint Conference 2014. IT. WAS. AWESOME. It’s also cool to see lots people felt the same way. The hashtag #spc14 was on fire! But still for the people that couldn’t go, I want to point out some new Key Concepts that are going to rock our Dev World!
Something we could have been expecting since MS bought Yammer is a Graph protocol that works with SharePoint, Office and Yammer objects. Yammer was already based on Open Graph (like Facebook is) and therefor it’s no surprise Microsoft has been working on this to cover the entire Office space. In the Keynote the Office Graph was anounced with a demo on Project Oslo. A new, personalized and highly interactive App based on this Office Graph principle. It really looks awesome and the Graph will also be part of a new API in Office! Learn more about this right here: http://blogs.office.com/2014/03/03/work-like-a-network-enterprise-social-and-the-future-of-work/
With the addition of Office Graph and lots of other new Features, the API’s for Office (I’m including SharePoint as a part of Office) are starting to change. A thin red line that was to discover in the Development tracks this SPC is that Microsoft is unifying the API’s that Office 365 (including SharePoint) have to offer. By that I mean that Microsoft is clearly pushing 1 technique and that is by using REST and OData. Microsoft is heading for a model where every API is a RESTful service, wheter it is an Office API or a SharePoint API. Now this is a big deal! The vision here is that those API’s will be Entity Driven. When asking the API for files they will most likely come from SharePoint or OneDrive. When asking for contacts, they will come from Office. The Office / SharePoint team is now even talking to the Dynamics CRM guys and the goal is to achieve the same for Dynamics CRM Online. That would be sweet!
Examples of the new Office API’s and a list of new Features can be found here: http://officeams.codeplex.com/
The App Model
It may be clear to most of you that considering the API “Unification”, the App Model is still the way to go and is heading for adulthood! Good to hear the Product Team is hoping to get AutoHosted Apps out of Preview by the end of this year. This will be a nice addition to the App Store across the Globe. There already is a roadmap for the localization of the store for the next wave which will be somewhere Q2 of this year. The Netherlands is one of those first countries the App store will become available to.
In combination with the new Office API’s it is way easier to build Office Apps now. Microsoft rebranded these to “Contextual Apps” by the way. On top of this all, Microsoft has released an Open Source Android SDK to build Apps for Android devices. Didn’t see that one coming! You can get it here from GitHub: https://github.com/OfficeDev/Office-365-SDK-for-Android
Microsoft is opening up
Finally something that I think is the most important thing during these conferences. You can get a good idea of where Microsoft as a company is heading. My overal feeling with Microsoft this conference was that Microsoft is really opening up to it’s partners. Never was I so close to the people that actually built SharePoint and Office 365. As one of the Nordic Partners we had the opportunity to sit down with the productteam and ask questions about the present and future of SharePoint and Office 365.
Besides organizing these kinds of roundtables, it was clear that Microsoft is really happy with the Feedback they receive from everyone in the SharePoint community. There is a User Voice site to submit feedback from a developers perspective. And also Stack Exchange is an official channel used by Microsoft.
It was also good to hear that Microsoft is working on plans to re-introduce the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for Cloud models. This would be a very welcome feature so Partners and Developers can test the new API’s, Features etc that will be released in Office 365 later on. Unfortunately Microsoft is still working on this idea and so my guess is that we will have to wait a little longer before this will come around. Lot’s of uncertainties here, but the important point here is that Microsoft is sharing more and more to it’s partners and developers. Go Microsoft!
Famous last words
When I compare this conference to the one in 2012 I can clearly see Microsoft has started listening to our feedback and they’ve done a great job on this conference. The sessions and speakers where top notch in my experience and everything was very well organized. Obviously I just covered a tiny part of all the stuff that was talked about in the breakout sessions. It’s not clear when all the content will be released, but for now there are lots of Post Conference Blogs you can read to get the information you need.
See you next time at SharePoint Conference!