The SharePoint Conference 2009 was full of interesting and promising information around the next version of SharePoint : SharePoint 2010. During the 4 days of the conference, it was possible to see the new SharePoint in action, see demos or even talk to people who experienced the new features of the product.
The conference started with a keynote introduced by Tom Rizzo, SharePoint Senior Director at Microsoft who provided already a number of impressive coming features and some funny facts about the conference :
The SharePoint conference was sold out several weeks before.
More than 7400 attendees present in Vegas
7.5 miles of cable only for the WiFi
Just before handing over to Steve Ballmer, a video sharing testimonials about the implementation of SharePoint 2010 has been shown to us.
Surprisingly, when Steve Ballmer came on stage, it was not the tornado we used to see in other conferences, but it is true that I did not have the chance to see him in recent shows. Nevertheless, it seems it was THE SharePoint conference he had to do – it was the very first SP conference for him.
First, the famous 6 part diagram showing the main SharePoint areas has been changed and….stayed the same. Indeed, the color has changed, from a multi-coloured one to a blue one and the words have been adapted, but the meaning behind is, in my opinion, the same :
The center part, Platform Services has been renamed Sites
Collaboration is now Communities
Portal moved to Compositions
Business Intelligence replaced by Insights
Content Management simplified by Content
Search has been kept Search
The only part that disappeared is Business Forms from the 2007 diagram
Starting from here, in this post, it is not a transcription of the keynote only, but rather a summary or a compilation of the sessions I attended.
Windows SharePoint Services gives place to SharePoint Foundation. As its predecessor, the foundation is the building block for SharePoint 2010 and will be free. The first public beta version of the product will be available mid-November, with a final release expected the first half of 2010.
New or Improved functionalities
In SharePoint 2007, creating sites or team workspaces was already very efficient, enabling people to work on documents together or to share knowledge in a convenient way.
With SharePoint 2010, it is going to be pushed to the next level, by reducing the post-backs to the server and using extensively AJAX, avoiding the full page refresh.
Microsoft has also improved the support of standards, such as WCAG, XHTML, REST and so on.
With Groove, it was possible for a user to take his documents offline from a library, to work on them in a plane or any disconnected place and then synchronizing them with the repository. The new version of that client is now called SharePoint Workspace 2010 and enables not only to take documents offline, but also an entire site content or lists.
Microsoft has taken example of what has been doing outside, on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking platform. Of course, Microsoft does not want corporate data on Facebook, far from that. In order to bring the social networking within the enterprise, they improved the mySite feature a lot, bringing status update to the user profile, social tagging also called folksonomies, bookmark sharing or even the NoteBoard which is more or less the equivalent of the Facebook’s wall.
For each activities published by a user, it will be possible to rate it, sending your interest to his work and influencing the ranking of the activities in the search result.
Blogs were introduced in SP2007 for users, but now, it is also possible to have team blogs where all team members can post information to give visibility to their activities
On the content management side, a lot of new features are arriving. The very first one that needs to mention is something that was expected since the web 2.0 came around. Metadata and taxonomies. Metadata and taxonomies will be defined centrally and could be extended in the different sites and could be assigned to any kind of documents. Here, a distinction has to be made between the taxonomies and the folksonomies. The first one is a closed list of value for a given metadata whereas the second one is more related to tagging and defined by the different users in their own context.
Based on the metadata assigned to a document upload time, it will be possible to SharePoint to store directly the document in a specific library or even in a folder automatically. This will help the user in selecting the correct location for his upload.
With the notion of document set, it will be possible to link documents, sharing the same metadata or linking them to a workflow. In certain cases, it could replace the folders. It will also be possible to define a home page to document sets.
In terms of record management, a nice feature I was looking for in 2007 is the document locking when it has been identified as a record or an official document.
A big step has been done on the search. With the strategic acquisition of FAST, Microsoft offers now an enterprise-class search engine. Nevertheless, when such power will be not needed, Microsoft offers the entry-level search engine with its Search Server 2010 Express and with SharePoint 2010 another improved search engine.
When the search result will be displayed, it will be proposed to refine the results for a more precise search or find more relevant information. To better support the people looking for information they don’t know how to spell, SharePoint introduces the phonetic search, especially while searching for people.
With SharePoint 2010 we will see the merge of Performance Point with SharePoint to better support the need for dashboards and scorecards. At the same time, while Excel services proven its usefulness and efficiency, Microsoft has integrated Visio in SharePoint 2010 and now proposing Visio Services allowing the rendering of Visio diagrams within the browser.
Probably the best achievement in this area is the disappearance of the BDC (Business Data Catalog). Ok, not really...it has been replaced by the BCS (Business Connectivity Services) offering what the BDC was missing : the ability to update the remote data sources.
In parallel to Visio Services, SharePoint 2010 arrives with Access Services to allow users to develop their Access application within Access and then publish it into SharePoint, offering it to others users that will interact with the application from within the web browser.
IT staff dislike custom code in SharePoint. It kills the performance of the whole farm, it needs maintenance, it requires people to deploy and monitor, to summarize it costs a lot. In order to enable site collection administrators to deploy custom code, SharePoint 2010 brings the sandbox which enables the farm administrators to set thresholds for the CPU usage, memory and other resources. Of course, sandboxed applications will have some limitations as they will not be allowed to get access to farm level objects for example.
For IT Pros
Of course, the new SharePoint comes with some performance enhancement and several demos I saw were quite impressive. One of them showed more than 1 million of document in a library being filtered by a metadata in less than a second. Awesome ! At the same time, it is again emphasized that the first performance killer with SharePoint is the customization.
Upgrading from 2007 for 2010 was also an important point that most of the people at the conference wanted to hear about. First, and it is not a surprise, 2007 and 2010 will not be interoperable. Then, several tools will be available to help the upgrade to 2010. One of them is the upgrade checker to get information of what is upgradeable. For a visual upgrade, a preview of the user interface, available from the Site Actions menu, will enable the administrator to see what the user interface will look like.
The important thing during a deployment is that the server will need an internet connection in order to be able to download the pre-requisites automatically.
To help administrators to troubleshoot or monitor their SharePoint farms, SharePoint 2010 will provide several reports giving, for example, the slowest page of the sites. These reports will be based on a dedicated database which will use an open schema to allow extensions and custom reports. On the pages, there will be a button available for administrators or developers to get access to the diagnostic page with the timings of the page.
What will probably make the developers and even more the IT people, is that SharePoint 2010 will run on a Windows Vista or Windows 7 machine. No need then to have a dedicated Windows Server. But, it will require a 64-bit machine.
Then, the template gallery will contain all the possible SharePoint artifacts, from the list through, event receivers, BCS designer or feature designer to avoid the developer to write XML manually. From the server explorer, it will be possible to browse the different objects of the site.
For the testing, Visual Studio 2010 will be smart enough to detect if the solution to deploy has already been deployed before and will retract it if necessary.
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.