This is one installment in our series “In Own Words” by Voitanos asking experienced SharePoint developers to share their thoughts on the new development model for SharePoint - the SharePoint Framework. In this series, we ask each person a series of questions and let them share their thoughts.
Hi. My name is Corey Roth and I am an independent consultant specializing in Office 365 and mobile.
As a SharePoint developer, I got my background started in around 2007, when I got thrown into a project in my first consulting gig. They said “Hey, you do SharePoint, at least pretend you do. You’re going out to the client next week.” I said “Great.” My first project was centered around SharePoint Search, so I started contributing in that area and started speaking about it and then for that as I later transitioned into the Office 365 development. People keep asking me about Search and it’s not something people focus on as much anymore.
I would say with the SharePoint Framework, I started before it went to GA and I dabble in it is really the extent, honestly. I haven’t done any real projects on it, but I’ve been looking at it quite a bit to see how it will fit my clients' needs.
I like the direction it’s going. I’ve been doing a lot of mobile development, so I have a background there and they leveraged a lot of principles that platforms like Cordova used and with the basis on Node.js, the use of TypeScript. For me, that wasn’t quite the culture shock that other people experienced coming over from it. I see a lot of how those paradigms came over. I think they’re going in the right direction. I think it’s got a lot of maturing to do, but it just hit GA and there’s a lot of things coming. I’m excited about what going in the pipeline.
I think it’s a good starting point. I’d like to see some pieces come to it and we’ll talk about that, but if you want to build a web part, it’s disconnected, it’s built on tool chains that are established for other communities and so I think it will work well. It’s just a matter of finally getting the last pieces that we need to do more of the advanced types of customizations that we traditionally did with the other model and as well traditional server-side code development.
I think the roadmap has most of the things we care about on it. We have web parts now. We’re going to start getting things where we do more granular customizations on pages as well as the whole page itself. I think when those are all in play, you’ll be able to do some great customizations to SharePoint using this new model.
The shift to Node.js and TypeScript. I know that’s a challenge for some people, but I think it’s a great way to do it. It’s what I’m familiar with now and I’ve come to love it. I think it provides you a good environment, it’s decoupled from the server, and you can run it wherever and it gives you a lot of options, of course. You don’t necessarily have to borrow one Framework or the other, although it’s certainly easier with some, as we know. I think it’s a great way to do it.
I think the challenge is going to be adoption from Legacy SharePoint developers, honestly. As a SharePoint developer, we pretty much miss the world of and the ASP.NET stack. We were locked into what SharePoint provided us. We were always versions of the .NET Framework behind things like that. As a result, a lot of SharePoint developers didn’t have to learn some of the newer stuff and when they had to, it’s okay this is totally a shock to them. The switch to Node.js, different tooling, that’s just different and it’s not the structured C Sharp do whatever I want to on the server type of mentality. I think although a lot of other developers are already using this for single page applications and things like that, the SharePoint world, a lot of that passed them by and they’re having to play catch up.
As far as roadmap and where I hope to see the SharePoint Framework, I would hope to see a more mature generator, so, as I mentioned, we can generate different types of parts. I’d like to see more things that we could do. Right now, we’re limited to web parts. We know we have some things on roadmap that I would like to see full control of the page, I’d like to see be able to do anything to a list in document library, injecting things, any of those kind of customizations that we used to do with the traditional server-side models. I think we’ll see some of that probably come out to play here in the next six months to a year. On the adoption side, hopefully we’ll start seeing an uptick of that as well. Although, I think it’ll be a little slow going at first.
I think that will be the biggest challenge at least burning those tools and playing catch up to it a little bit.
We’ll attract new developers too, so that’s an interesting aspect as well.
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Andrew Connell is a web developer with a focus on Microsoft Azure & Microsoft 365, specifically SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Azure, Node.js, .NET Core, and React that enjoys development, writing & teaching… if it’s a cutting-edge web you will find Andrew there! He has received Microsoft’s MVP award every year since 2005 and has helped thousands of developers through the various courses he’s authored and taught both in-person & in online courses. Throughout the years Andrew has been fortunate enough to share what he has learned at conferences like Microsoft’s TechEd, Build, Ignite & the SharePoint Conference (SPC), the European SharePoint Conference, SharePoint Fest, and Angular’s ngConf & AngularU among many others all around the world in North America, Europe, Asia & Australia.
Corey Roth is the Director of Accelerated Solutions t at DMI specializing in open-source and Microsoft technologies including Azure and Microsoft 365. Corey is a ten-time recipient of the Microsoft MVP award in Office Apps and Services. Specializing in SPFx development, Corey has helped a number of large enterprises develop custom SharePoint solutions. Corey helps ISVs develop mobile-first applications for Office 365 using technologies such as Ionic Framework and Azure. In his spare time, Corey works with his wife, Jennifer, on their product BrewZap, a mobile app platform for breweries. Corey has a blog at coreyroth.com where he posts about the latest technology and Office 365.