SharePoint Framework - in Rob Windsor's Own Words

This installment in our series asks experienced SharePoint developers to share their thoughts on the SharePoint Framework. In this series, we ask each person a series of questions and let them share their thoughts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Webinar recording


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.

Rob Windsor

What’s your background as a SharePoint developer?

I’ve been doing dot net development since dot net first came out and I started doing SharePoint development in about 2006, when SharePoint 2007 was released.

How much time have you spent with the SharePoint Framework?

I wouldn’t say an extensive amount of time, but I’ve definitely spent quite a bit of time since the early betas, going over and of course, keeping up as the new releases come out.

What is your impression of SharePoint Framework today?

I think it’s in a good spot, except for the fact that modern’s been out since what? Early 2006? May 2006? Sorry, 2016. I’m not quite that bad. And you know, right now we have web parts, we have extensions, but I’d like to see… I would have liked to have seen the framework be further along in its evolution at this point in time.

What is your impression of the SharePoint Framework roadmap?

Actually, I just took a look at the roadmap in prep for this. And it’s kind of thin, I think. There’s a lot of things I would like to see on the roadmap, or at least to see mentioned on the roadmap, maybe in a little bit of more on time frames, about when things potentially could be released.

What is your favorite part of the SharePoint Framework?

I’m hoping my favorite part of the SharePoint framework is going to be the new MS graph and AAD/HTTP client APIs. I’ve played around with them a little bit. I don’t know if concerned’s the right word, but the idea of the pop up for authentication I think could be a little bit problematic with organizations and having to disable popups for your tenant. But the ability to easily call the graph or other APIs or your own custom APIs, I think is hugely, hugely valuable.

What is the one thing you would add to the SharePoint Framework?

I guess I would say content editor web part and script editor web part. I can kind of understand Microsoft’s motivation for saying, we want all JavaScript put into the site to be administrator approved. I get that. But I think that the cost to be able to implement that, right now, is a little bit too high.

To force every single organization to have to have developers that can build web parts, can figure out how to package everything up, get it deployed to the out catalog and if you’re choosing not to do the end-packaged appointment, then also the CDN and so on, for things that could be done quite easily with a few minutes and a few lines of JavaScript today with a content editor web part, a classic, I think that cost is just too high to achieve the result that they’re looking for.

I do want to mention that on the roadmap, which again, we just talked about, there is an entry for citizen/developer web parts… I think, I can’t remember the exact wording of it. It is possible that while it might not be a script editor or a content editor web part, there might be something equivalent to that or relatively equivalent to that, that is on the roadmap that they’ll implement.

What is the biggest challenge with SharePoint Framework?

So I think the biggest challenge is the tool set. Not that the tool set is bad in any way or anything like that, it’s the fact that the bulk of the developer audience for SharePoint isn’t familiar with those tools, right? Quite honestly, there’s a relatively steep learning curve for learning all of them.

If you want to do things, the sort of quote-unquote “straight line path,” then follow on the docs, it works great. But when you want to do things that are outside of that path, unless you know Web Pack and GULP and these other tools, it’s really, really difficult. I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge going forward.

Predict the future - Where do you see the SharePoint Framework Going?

In terms of the future and adoption and things like that, I think one is going to be and it’s something I referred to earlier is the speed at which the SharePoint framework evolves. As they add in new stuff. There’s a lot of things that I think would be super important: single page apps is a huge example, right? Form customization is another example.

There’s a lot of things that I think people are looking forward to and I think that if those things start coming out and start getting added to the evolution of the SharePoint framework, that will help with adoption. And I mean, obviously it’ll help us as developers build more… build business applications for our clients.