I’m not privy to the NDA, so I got to look at some of the new SharePoint 2010 (#sp2010) information for the first time with the Sneak Peak videos on the Microsoft site. I’ll try not to just repeat information in the videos, but tell you what I am looking forward to and make comments. I am sure everything they have stated so far is subject to change, but if half of it even gets implemented we’ll be in good shape. As I was watching the admin video, the first thing that I noted is that there will be a logging database. This appears to replace the need to find errors in the 12 hive’s LOGS folder. This is very exciting and should make it much easier to track down problems. Also of interest is that there is much improved export support and you will be able to backup specific sites and lists. This one is a no-brainer and should have always been included to begin with.
Another thing I saw was various things to help support large lists. The first thing being an admin configurable threshold on allowing how many items can be displayed in the default view at a time. The default was 5000 in the demo, so I am wondering if this will be the new suggested limit as opposed to the existing 3000 item limit today. What is cool is that the interface will display all of the items for an administrator but it will notify a regular user that too many items have been returned and that they need to use a filter.
Visual Studio 2010 looks like it will be a great experience for developing SharePoint solutions. Out-of-the-box there is built in support for editing all types of things in SharePoint including importing workflows created by SharePoint Designer and existing .wsp packages. Building web parts no longer requires generating HTML via code due to the new Visual Web Part Designer. It appears they created a new typed called VisualWebPartUserControl which inherits from UserControl. You can drag and drop controls right onto the design surface and then easily deploy the web part with minimal effort. There are lots of designers and tools for working with the features and solution package itself, but it appears it takes care of most everything for you while still allowing you to customize things when you need to.
The changes to the Business Data Catalog really excite me. The BDC is now known as Business Connectivity Services (BCS). Application definition files can be created easily with Visual Studio 2010 or SPD. A visual design surface is available and allows you to easily create an application definition for an entity which comes from a database, web service, or .NET object. It also now has true insert/update/delete support and will create the methods in your application definition so that you can use that functionality later in a list. The new External List feature allows you to associate this application definition with a list and perform all of the CRUD operations on it just like it was a regular SharePoint list. This will make it very easy to integrate external data into SharePoint. My only question with this that comes to mind is there a way to customize the edit form or will that result in an unsupported scenario.
Some other cool things about the BCS is that it integrates with Office. Document templates can be created and data can be retrieved directly from the BCS to fill in values in a document. Microsoft Groove has been renamed SharePoint Workspace and provides a graphical interface for working with SharePoint. On top of that it provides the capability of syncing entire sites offline including BCS data. Documents can be updated and LOB data can be changed and then it can be synced back to SharePoint. I think this will provide great functionality for any type of field or remote users who are occasionally connected.
As a developer, another feature I was really excited about was LINQ support for SharePoint lists. You will be able to point the spmetal tool at a SharePoint list to generate a strongly typed data context class. You can then query the list as you would anything else using LINQ. I took a look at the CTP of the Developer Documentation today as well. It looks like all of the collections now have a method called GetTypeEnumerator(T). This returns an IEnumerator<T> which means any collection that implements this can also be queried with LINQ. I am really hoping this eliminates CAML queries, however I did see in the Client Object Model demo, that they still used a CAML query there. Since I brought up the Client OM, I’ll mention that there is a client object model available now for SharePoint which will make things like integrating with Silverlight very easy.
Unfortunately, they haven’t really produced any information about the changes in Search yet. I am looking forward to hearing most about those. Hopefully, they completely scrapped the Search Center and started over. I am wondering if there are any changes in the Records Center too. I also wonder how this will affect partners that have built tools around MOSS 2007. I can see Lightning Tools BDC Meta Man and AvePoint being directly affected. However, I am sure there will still be new areas for these companies to explore with the new product. This is an exciting time and I can’t wait for the public beta and to hear more about the product. Unfortunately, it’s not looking like I will make it to the SharePoint Conference this year, so I will have to be getting a lot of information second hand.
On a related note, don’t forget about the Tulsa SharePoint Interest Group tonight.
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