So it’s Monday, October 26, and I’m back and rested from SharePoint Conference 2009 (#SPC09) in Las Vegas. (I slept most of the weekend, catching up from all of the fun late nights hanging out with SharePoint folks from around the world, including dancing to Huey Lewis with @jenfloyd08 in my slouchy 80’s “I heart SP” t-shirt. You won’t have to look very hard to find pictures of this).
First of all, I met so many great people at SPC09. Without exception, everybody was friendly and very enthusiastic about SharePoint. In a couple of former lives, I’ve been involved in other large communities and attended other conferences (for example, animal behavior, marine mammals, forensic science) where the participants often held their cards close to their chests and where there was a sense of proprietary entitlement. This may be due to the types of subject matter communities involved (academic, science, criminal justice) which differ greatly from a technology focused group. Maybe all techie-geeky people are just more open with information – I know that I’m grateful to feel little guardedness from the SharePoint tech community.
(The only resistance I did feel was in the months prior to the conference, when I asked about the best way to find out how to participate in the review of the SP2010 Beta. I asked on Twitter once if somebody would point me in the right direction – and the silence was deafening. I know that this is due to ND agreements – but I clearly wasn’t trying to find out secret information about SP2010 – I was trying to find out what the proper channels were to request participate in the Technical Preview program. A little advice would have been nice, as I’m clearly not the only one with the question. Thanks to my one Australian colleague who suggested that I speak to my PAM.)
Was there Microsoft bias at a Microsoft SharePoint conference? Sure! But at SPC09 I saw iPhones and Macs openly used, by presenters and attendees alike. I even saw a SharePoint “branded” iPhone that belonged to a prominent Microsoft guy. There was open discussion about Silverlight versus Flash, although usually Silverlight features were touted. I heard mention of PDFs, but none of Microsoft’s XPS format. Social media was a topic of many a session, we beat the heck out of Twitter with the #SPC09 hashtag, creating a trending topic several times(!), and apparently live blogging was going on all week, although I had little time to review anything but #SPC09.
The only things I didn’t get to do last week: Sleep, Attend the Deep Dive sessions on Friday, and Go to the U2 concert. Tweets from the Deep Dives made them sound very worthwhile.
Below is my first attempt at compiling and sorting my notes from the voluminous amount of information presented at the conference. Keep in mind that I’m reviewing things from a SharePoint Architect / Branding point of view (I’m not a developer). I plan to post notes over the next week or so as I come across interesting tidbits and start to watch the video of some of the sessions that I missed. To start, here are some of the things that caught my eye during the sessions last week – either from sessions I was in or from Tweets about other sessions.
Highlights and Hot Topics: Social Networking, Web Content Management, The Ribbon, STSADM is dead – replaced by Powershell, Visio Workflows, No more tables in the SharePoint code (except for in the ribbon and web parts) now all DIV based!
Branding / Design / WCM
- I had a chance to go through the Visual Upgrade lab in Hands on Labs. The new SharePoint Designer interface is good – not always completely intuitive (why do I have to close a file, then click advanced edit, then reopen the file – just to make a change to the code?), and will take some getting used to, but overall I like it. This lab still had some glitches in the instructions that made it difficult to complete and I heard the same from other SP peeps who had tried out some of the other labs.
- One master page now affects all site .aspx layouts pages (includes admin pages)!
- Documentation exists today on every component of the new default master page (v4.master) – no more guessing on why things are in there.
- No more tables in SharePoint code! – now all DIV based (except in ribbon and web parts).
- UI of new ribbon can be highly customized.
- Site Owners: Themes can be customized within the browser (colors, fonts, etc.)
- Designers: Can still create designs from scratch, design themes for existing designs.
- IT / Developer: Control over available themes, Public API – can create Features that add themes.
- Metadata with digital assets: thumbnail and hover views.
- Digital asset management: preview videos in library with Silverlight media player.
- Media not to store in SP: multicasting, DRM, very large files.
- ‘”REST – ‘Restful API’ – go look it up! If you’re not looking into these technologies then you’re behind already.”
- Brand and WCM sites today are Agile in nature: 6 months or shorter implementations are typical. Great community behind SP keeps it Agile.
- WCM improvements: CSS and Standards Compliancy (WCAG, cross-browser, XHTML support), Implementation of SEO best/common practices, Analytics package integration (new analytics in 2010), Scalability – we can support the big lists now!
- Workflow improvements: Reusable, SPD workflows for Content Type, InfoPath Forms.
- Performance: AJAX UI, page folders, content org & general list/query, video streaming.
- Logging improvements.
- jQuery included in VS2010 (large community support) – You can do a lot w/o dev.
- AJAX, JSON and RESTful API support – Widgets and Simple API interfaces.
- Rich Client Authoring – Ribbon and AJAX.
- Multilingual Support – increasingly important.
- Variations Improvements.
- Time Jobs and Variations (moved to timer service).
- Content Query Webpart Enhancements.
- More advanced UI properties.
- Show related content.
- Runtime Content Support: Action or event.
- Silverlight and Rich Apps (key features to consider in WCM sites).
- Silverlight is a “Flash killer” – so says Tony Jones of Microsoft 🙂
- SP2010 still same version of .NET.
- SP2010 now uses CSS Sprites.
- Small improvements: Lot of Accessibility added, Delegate Controls added.
- Themes as we know it are gone, but 2003 or 2007 should upgrade fine.
- You now have to be a site collection owner to change the design of the public MySites pages.
- There are some CSS3 components inside SP2010.
- Better Firefox support.
- New content query web part finally allows choosing columns you want to display.
- Apply a style sheet to an individual web part.
- Claims based authentication: will be very important to implement.
- Many more DBs than last time – 17 DBs for one app!
- Farm, Services, Content groups of DBs – much more modular.
- Can now pick and choose services, instead of activating everything at once.
- Import/Export Lists.
- Backup site collection within Central Admin.
- Recover from unattached content DB.
- Granular restore options through Central Admin.
- 400+ Powershell Commandlets.
- Need 8G RAM minimum for production server.
- SP2010 logs are now compressed by default.
- Server groups – remove the 2007 limitation (where all servers host all apps): Group servers for serving different types of content.
- Improved SP Antivirus API.
- Enhanced Forefront integration.
- Enhanced analytics and ability to write custom reports.
- Taxonomy management tools.
Business Intelligence / Business Data / Workflow / InfoPath
- Business Data Catalog (BDC) is now Business Connectivity Services.
- BCS is available in Windows Foundation too.
- No datasheet view in BCS external lists.
- MS is recommending a new business focused role: “Content Steward” to define SharePoint enterprise meta data, policies, etc.
- “At #spc09 SSRS is really going to eat Crystal Reports lunch”.
- VWI – Visio Workflow Interchange / Visual Services: Visio makes file that can be imported by SPD to build workflow, view workflow status and details.
- Great enhancements to SPDesigner Workflows.
- All PerformancePoint items are now stored in lists and document libraries.
- You can now edit web part pages directly from the PerformacePoint scorecard editor.
- Enhancements in PerformancePoint 2010 – more integration: reporting connected to Lists with Live Preview.
- PerformancePoint: Inline editable list views, can update data from within your scorecard page and have all the other KPI’s update!
- Enhancements to Excel Services: Linking different tables interactively on a dashboard.
- Data view web parts in SPD2010 have Ajax feature that will allow part to refresh frequently.
- Workflow: Tasks are now part of larger approval process, Hierarchical assignments, Automatic data binding, Now easier to build in robust behaviors.
- InfoPath Forms Services now supports proper filtering for cascading drop downs!
- Search is much improved and scalable.
- SP2010 to keep datasheet view plus support new validation.
- Phonetic matching, indexing improvements.
- FAST search very powerful, If you can administer a SharePoint farm, you can configure FAST – much easier in SP2010.
- Tagging, tag clouds may be available OOTB. RSS feeds on tags.
- New organizational structure for My Sites: What’s New, My Content, My Profile, Find People.
- Two My Site databases: 1. Social – tagging, bookmarking, 2. User Profile – memberships, synced to a directory.
- My Site Extensibility – key concepts: Activity Application, Activity Type, Activity Template, Activity Event.
- My Site Profile Pictures: Central picture library, Auto resized for SP, AD, Profile page, etc., Picture picker – Customizable.
- My Site Profiles can now write back to AD.
- New feature in Profiles called Subtypes (type of user). Add custom properties by user type.
- Wikis now powered by SharePoint platform.
- Wikis – can have as many sites as you want.
- Wiki Integration: LOB data, Managed metadata (can share across entire site collection, or limit to Wiki), My Sites, Tags, Notes, Feeds.
- Wiki Compliance: Policy, Auditing, e-Discovery.
- Wiki Content Management: Wiki – can turn on Publishing if you want.
- Managed metadata group auto created with new Wiki site collection.
- Site Settings: Term set: Wiki Categories, Can add terms.
- Wiki Branding: Same as in standard pub site – Master, CSS.
- Content Types: Enterprise Wiki Page Content Type: Adds columns for ratings and tracking.
- Page layouts: Enterprise Wiki Page Layout [enterprisewiki.aspx].
- Wiki: Scale through Output Caching: Enterprise Wiki pages support caching – Feature leveraged from publishing infrastructure.
- Wiki: Uses Visual Studio to push as Feature – The code added in the metadata.
- SP2010 will support internet facing sites in the cloud.
- WSS 3.0 will become “Windows Foundation” in SP2010.
- There will be an internet facing site license for the Standard version that should be about half of the current 40k price tag. Some more details around licensing and pricing for small to midsized customers is dearly needed.
- Enhanced Analytics.
- “Stsadm is dead. Powershell is the future of SharePoint administration.”
- Microsoft Workspace replaces Groove to enable offline access to SharePoint server content. Automatic sync between server and client.
- AJAX is natively enabled. This means no more waiting for pages to load – page renders as info is received.
- Many metadata enhancements.
- sharepoint.microsoft.com is running on beta 2 of SharePoint 2010.
- End User Adoption help (will be updated for SP2010): SharePoint Buzz Kit and SharePoint Productivity Hub.