Category Archives: Jeremy Thake has moved homes

You may have noticed a little change here at First off I wanted to say a huge thank you to FPWeb for providing FREE hosting for this web site running on a SharePoint Server 2010 Farm for the last few years. The community has benefited tremendously from the wealth of information shared by the community headed up by myself (Jeremy Thake @jthake), Mark Miller @eusp and Natasha Felshman @teameusp. I would also like to thank all of our sponsors over the years that have helped to pay for expenses to keep the site running and the editorial effort running, without the sponsors this site wouldn’t be what it is today.

I have spent quite a bit of my own personal time writing up a migration script to get the content out of SharePoint Server 2010 Publishing Site lists and libraries into WordPress. I’ve used all the tricks in the book to get ALL of the content over including all the comments, images, authors and categories.

As you are probably aware, I have moved to Seattle to take a role as a Senior Product Marketing Manager role in the Office 365 Developer team. I wrote a post on this back in March when I joined. I would encourage you to go see what our team has been up to at I would just like to say a personal thank you to everyone involved in the community, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my dream of working for Microsoft without all your support and help over the years!
Mark has also been busy forming a new community around the Nexus product.  You can check out what Mark has been doing over at the Sonatype blog. No doubt that community will benefit immensely from his passion for building strong collaboration across the globe like he did with and then

Rather than let the content disappear off the Internet when the SharePoint Server’s were switched off, I thought it was important to keep things going and accessible. I’ve already had quite a few questions over the last few months around the future of the site.
The site has over 160,000 page views a month purely through search driven referrals. There has been no content updates on the site since November 2013, but if there are people who want to contribute to this site I am more than happy to open the doors again.
The web site is currently hosted on my personal Azure tenant. I am not looking to make this a commercial site and will only source sponsorship to keep the lights on. Truthfully, I have no idea what it’ll cost to run WordPress on Azure Web Sites and Azure SQL with the audience it has.

If people are interested in contributing, I will be looking for some volunteers to act as editors for content in the End User, Developer and IT Pro spaces respectively. I am also looking for someone with some Photoshop skills to skin this site from the default theme with a nice top banner.

So, feel free to chime in below in the comments and lets see what we can rustle up!

Reflecting back on SPC12


With an official announced 10,000 attendees at the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas this year from 85 countries and over 7000 watching live on the webcast and #SPC12 hash tag trending even with extremely poor Wi-Fi access during the week…this year’s SPC12 was a major hit!

The conference was sponsored by over 200 companies and if the 250+ sessions over four days wasn’t enough the expo hall was packed the brim full of vendors ready to pitch their latest add-ons to SharePoint.

The keynote focused heavily on the cloud throughout, I do understand that Microsoft marketing team need to push the future…but a quick straw poll as we drew the winning ticket for the Ducati we gave away on the AvePoint booth on Thursday afternoon proved that a good 95% weren’t even considering it out of the 1000+ waiting to see whether they were going to win.


The biggest push in the whole keynote in my opinion came from the announcement of 3 month "service updates" for SharePoint Online Office 365 tenants. There was no announcements of any changes to the on-premises 3 year release cycles with 2 service packs. This will obviously be the way to tempt organizations to Office 365 from on-premises which won’t be getting the new features for a LONG time after.

Microsoft wanted to make a big point by having all demonstrations on Office 365 from the Amsterdam datacenter to try and prove that geographically dispersed organizations can use one central tenancies.

The other key themes or "disruptive technologies" that Microsoft wanted you to "embrace" were "mobile", "social" and "the experience".


SharePoint’s mobile story to date has been very poor with a micro-browser rendering system best left to the deceased Blackberry platform. Comparing SharePoint collaboration workload competitors who have a strong mobile story such as Google Docs, Alfresco and, Microsoft were really having to make a splash in this round. The announcement of a Windows Phone 8 client which I am already using with our own internal Intranet from a social perspective is great! The information around a iOS and Android equivalent is also great news, although expect not all functionality to be on those devices as per Microsoft’s mandate to encourage Windows Phone adoption. The existing Office app for Windows Phone has proved extremely handy and the SkyDrive Pro integration will be a big hit for offline collaboration scenarios and finally nails what Groove and SharePoint Workspace tried to achieve in the last 6 years.

There was a light demo of a Windows 8 RT app for SharePoint expected early next year. It will be interesting to see how the SharePoint iOS vendor apps survive which stronger plays in this space in 2013.

SharePoint Social

The third thing for the audience to embrace was SharePoint social, not to be confused with Yammer, which I’ll get to in a moment. SharePoint social was meant to make a big splash 3 years ago and had plenty of excuses around it being two early 6 years when it launched to be compared to Facebook. Even 3 years later in 2010, the social platform was weak and barely used from sharing activity social effort. Microsoft tended to lean on "Discussion Boards", "Wikis" and "blogs" as social, which sadly didn’t get touched in 2010 and haven’t again in 2013. The new social in 2013 was demonstrated around the "Communities" site template with very light badge functionality and the new "follow" capability for documents, people, tags and sites. I believe the platform has the ability to be adopted now in 2013 by organizations, but still think comparing it to true enterprise social platforms it really isn’t there yet, but it’s a start.


It was great to hear that this wave had 4 times as many people focusing on user experience, and it does really show. They talked about how Office 365 is the "largest scale enterprise cloud service in the world", I guess all vendors claim this, it would be interesting to see how this stacks up against Google’s numbers.

It is always interesting to see what Microsoft think are the biggest experience changes and no surprises to see SkyDrive Pro, Site Hub, Team site updates, Apps, Search and oddly Outlook web access being showcased…which is not SharePoint whatsoever. This highlighted to me that the lines between Exchange, SharePoint and Office are blurring and questioned the reality of a SharePoint conference next year and maybe more of an "Office 365 conference".


There was a distinct divide in the keynote, with the Yammer team shoved awkwardly in the middle between two very strong "blue badge" Microsoft sections of the major themes and the new development model. I like the fact that their approach was different from the usual Microsoft "voice" but suspect next time we see them present they will be "neutralized".

The Microsoft team introduced the reasons for the acquisition was that Yammer are "the leaders in enterprise social" with the largest user base of 200,000 organizations in 150 countries in 24 languages and 85% fortune 500. They focused on Yammer’s "rapid innovation" pioneering new features based on user feedback and voluntary adoption watching analytical usage data to prioritize features.

The big question a lot of my enterprise customers have been asking is around the story of SharePoint social and Yammer and I was expecting it to be presented clearly. But sadly all they really announced was that Office 365 SharePoint Online customers could get Yammer Premium as part of their package and that there was already "integration" between the two. What disappointed me was that the integration has already been known as this was already in place before the acquisition.

The Yammer guys focused on distinct features to integrate were the "enterprise graph", "post to yammer" in the SharePoint ribbon, "yammer search" within SharePoint search and embedding a document reference from SharePoint in a yammer post. Near futures touted were integration with SkyDrive Pro and Office Web Apps.

Their basic roadmap discussed an "open graph", more web parts, and integration with Dynamics (which was shown at YamJam the week earlier). Deeper integration will tackle the concerns around a unified feed, tighter integration with documents and seamless identity integration. They also went on to discuss how they would hook into all of Office 365 from Skype, Lync through to Outlook and Exchange…."faster than you might expect from us". From this I would read that "SharePoint social" at best will be a little brother not focused on anymore and that Yammer will be the true enterprise social focus at Microsoft. The biggest facepalm moment of this was from discussions with various people at ask the experts is that Yammer will be "cloud-only" so for a lot of organizations out of reach.

We have been evaluating Yammer internally and to be honest have found that even it isn’t fully baked and the Windows Phone app is barely usable which is a key to the social enterprise.

There are way too many overlaps between SharePoint social and Yammer right now and although Microsoft promise a more unified story, from my experience, don’t expect it in 2013 if they can’t even talk marketing slides yet. You can follow, like, post statuses, view activity completely in isolation of each other and there is no mechanism to see both in one stream. In my opinion, this is going to confuse the hell out of end users and so the best approach I can recommend for now is to pick one and shut the other off the best you can. The easiest one to switch off is obviously going to be Yammer as it’s completely separate. Switching off SharePoint social is not a big tick box, it’s going to take a lot of custom CSS hacks and master page tweaks for sure.


The innovation focus through the keynote and the sessions during the week were that SharePoint 2013 was “built from the cloud up” and you can see this when looking at the feature comparison between Office 365 SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premise. And as discussed with the 3 month cadence of SharePoint Online they were “recommending you move to cloud for new experience”.

The upgrade story has got better this time round which obviously was for the benefit of them with Office 365 existing tenants and also on-premises customers. But don’t be fooled by how easy they say it is, expect the same experience as last time if you have customizations and not just a vanilla content database that can be moved to any old farm.

The main improvement from innovation aspects is the announcement of the performance improvements with “40% efficient use of bandwidth” due to “4x image compression” with one example used of the ribbon going from 400kb to 100Kb. They also quoted SQL being 50% faster due to enhanced stored procedures.

The shredded storage focus in the keynote around growth of content databases in average collaboration load being less compared to 2010 due to it storing deltas is a true fact, but if you attended mine and Dan’s session you would have also seen that with it comes a big performance hit from user experience. More details on this to come from me in the future on this and the differences between it and RBS + de-duplication technology.

I have to hand it to them from an innovation aspect on the new app-model with the ability to essentially build your app in php, perl, html5, or whatever and host it wherever and it be able to hook into SharePoint 2013 via the oAuth model if using SharePoint Online. They’re betting on the fact that existing developer ecosystems will start building integration into SharePoint, the market place is looking pretty quiet at the moment but I expect that to grow faster once SharePoint Online is in production with 2013 with all its tenants and demand starts to be driven.


I had two sessions at SPC12, one with Dan Holme focused on IT Pro story on-premises and what’s new which received very good scores from attendees and a vendor session with Dana Simberkoff around Governance and Compliance mapped to hybrid scenarios which also received above average scores. So I was personally very happy with my week! If you were unable to attend these sessions whilst you were at the conference because you were too busy, please log into MySPC and check them out!

Chris Givens has written a great little PowerShell script to pull down all the SPC PowerPoint and MP4 files which helped me grab it all and dump it on my Surface RT to watch on my many flights during my travels! Learning heaps already and encourage you to do the same as pretty sure you didn’t get to 250 odd sessions at the event itself with 8 running at once most times of the day! Note you need a MySPC login with access to sessions to get this content.

What wasn’t answered all week

For me, other than what I’ve already discussed around Yammer, some things I came away with that weren’t answered in a public forum were the release cadence for SharePoint on-premise…if our bleeding edge cloud friends get shiny new things every 3 months…when can us on-premise guys get them? In general there seemed to be a lack of theme around on-premise, and my discussions with a lot of people though out the week was that it was disappointing due to that fact.


Keynotes are always a tricky thing, especially with a room loaded with press, MVPs, office 365 customers and on-premise customers. I think overall it was a great keynote and tip my hat to those involved for a job well done. As for the conference, it astounds me how smoothly the week ran, the unfortunate Wi-Fi issues were out of their control and I spoke to a few that were seriously doing EVERYTHING they could to rectify it.


I had a great week, although extremely busy representing AvePoint and my community commitments and didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with good friends in the community. I did however get to have a few minutes one on one with Jon Bon Jovi before the SPC12 attendee party started, Jon is a huge hero of mine and I’ve seen him over 10 times and been backstage once before but unfortunately didn’t get to talk to him. So getting a chance to chat to him made my week to be honest!

SharePoint Emulators now live!!!


It’s great to see that the Visual Studio team has launched the SharePoint Emulators add-on for Visual Studio 2012 that works with SharePoint 2010 server-side .NET object model. I was lucky enough to get an early glimpse of this stuff when I was in Redmond for the Build conference and am really impressed with what they’ve managed to do.

Joshua Weber does a great job of explaining the benefits of this for Unit Testing SharePoint server-side .NET code in SharePoint 2010. To date it’s involved a lot of PEX/Moles or TypeMock Isolator type approaches. This approach in my opinion is a lot cleaner and a lot more extensible for your own projects.

The good news is that it’s available right now via a NuGet package so download it and give it a whirl. Yes it’s only available in Visual Studio Ultimate, which I think will hurt some development teams who don’t have this.

The framework leverages the Fakes (no not Thakes2012-11-27-Emulator-01.png) aspects of the Visual Studio 2012 suite and .NET Framework. Essentially they’ve coded an implementation of some of the major Microsoft.SharePoint.* dll’s and whatever is missing you can, in fact, actually extend yourself. The team is encouraging the community to help build out the missing shims to help with adoption of this tool.

There was a Build session on this which is available to download also here

Love to hear feedback from community on this one. I for one will be evaluating this in our internal testing here at AvePoint against our existing unit testing approaches.

Top Ten Productivity Reasons to Move to Microsoft SharePoint 2013


Microsoft is heavy in its campaign since publically making available the Microsoft Office 2013 Preview for client and server operating systems in July. I spend a great deal of time discussing with our customers all things business productivity. One of the biggest questions that keeps coming up is whether they should upgrade to SharePoint 2013 sooner rather than later.

I have seen some of my personally most respected SharePoint evangelists already stating that this is not a technology driven answer/IT focused decision. The reality is, though, that business users and owners aren’t aware that sooner or later Office 2010 will be upgradeable to the latest and greatest major version of SharePoint 2013. IT has a responsibility to drive the future of productivity. I think where other evangelists are coming from is that the drive should be for business productivity NOT technology reasons. Just because something is technically deemed “sexy” by the average IT person, doesn’t mean the business needs to purchase immediately. One huge risk in any technology roll out is training and adoption of the new version, which is often the biggest sticking point of moving off of technology with which users are comfortable. There are still plenty of people on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, even though the support window is coming to a close.

One great example of this is the new Apple iPhone 5 – I’ve not heard many users finding much improvement from their perspective around productivity, but they’ve had plenty of problems introduced by being early adopters of the technology.

The key to success with any technology upgrade is proving that return on investment from a productivity perspective – and it is the approach I take to answer my questions to existing SharePoint users around SharePoint 2013. I have done a few presentations at user groups on this, but figured it was time to put my top 10 down in an article.

1. Document Management

I have had two customers almost fall off their chairs after I’ve demonstrated the new drag-and-drop functionality of SharePoint document libraries. Uploading documents in previous versions of SharePoint have always meant a lot of awkward clicking and a huge change from using the file share where I just drag and drop off my local machine. Sure, there was “Open in Windows Explorer” but it was slow and unstable.

The other option of getting documents into SharePoint 2010 quickly was utilizing SharePoint Workspace, but that often was unpredictable and had document library scalability limitations. In SharePoint 2013, SkyDrive Pro is a new attempt at taking your content offline and replace SharePoint Workspace. The experience of taking your documents offline has also been improved by simply clicking the sync button. This is much more of the “drop box” experience that I hear is massively being adopted for its ease of use in businesses.

2. Sharing

Some of the major reasons SharePoint doesn’t get adopted as a document management system is the ease of simply sharing files via e-mail attachments or through Sky Drive or Dropbox. SharePoint 2013 introduces a new concept of “Share” that really takes the effort out of security management for business users by simply nominating the user or group and what permissions with two clicks. In itself, it also introduces some concerns around the security mess you could be left with so usage policies need to be thought about. For more information, please read this recent blog post from Microsoft. Requesting access to a site now has a lot more traceability too, so if you go back to the site after you have requested access, it will detail who the request is with now.

3. User Interface

When you first see SharePoint 2013, you realize it is a significant change over what is now in SharePoint 2010. The main changes are the “less is more” theories being applied in cleaning up the interface. Getting rid of some of the SharePoint-nuances like “Site Actions” and replacing with settings cog icon, having the getting started “Modern UI” tiles being front and center – but more importantly removable – getting rid of the useless photo that survived both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 in team site template! It feels like a more polished, ”user first” user interface.

4. Social

Facebook and Twitter are the kings of social and have been around for a long time, and with the release of SharePoint 2013 some of the user experiences have been introduced. For me, the biggest additions are the “@” symbol to lookup people to reference in social activity updates, the new communities with badges to gamify collaboration, and the ability to follow not only people but also documents, sites and tags. SharePoint 2010 was really missing the last piece to truly encourage users to adopt social and invest the time in social tagging.

5. Search

I, like many SharePoint users, spend a lot of time trying to find documents. I don’t have the capacity to think how every person in the business files documents away. No matter how good the information architecture is, stuff doesn’t always get put in the correct spot. Search enables me to discover information quickly, and SharePoint 2013 enables me to find things much more quickly with quick document previews in the web browser, much better search refiners on the left-hand side, and subtle improvements like “view library” and “send”.

6. Managed Metadata

When I reflect back on SharePoint 2010, the major addition was certainly the Managed Metadata service to allow me to tag content with a taxonomy or folksonomy of terms. This is a huge area for helping to improve discovery of content by searching and refining by terms. Although the user interface hasn’t changed since SharePoint 2010, there are a number of improvements – such as being able to follow terms from a social perspective. The other addition is the ability to have properties associated with terms, which has been introduced to have navigation driven by term sets. One great shame here is that this cannot be used to solve the cross-site collection navigation issue.

7. Site Policies

Site Policies were also available in SharePoint 2010 by accessing via the Central Admin user interface. The site policies allowed you to send email notifications to business users if their sites were not accessed for a set period of time. This really helps with business users who are accountable for sites and need to clean them up over time. This was really a “nag” email, and there was no real visibility of which sites were out of policy. In SharePoint 2013, the site policies now trigger workflows that you can build and have various configurations for handling inactive sites. This is still not as advanced as the site lifecycle management features of Governance Automation, though.

8. Web Content Management

Running internet facing sites on SharePoint has been around since MOSS 2007, but didn’t really mature in SharePoint 2010. With that said, it is clear that there is a great focus on this for SharePoint 2013. From a business productivity perspective, this not only benefits internet facing site authors, but also internal sites that want these advanced publishing features. Improvements in embedding video directly into pages, much shorter URLs, and the ability to have better multi-lingual and multi-device support means that your Intranet, Extranet will work much better!

9. Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence continues to evolve in SharePoint 2013 with improvements across the board in Excel client, Excel services, PerformancePoint services and Visio services. The in-memory capabilities of Excel client now allow business users to pull data from various sources and build amazing sheets in minutes.

10. Apps and the Marketplace

Apps are dear to my heart, with the release of our Labs prototype AvePoint MyView, which helps with productivity through bi-directional synchronization of tasks and events from multiple sites to Microsoft Exchange. This is one example of an app that can easily be added to your SharePoint site via the Microsoft Office Store to increase productivity. The new app model takes the risk out of customizations from an upgrade perspective and allows for much more flexibility than the sandboxed solution model. Out of the gate, there is not much there – but you can be sure that the marketplace will grow exponentially to benefit users.

I’m looking forward to hearing what businesses think are their main productivity drivers in the future – feel free to add your thoughts below in the comments!

SPC12: Survival guide from one binge drinker to another


In true form, I would like to share my advice on how to survive a conference if you like to burn the candle at both attends and consume all the content during the conference AND enjoy the social aspects! This is especially important as this year we’re back in Las Vegas…and my track record in Vegas is a little shady. Now I did give people advice for SPC11 in Anaheim and some listened and some didn’t …I have photographic evidence if people are interested.

This will be my third SPC in a row and I’m looking forward to all the new SharePoint 2013 content. It’s great to see so many non-Microsoft speakers giving their take on the new platform!

So here are the survival rules:

PICK YOUR BATTLES - don’t think you’re gonna survive being out Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs night until 2am drinking without missing the entire days sessions.

Strategically pick a few nights to go home early, just not the AvePoint Red Party or the Bon Jovi Attendee Party. Remember, you’re not at college anymore!

Not many can stay out and not drink and be bubbly the next morning…Joel Oleson doesn’t drink so don’t be fooled by his hyperactive stone cold sober antics and spritely morning appearance ;-)

  • EAT - we’ve all been there…straight from work benders…not a good idea. Conference food tends not to be the best food to try and fill yourself up with either. I’d recommend a good feed before starting out for the night. Late night kebabs afterwards may save you from a fate worse than death though! My best trick…cereal bars…buy them before you even get to Vegas and have them within reach of your hotel bed.
  • WATER - It isn’t ‘cheating’…drink water between each of those FREE alcohol drinks. And definitely hydrate throughout the day! I tend to have a water bottle that I take to all conferences and force myself to drink at least 2 bottles a day.
  • SAY HELLO - if you’re there on your own, don’t be afraid to come say hello. You probably recognize faces from blogs, videos and status updates…we may be busy catching up with old friends, but we’ll certainly introduce you to people to make you part of it all. Leverage twitter…just give a shout out that you’re looking for people to hang with…someone will respond.
  • MORNING KIT - after you’ve slapped on the aftershave and just about to walk out the door of your hotel room…make sure you have a bottle of water (or better yet Vitamin Water) by your bed, some aspirin and a breakfast cereal bar.
  • SOCIAL NETWORKS - remember pretty much everyone there will have smart phones with cameras on them…fortunately some won’t have ROAMING data…but they’ll be lots being pushed online. Just saying. ;-)

    Announce on social networks which events you’re going to the afternoon of the event. The amount of times after the fact I’ve gone "<such and such> was there? no way, I still haven’t met him".

  • AVOID TROUBLEMAKERS - defined by anyone lining shots up at the bar…usually these people are invincible and know it…it just isn’t worth being friends with the porcelain office for the morning when you could be at sessions if you can’t handle shots! JUST SAY ‘NO’! This probably includes avoiding me at the Red Party.
  • LEARN THE ‘HOUDINI’ - the houdini is well worth learning for those people you know just aren’t going to let you leave the bar without a bundle of abuse ;-)
  • UPDATE YOUR PHOTO - Putting a photo of yourself you took 10 years ago on your Twitter account really doesn’t help anyone identify you at conferences! Update your photo the week before you come to SPC11 on social networks so people can start to recognize you at the event!

SharePoint 2013 at Build - “SharePoint emulator for unit testing”


I’m a bit late with this post as I got back Saturday and noticed that Talbott Crowell’s had already posted 7 sessions that talked about SharePoint 2013.

As Talbott mentioned, most of these will actually be presented at SPC12 next week, but if you are desperate to see SharePoint 2013 content check out the Microsoft SharePoint Product Groups guys speaking: Rob Howard, Donovan Follette, Keenan Newton, Eray Chou, Thomas Melchelke, Jim Nakashima, Saurabh Bhatia, etc..

I actually attended the event last week…well Thursday and Friday, no thanks to Hurricane Sandy screwing up my flights and me not being able to escape New York until Wednesday afternoon.

I have been working for a while now giving feedback to the Visual Studio 2012 team on the new unit testing capability with stubs and shims in the tooling specifically around SharePoint 2010. David Starr does a great job of explaining this capability in generic .NET terms and then Joshua Webber talks about it 46 mins into it on the context of SharePoint 2010 server-side .NET object model shims. Check out the Testing Untestable Code with Stubs and Shims in Visual Studio 2012. I encourage you to check this out…sadly they didn’t get a slot at SPC12, but I will have the bits on my machine to show anyone who is interested at the event and will be doing a webinar on this shortly!

In a nutshell, what this allows you to do is wrap your existing integration test SharePoint code with a using statement and rather than it actually call SharePoint object model directly, it will call the shims which emulate SharePoint. This will make your tests run HEAPS quicker. Now they don’t currently have coverage for the whole SharePoint object model, but what’s missing you can actually write the shims yourself. I have been talking to Joshua and his team about have a community site for submitting shims for those that they have missed.

The shims currently do not support SharePoint 2013 as SharePoint 2010 that is in market was the priority for the Visual Studio 2012 team…but it will do in the next release I’m told.

At the moment, they do not do SharePoint client-side .NET object model shims, which I think would be real useful not only in SharePoint 2010 but also in SharePoint 2013 too! Hoping to get some feedback from community to pass on to Joshua so please let me know!

I think this is a great opportunity for SharePoint developers to explore the world of unit testing again, although PEX/Moles was out there and you could use things like TypeMock Isolator…these were not the easiest of tools to use. I’m hoping you will see the benefits of this tool and help the product team to continually improve these moving forward.

Same as Talbott’s blog post, here are the sessions on SharePoint 2013 listed from Build site on Channel 9:

Here they are sorted by highest rating first:

TechEd Australia Recording: Real World: SharePoint Customisation - Developer vs. IT Pro


The recording of the session I did with Mark Rhodes is now up on Channel 9! We came second in the Office track with a full room…people spilling out the door and sitting on the floor! Was a great event! This is a great webinar for anyone who is a Developer or an IT Pro to watch…!

2012-10-23-TechEdAustralia-01.png t-shirts for SharePoint Conference 2012


So, I’ve been busy this week chasing up sponsorship opportunities for this conferences must have personalized shirts.

A big thank you to MetaVis for supporting one set of t-shirts with the phrase “Working on it…” on them ala the new messaging from SharePoint 2013.

   The registration process will be open shortly to sign up for a FREE personalized t-shirt with your Twitter handle on the back.

[UPDATE] 100 lucky registrants got a shirt, if you didn’t make the cut there is still an opportunity to purchase your personalized shirt.

Pick Up & Volunteers

The shirts will be picked up at the SharePoint Community Hub manned by various volunteers. A big thanks goes out to all those that helped distribute the shirts with me last year.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact me so we can arrange time slots ;-)


Here are some photos from previous SPC’s where people have been lucky enough to get shirts! If you have photos of you in the t-shirt, please contact me.

SPC 09


@rutherfordm – thanks to Vizit for sponsoring shirts at SPC09

SPC 11


@cawood – Stephen Cawood posing in the “I’m just here for the SharePint” shirt!

@jennifermason & @wonderlaura from Rackspace posing for me cheekily!

What does SharePoint 2013 mean to the Visual Studio Developer Ninjas?

You may also be interested in: O’Reilly - SharePoint 2010 at Work


2012-07-27-Ninjas-01.jpgJeff Teper has concerned some community folk after Mike Watson posted something in the SharePoint Yammer community that pointed to a comment made around “Use SharePoint as an out-of-box application whenever possible…I’ve seen many SharePoint deployments where they would have been better off out of box and with the new UI we want to be really clear on that”. Wictor Wilen (MCM, MVP) made a great comment on this “that blog post and statement will be with us for a long time and for us dealing with clients the "We encourage you not to modify it […]" will really impact the business for SharePoint 2013”. And the definition of “out-of-the-box” is not restricted to just Visual Studio Development…we are talking JavaScript and HTML 5 tinkering too…all put the UI at risk for upgrades and operation supportability which is where Jeff is coming from.

Jeff does state “there will also be places where people write code which we want to support better in the new model but also want to encourage folks to be thoughtful about their code”…I’m kind of taken a back here. We’ve always been thoughtful of any customization…but the problem is…the platform can be customized and as much as you push back on customers asking for changes to the UI…they’ll pay for it and won’t care on your warnings. I for one am scared of the new NAPA framework, introduced by Jason Zander, that easily lets power users put together JavaScript code to manipulate the UI…that is Pandora’s Box a lot more so than SharePoint Designer in my opinion.

“ASP.NET is dead”

Doug Ware (MVP) has written up a great post on his opinions on what the new SharePoint 2013 preview means for developers. I think he’s a bit bold in saying “ASP.NET is dead”, considering the new remote-hosted app model encourages you to build web applications remotely from SharePoint platform.

To Doug’s point, a lot of the new UI stuff is back-ended by some pretty slick JavaScript and HTML5 elements in the 15 hive (root folder/whatever you want to bloody call it!). I’ve been saying for a long time, and to be honest, joined this march late…considering Marc Anderson (of SPServices fame) has been banging the JavaScript drum for a long time. As a managed code guy, I hated the thought of coding in client side language, one article that really helped me was by a British guy called Ben Padbury.

Getting you off of server-side object model

Ted Pattison also makes some good comments about Microsoft wanting to get you off server-side object model, mainly because Microsoft don’t want your code running in processes running on the SharePoint farm and therefore increasing the stability…especially for their Multi-Tenancy Office 365 environments. Ted also states the other reason is that the server-side object model was often a pain when upgrading to the new major version of SharePoint. I’m not necessarily sure that moving the customizations out to the new App model is going to solve this…after all, they are still going to be calling the client-side object model and that will change. Vendors are already witnessing issues as Office 365 SharePoint Online has updates that are affecting the expected results back from the client-side object model.

You can still write in server-side managed code in the new Apps…although you will be coding against the SharePoint .NET client-side object model and not the SharePoint .NET server-side object model, as you won’t be executing the code on the SharePoint server but a remote one (either Azure or something else). The only way now to write SharePoint .NET server-side object model managed code is to stick with Full-Trust solutions OR Sandboxed Solutions (limited) which unfortunately WON’T be in the marketplace.

Doug also points out that SharePoint 2013 preview also is now on .NET 4.0 rather than 3.5. I completely understand why the product team didn’t do this in the 2010 release as .NET 4.0 release dates were almost in parallel. The only product team brave enough to do that was the Project Server team who built in parallel to SharePoint Server 2010. Stephane Eyskens’s blog has a great overview of some of the .NET 4.0 features that you probably haven’t even looked at before with your Visual Studio hat on. So if you do write with the Solution model, you can now use .NET 4.0.

Who has the bucks for business solutions?

Rob Windsor (MVP) also makes a great point that “all bets are on” in the cloud for Office 2013 and that the “Solution model” (e.g. Full-Trust Solutions and Sandboxed Solutions) are being treated as deprecated features in this platform based on the voice of the TechNet and MSDN articles being published around the App model on “getting started with SharePoint 2013 development”. I do tend to agree, and have already voiced my concerns that the majority of EPG customers that are going to want to pay for development won’t be in Multi-Tenant environments and will be in Full-Control environments. Therefore in most cases, Full-Trust solutions will make sense.

Also, remember that the App model for Full-Control environments does not support OAuth because it doesn’t support Azure’s Access Control Services (ACS), so you have to use High-Trust apps which come with some more complexity.

Future-proofing environments

The debate on whether to “future-proof” environments for Multi-Tenant becomes HUGE. Eventually I think the cost that was incurred in future-proofing business solutions by building them as Sandboxed Solutions rather than going with Full-trust Solutions burnt a lot of people. The reason for this is because the effort involved to code around limitations of Sandboxed Solutions was extremely high and in some cases simply couldn’t be done putting limitations on business solutions. I suspect a lot of large EPG customers will continue to push with Full-Trust Solutions with the mindset that they’ll be in Full-Control environments for a long time to come.

Doug has also pointed out in another post another statement that is reminiscent of the Sandboxed Solution introduction of “develop X whenever you can”. The reality is if you already know how to smash out a Full-Trust Solution, why take the time to learn how to build Apps, much like the argument we had on learning Sandboxed Solutions.

More competition

Where Visual Studio SharePoint Developers were raking in the bucks in 2007 and 2010 world…I believe this shift to the App Model will definitely make the market more competitive. As people with HTML5/JavaScript, ASP.NET MVC, LAMP etc. skills will now be able to build remote-hosted web applications and build a very simple app package to point to this that can be submitted to the marketplace. The only learning curve for them is going to be the SharePoint client-side object model and some understanding of the building blocks available to them in the app subsite such as Lists/Libraries and everything that comes with that. This won’t happen instantly, but I used to work at a very strong .NET house that loathed SharePoint, and can now see them happily building EVERYTHING in the remote web application with very little integration and getting it in the marketplace.

Wrap Up

So as a Visual Studio SharePoint Developer writing on server-side SharePoint object managed code…personally I think you have no choice but to get your teeth into JavaScript/HTML5 and the SharePoint Client-Side Object Model if you haven’t already. This new wave will certainly put pressure on you, I don’t see EPG customers jumping to Multi-Tenant environments straight away but you can certainly bet in the next two years it’ll start to happen and the server-side object model won’t be an answer.

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Why we need a SharePoint 2013 marketplace


I’ve been working in SharePoint now since SharePoint 2003 and am a 3 time SharePoint MVP. I eat, live, sleep this stuff. When I found out that there would be a marketplace in SharePoint I immediately thought “opportunity”…and to be honest “SharePoint Fart App”. In all seriousness this is an amazing opportunity to get Microsoft ISV Partners exposure to SharePoint users both in Multi-Tenant environments like Office 365 and in Full-Control environments. I expect the usual suspects to be a part of this and it’s great to see Kodak and Pingar already in the SharePoint marketplace with apps from AvePoint, GimmalSoft, Lightning Tools, Nintex “coming soon”.

The marketplace is also a great way for new development teams to get in the game too. Anyone can sign up to submit applications to the marketplace. There is a rigorous validation process…trust me, I’ve been through it with the AvePoint MyView app. I’m glad it’s in place because it enforces the quality of the apps in the marketplace.

The history of marketplaces

If we look back at other marketplaces in the technology space, you can see an amazing amount of success. In my opinion, the best example of this is the Apple iOS marketplace. Mainly because of the adoption of the iPhone and iPad.

If you look at Microsoft’s history with marketplaces:

  • The Azure marketplace has been around for a while and not been too successful because the demand for the data market to date has been low.
  • The Zune music marketplace in my opinion has been the most successful. I am a huge consumer of Zune Pass for unlimited music. The app rocks and is now evolving into Xbox Music across all platforms.
  • The Xbox360 marketplace is something I have consumed a lot of with the amazing app support from media perspective.
  • The Windows Phone marketplace hasn’t had the adoption I would have liked as a consumer but I am hoping that Windows Phone 8 will improve the adoption by ISVs in building applications due to the improvements.
  • The Windows 8 marketplace is obviously in consumer preview right now but again I’m shocked that the adoption of apps has been low. In comparison to the apps in the Mac OSX marketplace is a lot less. I’m not sure why this is the case as the new development model is a lot more open with both XAML/.NET and HTML5/JS approaches.

So as you can see, Microsoft has a lot of marketplaces already…and guess what…none of these share the same platform which is a little bit of a concern.

Who can we expect to be in there


As I mentioned before Kodak, Nintex and Pingar are already in there and AvePoint, GimmalSoft, Lightning Tools are coming soon. Here is what they had to say about it.


I’d hope to think that the other key ISVs in the SharePoint space will get in there too: Axceler, Bamboo, BA Insight, K2, MetaLogix, MetaVis, Newsgator, Vizit and lots more. In some cases, vendors, like ourselves will have to build new apps rather than moving their existing solutions into the marketplace. This should lead to some awesome innovation leveraging the SharePoint platform to help business users improve their productivity.

What can we expect in there?

At AvePoint Labs, we’ve been working hard to come up with new ideas for apps for the marketplace. If you’ve read my application model article, you’ll understand some of the limitations that are there around site collection scope and below. This will affect the type of apps that are available.

For instance, AvePoint are re-known for the infrastructure management platform, DocAve, which relies on cross farm cross web application management control. For DocAve to work in the new app model, the app would need to be installed in every site collection and granted full control permissions. Something that the UI out of the box is not going to handle well. Therefore Full-Trust Solutions on a Full-Control environment is a better fit. We will be offering an approach to this in the marketplace in the future though.

Personally I think to start with the marketplace there will be a few types of apps:

Site template starter kits

I can see a lot of opportunity for people to build out sub sites and bundle these as apps to be purchased in the marketplace. I’ve already heard people talking about going after particular verticals here such as “Doctors surgery” solutions.

Branding solutions

With the improvements in themes in SharePoint 2013, you can be sure that people will work out a way to deliver these via the SharePoint-Hosted apps. Theme packs really didn’t take off in 2010 like I thought they would so let’s see how that evolves over time. There are some blocks on uploading masterpages, but there are ways of overriding CSS files which I’m sure some clever guys will work out.

Web Parts

There is already an app for World Clock and Weather app. I expect a Stock Ticker app to be close behind this also. The big limitations with making web parts available this way is that there is no API to automatically add a web part to the parent site collection homepage at the moment. The metro tiles on the site home pages can’t be manipulated by the apps to add the web part there. So all that you can do is have it show in the “Recent” in quick launch or show it in Site Content and make the user click through to it. Unfortunately this does move away from the concept of mashing up apps on the homepage of your site unless they add it manually. I can see this as a huge blocker here.

 Light integration

Pingar’s app is a great example of UI Custom Action integration into the ribbon to show how their external service can be called on the client side and leverage the client object model with trust to automatically classify list items in a list. The OAuth trust has been leveraged here to really highlight the power of given an app trust in a site collection to delegate control to the app. You’ll see this from other ISVs like Kodak, HP, DocuSign etc. in Document manipulation.

Enhancing existing functionality

Something that happened a little bit in 2007/10 was for ISVs/community to bring out solutions that enhanced existing functionality. For example, the CKS: Enhanced Blog Edition made the blogs more useable for public facing web sites. I can see a lot of apps being added to site collections and the app reaching out and tweaking subsites within it to make them better. One key thing here is that an app can’t go into other app subsites.

Business Applications

For the more sophisticated applications, typically that will already exist, I can see that remote-hosted apps with the Immersive Full Page approach will be a perfect approach to take. It will be interesting to see how existing web application platforms hook into SharePoint and take advantage of the OAuth trust between itself and SharePoint. Great examples of this would be how Dynamics CRM could hook into SharePoint and leverage the OAuth trust to drop documents into the parent site collection for the app.

Financial reward

The apps in the Preview must be free, and therefore I imagine some companies will wait until the launch of the marketplace where they can charge for apps before they release them. In terms of how much apps will cost…this will depend on the licensing models available. Currently there is no public information on this and I’m hearing this will be announced nearer the time.

It’s certainly going to open up a new sales channel to direct sales for Small Businesses that most ISV’s work with right now. The exposure to small ISV’s is going to be huge, most of which were not in any TAP and I would imagine scrambling now they have the Preview bits to build out their products. I’d expect to see a lot more apps in the next three months with this scenario.

Most current ISV’s licensing models are derived either by the size of the SharePoint farms (number of servers in farm). This model mirrors how Microsoft license Full-Control environments. Most of these licenses are obviously large investments for EPG customers, not something you’re going to throw on your corporate credit card and require a purchase order. Big EPGs are going to be buying direct from ISV’s for a long time to come due to being able to negotiating deals.

As ISV’s are looking for big deals, the marketplace isn’t going to be appealing unless they come up with killer commodity apps and therefore the focus may stay on direct sales and deploying their products via the solution model to the Full-Control Environments that EPG customers typically have.

The subscriber model in Office 365 has also been mirrored with ISVs with customers who are used to this model already. All of these models currently in SharePoint 2007/10 are hard to enforce and rely on an element of trust or code to validate the license.

I’m intrigue to see how some of the apps already mentioned in this article tackle licensing and don’t cannibalize their existing market and licensing model.

Community involvement

CodePlex has been around for a long time and the development community have engaged in submitting source code and add ons for SharePoint. The quality of the solutions in CodePlex vary from amazing (SPServices, CKS:Dev) to unstable. There is no vetting process in there and you have to be extremely cautious in using these. I hope that a lot of these developers will make their solutions in CodePlex available into the marketplace for free to get them more exposure. Apps can be given for free, so this is extremely compelling for adoption.

Trusting apps

One discussion that was had at a Boston User Group SharePoint 2013 panel with Andrew Connell, Rob Bogue, Asif Rehmani, Randy Drisgill, Marc Anderson and I. Something I raised was the concept of when you see apps in the marketplace place by the usual suspects like AvePoint, Pingar, BA Insight, Lightning Tools and Nintex…you’ll immediately trust them if you need to grant them “Full control’. But I see an issue in smaller unknown vendors on this trust front. A good example of this is that in the remote-hosted apps model, Microsoft will approve your application package that points to your app hosted in a web application remotely to SharePoint with full control. But there is nothing stopping a vendor from modifying that web application to do something different with its full control rights once approved.

Discoverability of Apps

The other big concern that keeps being discussed is how Microsoft are going to weight the apps in the marketplace. There is a rating system built into the apps that is used to display the apps and there are categories when you submit the apps.


I have been told that there is more logic in there to make sure the popular and high quality apps are surfaced for higher discoverability. Needless to say we can expect the “SharePoint Fart App” to appear, but hopefully no-one is going to make a fortune out of it like the iOS one ;-)

Country Availability

Another thing to point out is that it has not been confirmed what countries the marketplace will be available in. Most ISV’s will have a core market in North America, followed by EMEA and AsiaPac, but this will affect some ISV’s who target countries who aren’t use the marketplace and they’ll have to stick to their current model of selling software.

Wrap Up

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and who invests in being there for launch. I’d love to hear from people on their experience with the marketplace and what apps people are working on. I’ve started a #SPYam group specifically around this so please let me know if you’re interested.

Please make sure you check out my social bookmarks on all things SharePoint 2013 and development and if that’s too much, try my 5 star rated posts sub set.

Feel free to cross post this today and link to it on NBSP.