Me & My SharePoint [FrontEnd]

© Christian Stahl – All about SharePoint branding & customizations

Summary of SharePoint Conference 2012 — November 20, 2012

Summary of SharePoint Conference 2012

This time around I didn’t get lost too much in the large casinos. This was my third time In Vegas and I almost begin to feel like home in this city, not least because I have only been there in SharePoint business, so this place is for me a kind of SharePoint heaven with a lot of SharePoint fellow nerds more than a resort and gambling city. This year’s conference was as always great and it was in fact the largest SharePoint event ever with + 10,000 attendees and hundreds of sessions, hands on labs and a lot, exhibitions and of different social activities. Meet the Experts Besides of the sessions it’s the place for networking, to meet new as well as old friends from all over. This year I attended at the ‘Ask the experts’ at the Exhibit hall, at hands on labs, at dinners / parties so this days was overloaded with SharePoint in all shapes. The conference was well-organized and everything just worked as it should except for some technical issues regarding the Wi-Fi network and the Hands on labs. SharePoint 2013 – to the cloud Like what Ballmer said “For the cloud, where all in” – The keynote presenters delivered a clear message to the audience in tune with Microsoft’s cloud strategy – SharePoint 2013 is fully supported for the cloud and SharePoint is now built for allowing 90 days updates rather than product releases in three years intervals. For the credibility’s sake and to strengthen the message they used SharePoint Online for all demos in all sessions at least the one’s I attended. If I were to summarize this conference and SharePoint 2013 in three words it would be Cloud, Mobile and Social.

Spotlights from SPC12 & SharePoint 2013

The new App Model

One of the more interesting news is the new app model that gives us new options to build apps with JavaScript/jQuery & HTML5 and other languages for SharePoint and Office. Using the App model, code can live outside SharePoint and the implementation relies on protocols like OData & OAuth. The new App Model removes the requirement to develop in .Net server side code only and give us a new way to develop and integrate applications in the cloud. However, you can still take advantages of server side code, both farm and sandbox and in some scenarios this is the way to go. Take a look at MSDN library ‘Choose the right API set in SharePoint 2013’ for more information about this. However, I think the new App model will attract new types of developers and that we can expect new ideas coming in to SharePoint from new perspectives. SharePoint will for sure continues to evolve, can’t wait to see what comes out of this!

Yammer & Social

One of the main keys for the future of Microsoft and SharePoint is Social. Microsoft has recently bought Yammer for more than 1 billion dollar and this is because SharePoint as well as Office needs real social capabilities and Yammer fits well to Microsoft’s cloud, mobile and social strategies. The story has just begun and we will see deeper integrations of SharePoint and Yammer further on like shared identities and social flows. I think personally that this is just the right path to go for the future of SharePoint. To begin with Yammer will be a part of Office 365 including SharePoint Online for no extra cost, this is a really powerful combination of productivity and social services! Besides of Yammer, SharePoint 2013 have its own social set of Social features like sharing/following content, community features, micro blog and a more.

Web publishing and Enterprise content management

This is one of mine favorite areas in SharePoint, and there are several things that draws my attentions like:

  • Native support for HTML5/CSS3, what I have been waiting for this!
  • The new web part (CSWP) Content Search Web Part for cross site aggregation. It displays content that have been added to the search index and can for example display categories of a product in conjunction to managed navigation
  • Design manager that lets you create and import a set of branding files created outside SharePoint, this will simplify the branding process for pure web designers, no need for them to understand .net, master pages or page layouts
  • Device channels, now possibly to have multiple master pages per device.
  • Meta data driven navigation
  • Content authoring. A lot of new improvements for editors like Image renditions, better copy content from Word and new features for videos.
  • All the ‘under the hood’ investments like HTML rendering

Search

The search engine will simple provide the content that matches the query better than ever before and the narrowing and refinements functions will be the icing on the cake. FAST is now a part of the new improved search in SharePoint and it’s now the search engine that runs several functions in SharePoint like social, recommendations or analyzed user actions. The search works great just out of the box and are end user friendly but can be highly customized for specific needs. There’s several interesting features related to the search and if should pick just one it would be the ‘Continuous Crawl’ which means that changes in content can be reflected very quickly by the search result compared to incremental crawl engine.

SharePoint Designer & Branding

SharePoint Designer is still alive and you can do exactly the same branding and customization stuff that could be done before by SPD 2007/2010 but as you may know the design view/split view is gone by the new version. This means that it will be a harder for end users/business user to adopt SPD as a tool for branding and no code solutions, let’s hope the new possibilities with the new app model, VS LightSwitch or third part tools fills the gap for those users.

When it comes to branding, SharePoint have now a feature called Design Manager that let you convert standard HTML & CSS to a valid SharePoint master page. This means you can create the branding outside SharePoint with the tool of your choice. Note that you need the publishing feature enabled to use the design manager. When you need to create a ‘full SharePoint branding’ and you want to have full control of the markup or when you need to create a branding solution you still need SPD or Visual Studio in my point of view.

Another kid is the new Composite Looks, the new Theme engine in SharePoint 2013. This works really great when you need to add a custom look & feel with custom fonts and colors at a specific site. If you are coming to SharePoint Days 2012 – The Slovenian SharePoint conference next week, I’ll show you the highlights of branding in SharePoint 2013!

Stay in tune!
Christian