In a post today to the Office Dev Center by Bill Baer, Microsoft announced the new SharePoint Framework Developer Preview (SPFx).
I was watching the Twitter feed from SharePoint Fest Seattle, and Jeff Teper (@jeffteper) announced the preview in his keynote.
In case you missed it, Microsoft publicly announced the SharePoint Framework at the big May 4 The Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco.
In case you get confused by all the new terminology for “software release” these days, I’d call the SPFx a pre-alpha. The Microsoft folks would say it’s more solid than that, but they do say that things may change, you should not use it in production (and truthfully, you can’t unless your Office 365 tenant supports it), etc. In other words, it’s ready, but not THAT ready.
As someone who can realistically claim to be one of the early client-side developers for SharePoint, I’m really excited about the possibilities here. When we build client-side code, we’re giving users of SharePoint a much better user experience (UX) – if we do things right. Rather than the old school “conversation” with the server – and the attendant postbacks – we bring the responsiveness right behind the glass of their device. The UX becomes far more intimate. People are used to this sort of UX from everywhere but classic SharePoint. The consumer Web and most other Web-based enterprise products have been there for a while.
If you’re coming from server-side development, I think this Brave New World is going to feel pretty weird for you. What I’d ask is that you give the SPFx more than one chance. If you dig into it today and find things confusing, or the documentation a bit light, or the tooling pretty weird, or the examples not quite up to snuff, stick with it. These are the early days. And since the documentation is in GitHub, you can probably contribute to improving it. And you can always use User Voice to add new ideas or vote other ideas to the top.
This is the first time Microsoft has put a development model out there and agreed that it will be how THEY build things in the future. No chicanery; no trickery. In fact, they claim that many of the new “experiences” we are seeing are built with the SharePoint Framework. I have some doubts that they are playing by the rules on this quite yet – the SPFx seems a bit lean to get to the types of “experiences” they are giving us – but they will abide by this pact.
Those of us who were able to attend one of the Developer Kitchens earlier this year and play with the early versions of the SPFx came away energized and impressed. Not ecstatic and blissful – most of us are realists after all – but energized and impressed. There are many holes to fill and we will encounter bumps in the road. But given the open source foundations of the SPFx, we can help drive this Brave New World forward with Microsoft. Now that’s a new thing, for sure.
You can find Marc’s original blog here: http://sympmarc.com/2016/08/17/the-sharepoint-framework-spfx-is-here/ along with Marc’s other great insights into SharePoint development.