What I saw at SharePoint Connect 2014

Scot Hillier

by Scot Hillier on 11/24/2014

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Last week, I presented 2 sessions and a workshop at SharePoint Connect 2014 in Amsterdam. It was a top-tier event with many outstanding speakers and sessions. Reflecting on the week, I have a few observations about the SharePoint development community and my experience.

The Skills Gap is Closing

My breakout sessions focused on enterprise JavaScript and RESTful services. These sessions were not typical SharePoint app-model development sessions. Instead, they concentrated on the related development skills necessary for traditional SharePoint developers to transition their skills to the cloud. Many attendees I spoke with indicated that the sessions helped them visualize a roadmap for upgrading their development skills. However, other attendees also wanted to talk about the topics in greater depth because they were already familiar with some of the material. All this tells me that the SharePoint development community is evolving, but still has a way to go.

Migrating from Full-Trust is Still a Challenge

During the Q&A panel session, attendees overwhelmingly indicated that migrating existing solutions from full-trust to the app model continued to be a roadblock. Many were looking for the panel to give them "permission" to simply install their existing full-trust solutions in SharePoint 2013 on-premises and be done with it. While the panel generally agreed that full-trust solutions will probably find their way into SharePoint 2013, I cautioned that organizations should strongly consider rewriting poor-performing full-trust code as part of any migration process. My takeaway is that existing full-trust solutions are still impeding successful migration to modern app development techniques and organizations are still not fully planning for their replacement.

The Office 365 APIs are Surprising

My post-conference workshop was all about SharePoint app development, but I spent the last bit showing development with the Office 365 APIs. I took some time to explain the difference between developing SharePoint apps that launch from "inside" SharePoint versus Office 365 applications that launch from "outside" SharePoint, but can still make use of SharePoint resources. My sense was that this vision was surprising to people, but that it helped them visualize how SharePoint developers are actually just web developers with special knowledge of SharePoint resources.

My Laptop is Gone Forever

For the first time, I traveled overseas with nothing except my Surface Pro 3. This was a big decision for me. I had spent a week preparing all of my demos in the cloud ahead of my trip and then realized it made no sense to bring my laptop even as a backup. Both sessions and my workshop went flawlessly as I ran demos in SharePoint online and Azure with nothing more than Visual Studio 2013 local. I did have a brief scare before my first session when the infrastructure team didn't understand that I expected a hard-wired Internet connection, but that was quickly solved. I don't expect to travel with my laptop ever again.

Topic: Strategy and Adoption

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  • erm .. that post was from @MartinHatch :)
    (Expected to get a login prompt or something)
  • It was indeed a great conference and fully agree with your sentiment ... SP devs are getting there, but still a long way to go. Many devs I speak to still don't consider themselves equal to "mainstream web devs" when it comes to things like JS / REST / MVC / Entity Framework.

    Regarding the Surface Pro 3 .. bet you were glad when the Azure services came back up .. was touch and go for a bit there! ;) (perhaps a reason to bring a VM backup on a Portal HDD)
  • yo