I’m just now recovering from the SharePoint Conference and catching up on customer requests. I wanted to quickly share my impressions on what new features garnered the most interest at the SharePoint Conference last week.
1. Business Connectivity Services (BCS)
From my view, this was the big hit, far and away. The sessions were absolutely packed. There was a lot of discussion outside of the sessions; a lot of excitement. I thought the event did a great job of showing the basics (from the Ballmer keynote), to a broader overview and then a few deep dive sessions that got into coding against the BCS APIs using Visual Studio 2010 by Steve Fox. Great Stuff!
Here’s a quick link to the new BCS team blog for more info: http://blogs.msdn.com/bcs
2. Knowledge Management/Document Management
These sessions were also packed. From eavesdropping in the lunch line I heard a lot of people viewing the new document management capabilities as another big reset around ECM. All of a sudden SharePoint has a lot of credibility in the space because 2010 builds on all the best parts of 2007 and addresses some of the noted shortcomings. Managing taxonomy, metadata driven navigation, and the ability to refine your search terms in a document center scenario are all huge steps forward. Couple that with the new social capabilities and the ability to set policies and records retention across the farm and SharePoint 2010 is a big player in this space, all by itself. Add SharePoint search improvements and FAST for SharePoint and the story gets even better.
3. Service Applications
There was a lot of buzz around service applications. The changes to remove the SSP and provide a more flexible shared service model were well received by the partners and customers I talked to. Attendees also liked that this architecture is built in to SharePoint Foundation 2010 (not just SharePoint Server 2010, like it is in 2007). I love that the architecture is extensible, so partners can implement products and capabilities that easily snap-in to the environment. Administrators love that. Administrators also like that these services are managed in central admin, not a separate site. Everything is in one spot. The applications can also all be managed and scripted with PowerShell. There is a ton of flexibility with the IT Pro in mind – and the design allows for an organization to significantly scale up their SharePoint environment.
More info in this document: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262881(office.14).aspx
InfoPath – I think of this as the release where InfoPath goes from being a niche tool for a one-off form to a product that is used in many places within a SharePoint environment to take a site from out-of-the-box to a rich application.
Composites – rich solutions with no code has always been the dream. 2007 made a huge leap forward from 2003 but it still often requires someone with a lot of technical expertise to design a solution. And too soon a site owner is in SharePoint Designer and staring at HTML/CSS code with no clue. 2010 changes this. SharePoint Designer 2010 makes some huge tool changes to simplify the experience. The BCS and InfoPath also contribute to the ability to build composites. I loved the last session of the conference where Nick Dallett showed how mash-ups could be built using InfoPath. Powerful!
Social Computing – it is great to finally show all the great new social computing capabilities in 2010 without an NDA. I think this is a huge step forward from 2007. I believe in the next three years these technologies will continue to evolve and it will truly change how business is done, especially as more and more millennials enter the workforce. This is one area where we’ll continue to rely on great partners like Newsgator to innovate on top of the SharePoint platform.
Client Object Model – I had a few consultants tell me how excited they were about this. Client-side access to the server object model through a subset of members and types can make a developer’s job much easier in certain cases. More SharePoint 2010 dev resources here
New services (Access, Visio, Word, etc.) – I don’t have enough time to get into each of these, but I definitely heard from a number of attendees how they were excited about some of these new capabilities. There is some great content posted already on this. Here’s one good post where Word Services is mentioned as the favorite feature in SharePoint 2010. I don’t know if I’d put it in that category but I can definitely relate to the scenario it addresses. Goodbye KB #257757. I will not miss you.
I’m enjoying reading all the other impressions and excitement coming out of the conference. Much more to come as SP2010 Beta gets released next month!