SharePoint 2013 Apps – Inspirational

Posted on January 11, 2014

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SharePoint 2013 Apps, what’s new, we had them in SharePoint 2010 didn’t we? Yes, and a lot has changed, but then again for those with a significant investment in SharePoint 2010 nothing you should have to worry about. Let me explain…

  1. Your investment in SharePoint 2010’s full or partial trust sandbox app models will still work and are still supported. With the single caveat that you (or your developers/Partner) know how to code for SharePoint and are not doing anything that is knowingly coded outside the functional support envelop of SharePoint 2010.
  2. In SharePoint 2013 Microsoft has opened up just about every SharePoint operation from the Client-Side Object Model (CSOM). Yup you read that right, from your client (workstation or other unattached compute platform) you can leverage SharePoint operations without installing anything on the server.
  3. Following hot on the heals of the security concerns that will be spawning in your mind from the statement in Point 2 above, Microsoft has implemented a robust security layer around the new App model that effectively constrains access, it’s a very neat solution, perhaps a subject for a future blog.
  4. The new SharePoint App modelled solutions run with NO SharePoint server side code. Magic? No, a very modern approach to server architectural design that is much in the Cloud paradigm.

Let’s face it if this was not the case then Microsoft would be building a road to perdition for itself. Instead Microsoft has taken a very creative approach to supporting the past whilst fully embracing the future, and fully underwriting their Cloud credentials and intent.

The future is flexible, inclusive and interoperable. You no longer need to be a .NET programmer to write fully featured apps for SharePoint AND deploy them commercially. With core web development skills SharePoint 2013 is now a portal for all.

So the answer is YES you can continue developing in the old models, but the question to ask yourself is why would you ie: legacy investment maybe, but not beyond the next refresh of said legacy app I would postulate!

Pre SharePoint 2013 organizations struggled with opening up functionality to their business users and third party developers because of the impact on the SharePoint server itself will benefit hugely. Previously it was necessity to deploy code on the server, even with the sandbox options. This meant lengthy protracted development cycles and high friction IT involvement, multiple instances of Development and Staging environments, all of which = EXPENSIVE. No longer, well not true, you can do it the old way as I say but if you have a new app requirement or an old app past its sell by date then why would you invest in such pain!

The SharePoint 2013 App model changes all of this. Bringing great benefits  to many use groups:

  • ISV (Independent Software Vendors), as just one use group, should see as a gateway to accessing the Billion+ SharePoint / Office user audience, and start leveraging SharePoint and Office365/SharePoint online for that matter.
  • External software houses should see it as a new way of selling functionality into the biggest document management and collaboration ecosystem in the world.
  • End user organizations and internal Dev teams, the old world reasoning has been stripped away for new world time efficient, rapid delivery rich experience, a low or zero ownership cost future approach to commissioning and consuming business IT functionality.

For example:

  • Leverage existing web app backend assets and develop new or additional interfaces in standard Web technology. The CSOM functionality can be accessed using .NET / Silverlight for the power developers and or using the JavaScript API, and REST API’s for any competent web developer.
  • Self-Hosted SharePoint 2013 Apps are hosted on a separate server and therefore can run on ANY operating system, which means supporting the widest scope of application server choices known to developers. This empowers the solution with whatever server side functionality it wants to run on the self hosted platform.
  • Azure Provisioned. This is the real ‘secret sauce’ (which isn’t very secret actually as it is very well documented with plenty of sample code on TechNet) An application designed to be deployed in Windows Azure in its own discrete Azure instance. So when a user requests the app for their SharePoint instance the app informs the user that it needs to be deployed in Azure and that resource is then automatically billed to that user/organizations SharePoint online account. This can be used for on premise as well as SharePoint Online/Office 365.

The magic of the Azure Provisioned SharePoint 2013 application for any ISV is there is NO cost associated with hosting it themselves. This is pure Cloud economics and dynamics coming into its own. For organizations, individual business units purchasing through an EA similar economic benefits apply, not to mention the operational efficiency gains:

  • Instant access to functionality
  • No lengthy deployment process friction with IT departments
  • No procurement negotiation headaches with infrastructure (assuming the EA is in place the rates are fixed and discounts already won).
  • Built in upgrade process that saves IT department’s maintenance time.
  • SharePoint Organization App stores, that can control filtered access to the SharePoint Public Store to allow vetted apps or trusted vendor applications only to be accessible.
  • Leverage existing application investments, Data and Business logic layers can be leveraged requiring only a front end re-write to integrate with organizational SharePoint environments and authentication.

I repeat there is the old way or the future play……

For more information I would suggest a visit to the Microsoft Office blog site ‘Introducing apps for the new Office and SharePoint and the Office Store’   before heading into TechNet and MSDN.

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