New SharePoint development model triggers hopes, questions

ISVs and enterprise developers ponder new opportunities created by a revamping of the SharePoint platform

By , IDG News Service |  Unified Communications

Microsoft is also keeping the existing model of building applications.

"That's still there. We're not taking that away. You can still use it and we've even extended it in places," said Richard Riley, a Microsoft SharePoint director. "But now we have this new approach, which is all Web-based."

Nintex, which has been developing SharePoint applications for about 10 years, has also been working with Microsoft on the new app dev model's first wave of applications and is excited that its Nintex Workflow application will not only run on SharePoint on premise, but also on SharePoint Online.

"I'm grateful this new model exists. It gives us a lot of options," said Mike Fitzmaurice, Nintex vice president of technology. Nintex didn't even attempt to port its application to SharePoint Online before because it found the developer platform for it "incredibly limited."

Enterprise developers also came to the conference to get up to speed on the SharePoint 2013 app dev model. Lorie Hobart, an applications systems engineer at Wells Fargo, said her division, which is in charge of the bank's physical facilities, like its buildings and offices, recently moved to SharePoint 2010 but is looking ahead at what might be possible with the new version.

"My group is looking to create our own SharePoint environment to use more of what's available and build more user-friendly applications," Hobart said.

For example, it'd be ideal to create a data warehouse to house data from SAP and other line-of-business applications so that her group's end users could tap into it using their main work tools, like Excel and SharePoint, she said.

Kaveh Eshghi, a .Net developer at Black Ninja Software, was also at the conference and said it seems to him the development and deployment process has become easier, but it wasn't clear to him whether it would be a good fit for his company's work.

"So far, what they've shown us are really basic and simple things, but what happens when you're doing more complicated things? Will that be supported?" he said. "Most of the stuff we work on is more advanced and difficult."

In a blog post in July, Microsoft addressed this question, saying "the new models don't necessarily support everything the previous models did, and there will be many solutions that you won't be able to port over to the new models. This is one of the many reasons we will continue to support those existing solutions as well."

Eshghi hopes the app store will not be "saturated" with a lot of lightweight widget-type applications, making it difficult for enterprise applications to be found.

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