Marc Anderson has been around SharePoint since the early days, even before Microsoft’s collaboration software was called SharePoint. He’s seen a lot of changes to the platform in that time, but perhaps none so transformational as Microsoft’s move to put SharePoint in Office 365.
“The most recent release of SharePoint Services was at the end of December. Then came an update to Office 365, and that changed some of the markup in the forms, and that causes SPServices to break,” Anderson said. “It’ll be interesting as we go into continuous update to see how long [SPServices] holds together. The problem is that Microsoft doesn’t give any notice to updates… You don’t know what’s coming and there’s no way to test against it.”
The flip side of that, though, is that moving SharePoint into the cloud brings client-side development to the forefront. “Office 365 is ripe for client-side stuff because you don’t have to deploy anything to the server,” Anderson said.
SharePoint Services, a client-side development toolkit, got its start after Anderson read a “little blog post [by Mike Oryszak] about updating list items with Web services and jQuery. I tried it and it was fun. I just pushed a button and something happened,” he recalled.
Diving in more deeply, Anderson found patterns within the SOAP Web services, and realized that by wrapping them, he could offer an organized, regular way to instantiate permissions, or managed metadata, and many other of the services. He then started grouping the services together to create workflows and value-adds.
Back then, Anderson said, “When Microsoft released every three years, you could make reasonable assumptions about what would change” in SharePoint. “Now, you can’t even decide to take an update or not. You just get it.”
Anderson said he’s spoken to the product group at Microsoft about this. “They’re saying we need to have more conversations” about releases, he said. These days, most of Microsoft’s product announcements come in blogs, but he said that’s not sufficient. “They need to add documentation, because that is often not updated with what the blog says.”
This article is the second in a series of SharePoint experts and speakers at SPTechCon, April 22-25 in San Francisco. You can learn more about Marc and the sessions he will be delivering at SPTechCon here.