Day 1 of the SharePoint 2010 Evolution Conference

I turned up nice and early at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre to settle in and partake of the lovely breakfasts that they provide. I promptly managed to drop jam on my jeans…not the best of starts, but I managed to clear it off with a bit of water and no-one seemed to notice so I think I got away with it…

The first day started with the key note, hosted by Steve Smith, Eric Shupps, Spencer Harbar and Brett Lonsdale, summarising the ‘Evolution’ of SharePoint since it’s roots in Tahoe, through SharePoint 2003 (which is when I was first introduced) and then SharePoint 2007, and then hinting at what is to come. All very well but where’s the new stuff, I hear you cry. Rather than go through every session I attended I’m just going to pick out the highlights, if you want my insights on each of the sessions, follow me on Twitterand look at what I tagged with #spevo.

The first session I attended was Eric Shupps’“Introduction to SharePoint 2010 development”, not a session I was planning to go to (I’m not going to dwell on the effects the Icelandic eruption had on the conference (read this postby Eric for a real good insight!), lots of people couldn’t make it, lots of people stepped in and many people presented far more sessions than they were intending to, shame the other guys couldn’t make it but there’s always next year!). As it was, Eric really did lay the foundations for the rest of the conference, many of the things he showed us really became a recurring theme throughout, such as:

  • Visual Studio F5 deployment
  • Sandbox solutions
  • SharePoint deployment configurations
  • Client object model
  • Native linq for SharePoint

Chris O’Briendid a really good session on application lifecycle management, which was all about how to upgrade your solution beyond its initial release. Before getting into the upgrade process, he started off listing a few of the new development ‘features’ offered by Visual Studio 2010 and SharePoint 2010.

  • Ability to import a SP2010 wsp into VS2010, which will ‘disassemble’ the wsp into component features for content types, columns etc
    • Advantages
      • Generates features for everything
      • Quick way to get at the xml for specific columns and content types
      • Granular, you can select which pieces from the wsp you wish to import
    • Disadvantages
      • All content types are generated, including system ones
      • Cannot handle bcs external content types, code workflows, SP2007 wsp’s
      • Web part properties are saved as binary, so are difficult to manipulate
  • Event receivers on specific lists
  • Property bag objects
  • Web template definitions
  • Custom action for adding javascript to a page
  • Upgradeable feature framework

The upgradeable feature framework essentially defined the rest of his session. The mechanism hangs off the version property that was always present in the feature xml but never did anything, now its extremely important (if you didn’t have a version specified in your xml, version was implied). You now have some new xml that can be added to a feature where you can specify what upgrade actions to take and what version range to apply your upgrade actions to. Through the xml you can add columns to existing content types, deploy new items through adding pointers to new elements.xml files, repoint files to new locations. There is also a featureupgrading event that you can attach code to, to do just about anything else. See this msdn articlefor further information on upgrading features.

Eric was back for another session on customising the visual studio 2010 sharepoint deployment process. This was of interest to me as the 2007 process is somewhat ‘clunky’! The key points I picked out of this was how easy and consistent the whole deployment process is, its simply F5 and that’s it. Visual Studio packages all your features into wsps, retracts them if they are installed, deploys, activates and attaches the debugger all in one hit. Microsoft have made the whole process fully extensible, so you can do whatever you want through code. You can use the Microsoft.VisualStudio.SharePoint.Commands api to create custom solution commands to add into visual studio through vsix project types.

The other highlight of the day for me was SharePint. Had a great time catching up with some friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Didn’t stay too late, as its a long way for me to get home and an early start to get back again in the morning. Overall a great first day, and I was looking forward to day 2…

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