SharePoint 2010 overview

SharePoint is a collection of products and software tools by Microsoft that mainly provides collaboration functions, process management, searching and document management. Currently, the most popular version is SharePoint 2007. At this very moment Microsoft is working very hard on releasing the next version of the product – SharePoint 2010. This article will try to cover areas such as: what new features will be there, what changes from developer’s standpoint, what are the requirements, release date and others.

Naming
The product is no longer code-named “14”. The official name is Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. The ‘Offfice’ part of the name finally drops out. The Office brand will no longer include Server side components (such as SharePoint). It now clearly refers to the client applications, such as Word, Excel and etc.

On a separate note, Exchange 2010 will be shipped separately of Office (beta is out already).

New Features

  • Groove (document collaboration application, acquired by Microsoft) is now being renamed and transformed into Microsoft Office SharePoint Workspace 2010.
  • SharePoint 2010 is not going to support Internet Explorer 6 (awesome). However, it will be supporting Firefox 3.x on Windows and perhaps even Firefox 3.x and Safari on non-Windows platforms.
  • Master Data Management (MDM) will be integrated with Office 14.
  • SharePoint 2010 will be able to interact with other CMS systems through CMIS.
  • You will be able to map SharePoint lists directly to database tables, which will provide great performance and scalability, especially on large lists.
  • There will be Silverlight support and maybe AJAX!
  • SharePoint Designer will support saving workflows to re-use for provisioning.
  • BDC might support Updating and Inserting data
  • Faceted Search
  • FAST Search for SharePoint. A new version of FAST Search for SharePoint at a lower cost.
  • “Web edit”“Microsoft has made it much easier for users to customize their own sites in SharePoint 2010. A new feature called Web edit allows site owners to edit their sites almost as if they were typical Office documents, making it easier for them to carry out common Web editing tasks like uploading and changing images or editing text.”
  • Other user-focused upgrades include the ability to use Office themes in SharePoint, for example by customizing a team site with the color palette of a SharePoint slide deck.
  • Read Visio documents in SharePoint
  • Improved administrative capabilities with a dashboard that uses the ribbon interface
  • Set of tools to monitor server farm health and data performance
  • Standardized UI across all Office products, browsers, mobile devices
  • Open API support


The free (and light) WSS version of the product will still be available, although there is no much information regarding it. Microsoft announced that it will get a lot of new features and will be a “great release”.


Developer tools
So, having said all that, what changes from the developer perspective? Is our life going to become easier, or even harder?

Microsoft announced “deep support for industry standards” and the main development tool will be Visual Studio 2010. It will ship with comprehensive support for development in all SharePoint areas – Web parts, features, solutions, content types, etc.

Deploy and debug from VS
You should be able to build, deploy and debug SharePoint applications directly from Visual Studio! If this is true, it will save us a lot of time!

Also, there will be a new Server Explorer window within VS, which we will use to explore SharePoint objects such as: Sites, Lists, Documents and other.

The Feature Designer embedded in Visual Studio 2010 will provide a detailed look at all the components of a Feature.

Package Explorer will provide you a WYSIWYG view to your package. You should be able to re-arrange items within the package by drag&drop!

There is extended support and integration of the Team System, if you are into this kind of a Source Control.

Requirements
It is a good idea to start getting prepared for this release of SharePoint, as it has very specific system requirements.

  • SharePoint 2010 will be 64-bit only
  • SharePoint Server 2010 will require 64-bit Windows Server 2008 or 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • SharePoint Server 2010 will require 64-bit SQL Server 2008 or 64-bit SQL Server 2005.
  • As mentioned, IE 6 won’t be supported.

Out of the article:
So, what can you do today to get into the best shape for SharePoint Server 2010?
1. Start by ensuring new hardware is 64-bit. Deploying 64-bit is our current best practice recommendation for SharePoint 2007.
2. Deploy Service Pack 2 and take a good look at the SharePoint 2010 Upgrade Checker that’s shipped as part of the update. The Upgrade Checker will scan your SharePoint Server 2007 deployment for many issues that could affect a future upgrade to SharePoint 2010.
3. Get to know Windows Server 2008 with SharePoint 2007, this post is a great starting point.
4. Consider your desktop browser strategy if you have large population of Internet Explorer 6 users.
5. Continue to follow the Best Practices guidance for SharePoint Server 2007.
6. Keep an eye on this blog for updates and more details in the coming months.

And here are two interesting Q&As:

Q: Why are you only supporting the 64-bit versions of SQL Server 2005 or 2008 for SharePoint Server 2010?
A: This decision was based on our current test data for SharePoint Server 2010 and real world experience from customers running SharePoint Server 2007 with 32-bit SQL Server. SharePoint performance and scalability can benefit significantly from 64-bit SQL Server and the throughput increases are significant enough for us to make the difficult decision to only support SharePoint Server 2010 on 64-bit SQL Server 2005 or 2008. It has been our strong recommendation for some time that SharePoint Server 2007 customers take advantage of 64-bit SQL Server due to the inherent performance and scale benefits it can provide.

Q: Where can I find more information on the advantages of 64-bit hardware and guidance on how to migrate SharePoint from 32-bit to 64-bit.
A: These two TechNet articles are a good starting point;

Release date
According to Chris Capossela (senior vice president of Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Management Group) SharePoint 2010 will enter a technical preview in the third quarter of 2009 and will release to manufacturing in the first half of 2010.

Beta
Microsoft announced that it is now testing the software in an invitation-only technical preview, with a public beta to follow later this year. It focuses on a number of its enterprise customers and target specific enterprise deployment scenarios.

So, there is still some waiting to be done. But waste no time, instead, start preparing your 64-bit environments!

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