SharePoint 2016 – What the future holds

October 14, 2013

First, I want to say that we’ve verified with a Microsoft resource that some of these details are indeed on their road map, however, as you already know, there is really no definitive details yet, since the product date is at least 2 years away from shipping.

With that, here are some focus areas we expect the product to grow:

Mobile

The mobile market and tablets are becoming more and more ingrained in our daily lives. This also means these devices are gaining popularity in the commercial world. SharePoint will likely have more mobile features, including a true responsive interface, scaled down page views, and a UI that will be further redesigned for a touch interface.

App Store

Ah yes the app store! Well, Microsoft has no choice now, because this is the way consumers think. Apple invented it, Google perfected it, Microsoft followed behind. This may not be a big deal today, but I believe the app store will grow and will undoubtedly become a big part of the SharePoint community.

Integrations

Microsoft will continue to make the question “What Does SharePoint do?” harder to answer by including more OOB integrations, and simpler interfaces to other Microsoft tools and, even perhaps some non-Microsoft ones. SharePoint has certainly found its niche in running our Intranets, so I believe they will continue to strengthen their position by including more CRM, Records Management, and other product integrations.

Cloud

I’ve heard a Microsoft rep tell me that Office 365 is going to overtake On-Premise installations by 2016. I don’t think so. Given the regulatory requirements, varying data footprint of companies, cost of bandwidth, and so on, its just very highly unlikely. So, I am sure we’ll continue to watch the cloud initiative come and go, but on-premise is here to stay for a while.

Update: Jan 13, 2014

Looks like I was right. On Jan 13, 2014 Jeff Teper, CVP Microsoft, announced that the future version of SharePoint will indeed have an on-premise component. However, the language remains vague.  Cloud offering makes perfect business sense in most cases, but customers are just not ready to let their data go off-premise just yet.

No-No to The Hive

Sticking your package payload in the hive will indeed be a thing of the past. I believe SharePoint will make it harder to publish and sell webparts that run unprotected code. So, for all you webparts developers out there who are still dumping your source into the hive, it may be time to look at alternatives.

ERP vs. CRM vs. ECM: A Changing Landscape

This really deserves its own blog entry. Long story short, the circles are converging quickly. I would suspect that if I were to stand in front of any CFO or IT manager and say “I can give you all your data through a single interface”, they would be very happy. SharePoint and Dynamics are close products, so we will have to see what MS does with the two packages in the next 24-36 months.

HTML5/JQuery

A long time ago I worked for a fellow who asked me “Why do you continue to resist technology?” when I mentioned to him that Silverlight and Flash are dead, and refused to build WebParts using those technologies.  Microsoft will rip out the rest of that dead (or dying) Silverlight interface, and start replacing it with HTML5 compliant pages. We can also hope that they will also rip out the reminder of the table soup from the Publishing pages while in “Edit Mode”.  JQ is still not shipped with SP2013, but I believe 2016 will finally concede and Microsoft will throw their weight behind the jQuery initiative.

Interface Design

We will continue to see the square flat look evolve. We will see less clutter in the interface. We will see a responsive design meshed in with a workstation/full screen view. We will also see technologies switch to more AJAXy delayed/lazy loading architecture that has the program bring up only the data that is needed. In other words, more good things to come.

In conclusion, if you are an organization who runs a lot of MS software on premise, SharePoint is a good choice for an ECM, Intranet, public website and a records management system. If you run SAP or ORA as your SOR, and are a “best of breed” sort of organization with a multitude of platforms and vendors, then we have many more options for you!

Why Skeuomorphism is Dead

October 13, 2013

So with SharePoint 2013 and Windows 8 we’ve seen a new “flat” design trend, right? Heck, even iOS7 “transformed” into a “funky new cybernetic” GUI (I bet Steve is rolling in his grave! LOL) Suddenly every icon is square..or a circle, and the old rounded corner is no more.

So, why is this so? My own theory is that computers are becoming more complex and there is a push to output more and more information and details onto various sizes of screen and types of device. With that, a good IA is going to try and balance out the UI to prevent clutter. So, flatten the screen and put the information forward. Adding natural elements to your design is fine, when you are trying to focus the user on the design, but it becomes a really serious distraction when you are trying to focus the user on the information. Hence, rounded corners, “3d elements”, “real textures” and “shades” — go bye bye. Not to mention, it takes a lot more raw CPU cycles required to output a bitmap rather than a simple color:

mov ax, 0600h
mov bh, 11110000
mov cx, 0000h
mov dx, 1010h
int 10h

Voila! Now your battery lasts longer! So with that, you can see there are very good practical reasons to drip the IO required to read the PNG into  memory, then blast it out onto a square surface, pixel by pixel.

Oh, and so what’s the deal with rounded corners? Read the Steve Jobs biography… more Skeumorphism. It’s pretty clear that he was the father of the rounded corner in personal computing and it stuck around as long as he had. Good riddance. I bet the next version of MacOS will be shockingly different.

 

SharePoint: jQuery 2 is not for you!

October 3, 2013

So the jQuery team released v2 a few months back and hopefully everyone had a chance to settle in. We have had much time with it, and although it wasn’t the shocker-level changes that we saw happen from 1.8 to 1.9, they dumped support for legacy IE/browsers: 1.10 API is exactly the same as 2.x, less the IE8/9 bits.

Given that most of our clients still run IE8, it will need to sit in the box for a while yet.  Now, v2 on SharePoint is pretty much a non-started today due to this limitation. The official MS compatibility charts show IE8 as a supported platform, so it won’t be for another 2 years that this wretched browser is going to finally go away.

If you want to get the most out of JQ, stick with > 1.10.x and be sure you plug your own namespace in when building SharePoint apps, otherwise your customers are going to find nasty surprises when they try and install third party WebParts or Apps!