Tuesday, June 19, 2007

LINQ to SharePoint 0.2 Alpha to Meet Major WSS 3.0 Template/Apps Surge

Bart De Smet's LINQ to SharePoint - Announcing the 0.2 alpha release post yesterday and Mary Jo Foley's SharePoint: Microsoft’s Web 2.0 hub column today are an interesting coincidence.

Bart's enhancing LINQ to SharePoint with these new features:

  • Enhanced support for SharePoint list field types, including Lookup and LookupMulti fields with lazy loading support and subquery support
  • Changes to the entity model used by LINQ to SharePoint, in preparation for update support down the road
  • Optimization of the CAML queries generated by the query parser
  • Support for First and FirstOrDefault query operators
  • Introduction of a CamlMethods static class with helper functions, including DateRangeOverlaps
  • Support for Now and Today elements
  • Multiple Where clauses per query are supported
  • SpMetal improvements and separation of front-end and back-end functionality, allowing for hosting of SpMetal functionality in other environments (such as an IDE)

Bart also announced that work is starting on the 0.3 Alpha version that will include update capability. Current code, a draft of the technical spec and the first unit tests for the query parser are available now on his CodePlex site. Final 0.2 Alpha code will be  ready in a few days.

Bart picked a great data domain for his third-party LINQ implementation. SharePoint is getting much more of Microsoft's attention and resources as the company prepares to repulse the attack on its Office hegemony by online competitors Google, et al.

Update 7/26/2007: Jeff Raikes reported during the Microsoft's annual financial analysts conference that SharePoint generated $800 million in revenue during fiscal 2007. (From Joe Wilcox of Microsoft Watch).

SharePoint "Social Computing" Enhancements

Almost simultaneously, Mary Jo Foley announced the availability of the Community Kit for SharePoint (CKS) 2.0 beta, which opened on the CKS CodePlex site Monday. CKS 2.0 adds these features to Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and its big brother, Microsoft Office SharePoint Services (MOSS) 2007:

The Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog's June 18, 2007 Community Kit for SharePoint 2.0 Pre-Release announcement says:

The ultimate goal of the CKS is to enable community oriented features and solutions by leveraging, enhancing, and extending SharePoint as a social computing platform.

100 "Next-Generation" SharePoint Business Apps Coming

Mary Jo also reports that Derek Burney, general manager of Microsoft's SharePoint Platform and Tools group, will commit today at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference to delivering 100 "next-generation" business applications (not templates) over the next 12 months to SharePoint users for internal use by Microsoft employees.

Sandy Kemsley, who's covering Enterprise 2.0 in her EbizQ Column 2 blog, didn't mention anything about this topic in her Enterprise 2.0: Derek Burney item. The same is true for Michael Sampson (Michael's Thoughts, Notes on Derek Burney, "Amplify the Impact of Your People with Enterprise 2.0 Technologies"), John Eckman (openparenthesis, Liveblogging Enterprise 2.0 - Microsoft’s Derek Burney), and Mike Gotta (Collaborative Thinking, Amplify the Impact of Your People with Enterprise 2.0 Technologies). Michael, John and Mike mention "Next Generation Applications" but not that Microsoft is giving 100 of the them to users.

Update 6/20/2007: According to later reports in Network World (Lotus, Microsoft jostle to land social networking customers by John Fontana)and eWeek (IBM, Microsoft Show Web 2.0 Wares by Renee Boucher Ferguson and Darryl K. Taft) articles, the 100 apps will be for internal use only. Fontana writes:

In addition, Microsoft said it is committing to build 100 social networking business applications before June 2008 for use inside the company. One currently in development is SharePointPedia, which helps users find SharePoint technical and support information from both Microsoft and other sources.

If SharePointPedia is an example, at least some internal apps might make reach SharePoint customers in the form of templates. According to Lawrence Liu's post in the CodePlex site for CKS:SharePointPedia:

Microsoft is embarking on an ambitious project to create an application codenamed "SharePointPedia" that will be used to enable a "community driven and supplemented content lifecycle." ... [I]t's being designed (yes, the project kicked off just last week) to be used primarily by the community. ...

SPP is scheduled to go live ... by the end of October.

Community Kit for SharePoint Background

The Community Kit for SharePoint Vision and Scope Document describes CKS:

At the most basic level, the CKS is a site template that enables practically anyone to create very quickly a functional community website on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. The “Standard Edition” will require nothing more than the out-of-the-box Web Parts that come with WSS 3.0. In this way, the CKS:SE is just like the Application Templates for WSS, but that is where the similarity ends.

Instead of being solely developed by Microsoft, the CKS will be a collaborative development project hosted on CodePlex, an online software development environment for open and shared source developers to create, host, and manage projects throughout the entire software development lifecycle.

Here's the CKS vision statement from Project Management and Evangelism Lead Lawrence Liu:

  • A set of best practices, templates, Web Parts, tools, and source code that enables practically anyone to create a community website based on SharePoint technology for practically any group of people with a common interest.
  • A technology framework that sits on top of Windows SharePoint Services or Office SharePoint Server and can be further customized or extended to suit the community website implementer’s needs.
  • A shared source community development project that is provided at no cost and allows anyone to use for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

As mentioned in the earlier Vision and Scope Document quote, you don't need to run a pricey Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 version:

Targeted Platform: Given that Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 was released on November 16, 2006 and is available for free to licensed customers of Windows Server 2003, the development efforts on the CKS should be targeted at this version of SharePoint. Opportunities for “feature light up” when Office SharePoint Server 2007 is present should also be considered.

Just Say No to Web and Enterprise Two-Point-Oh?

"Web 2.0" and "Enterprise 2.0" are two terms that I've come to distrust—if not despise—as overhyped and basically without meaning. However, Dion Hinchcliffe's May 2006 A round of Web 2.0 reductionism item and July 2006 Enable richer business outcomes: Free your intranet with Web 2.0 post shed some light on the two topics in the enterprise.