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Why Microsoft SharePoint faces a challenging future

Jonathan Hassell | Dec. 5, 2013
IT pros like it, but can SharePoint deliver the advancements it needs to grow?

Yammer has already been named the preferred replacement for the News Feed feature on SharePoint Online and Office 365 tenants - but as of this writing, there's no concrete roadmap for when Yammer can be integrated with on-premises SharePoint, or how you might go about doing that integration once it's possible.

In a hybrid environment, therefore, you have one set of social capabilities on one collection of sites, and still another - probably preferred - set of capabilities on another site. All this for a feature designed to bring your employees together. When you step back and consider the absurdity of that situation, you begin to see some of SharePoint's challenges as it moves forward.

SharePoint App Store Model Hasn't Succeeded, Either
The SharePoint application model represents another bit of concern. Perhaps emboldened by the success of the Google and Apple app stores, or perhaps just throwing caution to the wind to the burgeoning SharePoint developer market, Microsoft decided to bring the app model to SharePoint.

Developers could write apps either for internal use for their own companies or for public consumption, and SharePoint 2013 would be able to securely run them in their own little worlds. There's even a model for the different types of apps you could have: You can have full-page apps, extension apps or app parts, which are essentially the old Web parts most of us in the SharePoint community have come to hate).

It seems like a great idea, of course. Many companies were developing solutions to run on SharePoint already, and the product itself had developed in a full-fledged platform, à la ASP.NET, running custom code that delivered all manner of solutions for different organizations. Being able to select both internal and third-party apps from a central console, complete any payment transactions and get that functionality ready to roll would have been a pretty big leap forward in the SharePoint space.

By all accounts, though, the app model has not yet taken off, even a year after the initial release of SharePoint 2013. In my opinion, there are two primary reasons for this:

They're in the wrong language. SharePoint apps are to be written in HTML and JavaScript, the languages du jour of the Web. But Windows developers and SharePoint developers know C#. They know ASP.NET. They don't care to step down in many ways to inferior Web languages simply to run within a Microsoft platform. After all, C# and the various .NET apparatus technologies have been the bread and butter of Microsoft's development model for some time. Many developers wonder why Microsoft would now push that investment to the side.

There's no consistency to the guidance given to developers. In the SharePoint 2010 era, Microsoft convinced everyone to write to a sandbox model. This meant, essentially, that SharePoint solutions ran within a restricted environment that limited the bad things that could happen when code ran within a SharePoint deployment. Much attention was given to educating the SharePoint consultant and developer that the sandbox model was where they wanted to be; as a result of this heavy attention, these groups really invested in training and developing for that model.


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