SP SIN Store Revival

Hola Amigos!

As you no doubt know, I’ve written a framework called SP SIN which allows you to inject stuff into your SharePoint pages without touching the master pages or giving users access to SharePoint Designer. And a ton of other cool stuff. For example, SP SIN is extremely extensible, allowing you to customize virtually every factor of the operation. Check out http://spsin.com/ for more information.

One of those “other cool stuff” things is an app store. No, I’m not talking about the mindbogglingly stupid App model in SP 2013 although that can certainly be included, but a real application store for SharePoint, working in SP2007, SP2010,  and SP2013. Oh, and any future version as well. Sadly, no SharePoint 2003 support, though. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I do so at .NET 2.0 🙂

Did I mention the SP SIN store extensions supports farm solutions, sandbox solutions, and, when I have time, the 2013 App model as well? And any future model that Microsoft throws at us as the newest, greatest thing since sliced bread?

And if you think that is cool, how about designing your own solution model? I plan on introducing the SIN package, a completely new solution model in SharePoint that will support pretty much anything you want, including all the existing models. Imagine having one solution deployment model that can deploy:

  • both farm and sandbox WSP, STP, APP packages
  • multiple packages at the same time
  • server side code (for example deploying custom SQL server databases or installing custom Windows applications like SharePoint Manager)
  • any combination of the above (for example two farm WSPs, a sandbox WSP, and an APP, plus deploying SharePoint Manager or SharePoint Designer to the server)

Don’t like this approach? Want something simpler? Well, the SP SIN store extensions supports deploying any type of solution package, so you can create your own as well.

I also want to build an actual App store, and I’ve even gotten some help with the design. I’ve built the core functionality which allows a much easier approach to getting your solutions into the store. In fact, if you have the WSP with five clicks, you can have your solution deployed to the store and ready to be installed by anyone that has the SP SIN store extension installed.

Don’t want me to control your application deployment? Want an internal organization store instead of a public one? Fine, the SP SIN store extensions support that too. I’ll add an extension that creates an application repository in Central Admin or somewhere else, allowing users with the appropriate permissions to install apps from the approved repository only.

But really, anyone can create their own app repositories and support whatever features they want. For example, my store will not include payments so it closely matches how the WordPress plug-in repository works. However, if you want to build a store that supports payments, fine, you’re welcome to do that if you want.

And because everything uses standard SharePoint deployment methods, just like SP SIN, you can even put your fancy new store in my store to have it deployed to whoever wants to use your store instead of mine.

Yeah, I know, it will blow your mind, but really, it’s just an example of how awesome SharePoint can be.

Here’s the thing… I’m limited in how much time I can spend on this because, you know, I get hungry sometimes and I need to eat. As such, it may be a long time until I can actually get down to doing all of this.

I have a lot of the code done already, and I’ve even set up a demo of the organization app repository. There’s plenty of stuff I haven’t done, though, so at best, this is alpha software only, and definitely not ready for production systems.

So, what I’m suggesting is that I put up early alpha code now, or shortly, so that your can start to get an impression of how it works. It will also allow you or anyone to start building components or stores yourself, and perhaps you’d even like to contribute to the core functionality by helping me develop.

To gauge interest in this, I’d like you to comment and let me know. If enough people show interest, I’ll put up an alpha version of the store extensions. Perhaps I should even do a public presentation of the SP SIN store and show you how it all works?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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And in Other News… SharePoint is Dead

I find that sometimes, I just lose the joy of writing, so I stop. Sometimes I’m too busy, sometimes I just lose a bit of, for lack of a better word, spirit.

It’s been a few months since I last wrote anything for public consumption. I’d like to talk briefly about what I’ve been doing and then tell you why SharePoint is dying. And, as often times, it is your fault.

Soy, me y mi.

For the previous months, I’ve been busy trying to get to know Costa Rica. I moved here in May, and although we’re quick to adjust, there’s a lot of new things to learn.

Which is awesome; I love learning. In fact, in the previous week, fuimos a una clase de espanol. Which I think means we went to a Spanish class. And I did that without Google translate. We had an awesome teacher, just for Lena and I for a week. Four hours a day, which is quite intensive. I’ve now put Spanish subtitles on Netflix to keep practicing, which would be very effective, except, of course, that I don’t really watch TV.

However, that doesn’t account for all the time since July when I previously wrote anything. I’ve been traveling around the US and a brief trip back to Europe. In the US, I spent time in Detroit helping a team of SharePointers in a big company better understand what is expected of them.

I then went up to Oregon to help a non-profit organization that works to eradicate or at least reduce poverty in a native American tribe. I’ll get back to this later, and I may need your help a bit, but in short, this was and is an awesome group of people that are working as hard as they can to help others get out of dire straits (and no, I don’t mean the band).

I then went back to Detroit to train a group of architects for a week before heading to Amsterdam to speak at a conference.

My wife has been in Norway for two months working on a cultural exchange project with North Korea, and had a bunch of north Korean kids come to Trondheim to do a performance with Norwegian kids.

In short, we’ve been busy. I’m sure you’re all thrilled to hear that.

Hang on… SharePoint Dead?

Ah, yes… I originally wrote about the death of SharePoint 2013 back in May, and since then, I’ve been seeing a lot of fear that SharePoint on-premises is dying a slow and painful death. The argument goes that Microsoft wants to do cloud only and that on-premises installations are not generating enough money.

Why do people think this? Well, there are a lot of circumstantial evidence, but very few real hard facts.

Microsoft famously cancelled the Microsoft Certified Masters programs, or whatever they were called towards the end. These masters were masters of on-premises installations first and foremost, and cancelling that program has been taken as a sign that Microsoft has started a long wind-down of SharePoint on-premises.

There’s been no official announcement about the future of SharePoint on-premises from Redmond. Bill Baer recently wrote a blog article saying:

We remain committed to delivering support and solutions for our customers whether in the cloud or on-premises, through cumulative updates, future service packs and content to ensure that wherever you have SharePoint deployed, behind the firewall or in the cloud, customers will continue to have the support they need to ensure the continued success and benefit of constant innovation.

Of course, there’s nothing here saying there will ever be a SharePoint 2016 or whatever the number will be, only that Microsoft will continue to update SharePoint. Note also that Mr. Baer works in Microsoft marketing, so you should trust him about as far as you can throw him.

All these things point in one direction, though, that SharePoint inside the organizations is dying. Right?

No. You’re an idiot, and should be ashamed of yourself. It is people like you that kill SharePoint on-premises.

Microsoft has given us a new toy (and I use toy with great care and thought) in SharePoint online. However, there’s nothing new there. SharePoint has been able to be hosted for years already. It’s a marketing message first and foremost; buy our stuff using a subscription model because that makes us the richest.

Interestingly, despite Microsoft’s own love for subscriptions, they do not offer a subscription model for their failed App experiment. Subscriptions are the absolute best solution for everyone, except for everyone else, that is. Talk about mixed messaging.

And as sheep, we rush to their support. After all, it’s not like they’ve ever screwed anyone over or told us to run in one direction before, only to slam the door shut when we had run as long as they needed.

The effect of us following their messaging, though, is that our customers start doubting too. Can it really be that the investments we’ve made in SharePoint on-premises has been wasted? Perhaps we really should play it safe (hah!) and just do as Microsoft says.

With the community doubting, our customers, clients, and organizations doubt too. That makes Microsoft even more sure that their on the right path and the push even harder. The result is that SharePoint on-premises may very well die, but only because we’ve stopped recommending it where it makes sense.

Ask yourself this: We’ve had SharePoint online for years. If it was such an awesome idea for everyone, why hasn’t everyone moved already? What changed, except a new message from Redmond, in 2013?

Here’s the cold, hard truth: SharePoint works. Why would you send a perfectly working car to the mechanic? You may want to get a tune-up every now and then, but you don’t change your working car to a truck, just in case it works too.

For some people, cars simply don’t work. In those cases, yeah, you get something else; a bike, a plane, walking, a taxi, or whatever works for you. However, the fact that others ride to bike in the morning doesn’t mean everyone else should ride a bike too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a death trap that will cost you far more than you ever thought possible.

So yeah, SharePoint online has a place; it’s just not as a replacement for SharePoint on-premises anymore today than it was two or five years ago.

And no, SharePoint on-premises isn’t dead.

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