You probably know that Microsoft released literally thousands of pages of documentation on SharePoint 15 (or SharePoint 2013, as I believe it will be called). Most comprehensive is the less intelligible open specification documentation, although that’s also where the good bits are.
You probably also know that I’m highly focused on learning what’s new on any new SharePoint version and that I write a USP Journal series that details this research and the findings. In the first issue, now freely available to members of the USP Journal mailing list, I wrote about the new App store.
You can read more about the series on the SharePoint 2013 Beta series webpage.
Here’s the third part of what I wrote about the new App Marketplace (and also the final part of this mini-series, at least for now):
Although probably not for the layperson, the protocol documentation also reveals a rich framework for managing Apps, rights, and licenses. This means that not only will there be a SharePoint App marketplace from Microsoft, but it will also be possible for third-party vendors to build their own marketplaces.
Already there are several vendors who do this, with varying success. Although the new marketplace model may seem to compete, I am certain that most of these vendors will welcome better tools for building their solutions, deploying their products and services, and even competing with Microsoft in providing the best applications for users.
One clear sign of this is that the SPWeb class, which in the object model represents a site in a site collection, contains a new method in the SDK called LoadAndInstallApp. This method allows developers to send an App package into the web and install it.
Note: There is a class called SPSolutionExporter which may trick someone to believe there is a way to export an app, but this class exists in SharePoint 2010 and is only use to export a site as a template to the solution gallery.
I have found no evidence, and it would be strange if there were, of a method to export Apps using built-in functionality. I’m sure someone will make it, though.
Beyond these functionality extensions, the SPApp model also supports easy database provisioning. Many custom applications require data storage, and with SharePoint 2010, the methods for doing so is limited to what are known as Service Applications.
The problem, though, is that Service Applications can be difficult to build and maintain. When developers want custom data storage, they often either store data in SharePoint itself, or just build a custom database outside the realm of SharePoint, adding burden to administrators and dependencies on external resources.
Hopefully, the new functionality in Apps allow for easier provisioning of custom databases so that this hassle is removed from the development cycle. The methods suggest so, even including the aforementioned support for SQL Azure databases, but of course, nothing is known at this point.
I’d like to mention that Apps are deployed on sites (SPWeb) or possibly even as sites. That means you can deploy an App highly targeted to ensure you get the functionality you need only where you need it.
Note: I mentioned security as a main focus of the SDK App documentation. There is a rich model for ensuring applications can’t behave in a way you don’t want and for ensuring only the right people get access. However, I’m not going to detail these features in this issue because of space constraints.
The huge question, however, is whether SharePoint Apps will be full farm solutions or just sandbox solutions. I have some thoughts on that too, but I need to do a bit more research first.
Also, I’m thinking that these features are what’s going to be most important to most readers, but please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
This article is an excerpt from the first issue of the USP Journal SharePoint 2013 Beta series. The issue contains more on the SharePoint App Marketplace as well as additional information, comments, news, and rumors. You can get the first issue free of charge on the issue web page.
Combined, this mini-series comprise only the content related to SharePoint Apps from the first issue. Later issues, included in the subscription, contain even more information, both in SharePoint Apps and other new features.
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