WSS4: Is CAML really dead?

Gary Lapointe has just published some new information on WSS4 based on a few KB articles that Microsoft released just a few days ago. The KB articles relate to the upcoming SharePoint Service pack 2 and the upgrade checker.

It seems that the next version of SharePoint, also known as WSS4 or simply SharePoint vNext, will move away from CAML as a rendering language for list views and field types. Now, I do have a certain amount of knowledge pertaining to rendering of data using CAML, and if there is any truth to the rumors, all I can say is: Thank you, Microsoft. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It seems that the ListViewWebPart from now on will rely on XSLT as the rendering language of choice. If you have never worked with custom SharePoint user interface development in views then you should really learn how, if only to realize how much better XSLT will be. CAML views are horrible, and many a fellow SharePoint developer is currently undergoing heavy psychiatric treatments from long-term exposure to CAML radiation.

The same seems to apply to custom field types. Custom field types in itself is a somewhat complex field, pun intended, and the rendering is more up to the developer than is the case for views. Still, any small advancement will make the SharePoint development experience better.

From the Microsoft KB article one can also read that something will happen to the custom Workflow actions architecture. These custom actions are used to add Workflow actions to tools such as SharePoint Designer 2007. The KB article only states that the file must be copied manually, although I do not see why this could not be done automatically unless there is more going on with the workflow infrastructure.

Of course, SharePoint 4 will likely use Windows Workflow Foundation 4 from the .net FX 4.0, so perhaps there are changes related to this.

All of this, by the way, is highly speculative. Don’t listen to rumors. I don’t know anything, but man do I hope for a change in CAML view design.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

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