SharePoint 2010 will be one of the most exciting products that Microsoft has ever released. There are many new features, a small number of which have been announced on the SharePoint 2010 Sneak Peek site. Here are the top four things developers can do today to prepare for SharePoint 2010.
Plan to Upgrade Your Existing Code
This might seem like an obvious point, but you should plan time and resources to upgrade your existing code. A large number of existing SharePoint 2007 solutions will continue to run in SharePoint 2010 without additional work, some will need to be upgraded, and a few will need to have additional development to make them compatible for SharePoint 2010.
Visual Studio 2008 includes a set of templates for creating SharePoint 2007 workflows, and projects built with these templates will upgrade to Visual Studio 2010. Projects built with the Visual Studio Extensions for Windows SharePoint Services (VSeWSS) 1.2 or 1.3 will upgrade to Visual Studio 2010 by running those projects through an upgrade tool.
In specific cases where an API is deprecated, Microsoft will provide detailed written guidance for developers on how to upgrade custom code, and any deprecated API’s will issue warnings on compile with recommendations for changes.
Upgrade Your Development Environment
SharePoint 2010 will only be available in a 64-bit version. If you are running a 32-bit environment, you should make plans to upgrade your development environment to 64-bit today. You should also deploy SP 2 as it contains a great tool called the Upgrade Checker, which will scan your environment for many issues that could affect a future upgrade to SharePoint 2010.
The Upgrade Checker is a command that is run from the stsadm.exe administrative utility that ships with SharePoint, accessed by using this command at the command line:
STSADM.EXE -o preupgradecheck
The output of this command is an XML file that will provide information about your existing environment, allowing you to address potential hurdles for upgrading your existing environment to SharePoint 2010.
Upgrade Your Environment to Use Visual Studio 2008 for Development.
As mentioned before, solutions created with VSeWSS 1.3 will have an upgrade tool available, providing a clear migration path for your solutions to take advantage of SharePoint 2010 in the future.
Another important upgrade you should apply to your environment is the browser itself. SharePoint 2010 will not support Internet Explorer 6.0 (IE 6.0), so upgrading to the latest supported browser versions will be key. In addition to IE 7.0 and IE 8.0, SharePoint will support additional major browsers such as Safari and Firefox.
Upgrade Your Processes
If you aren't already packaging your solutions using WSP solution packages, you should upgrade your team development practices to ensure that you are building and deploying WSPs. SharePoint 2010 has new technology that makes this solution deployment format more valuable.
There are many benefits to using the WSP packaging format, including the ability for administrators to easily deploy a solution to all servers in the farm through the administrative web UI while providing the ability to retract them from all servers in the farm as well. The WSP should be the unit of deployment for deploying code and artifacts from your development server to a build, test, staging, or production server.
In addition to upgrading your build process, make sure that your team is following the Coding Best Practices for SharePoint Server 2007.
Upgrade Your Skills
SharePoint 2010 integrates many new technologies that you will want to start mastering today, if you haven’t already, including Silverlight and Language-Integrated Query (LINQ). Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform and cross-device browser plug-in that helps companies design, develop and deliver applications and experiences on the Web. A free download that installs in seconds, Silverlight enables a new class of rich, secure and scalable cross-platform experiences that will run equally on Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari on Windows, Mac and Linux.
SharePoint 2010 natively supports Silverlight development, including a client-side API for development and a Silverlight media web part that developers will want to leverage in their solutions. Learn more about Silverlight at the Microsoft site.
LINQ is a set of features in Visual Studio 2008 that extends powerful query capabilities to the language syntax of C# and Visual Basic. LINQ introduces standard, easily-learned patterns for querying and updating data, and the technology can be extended to support potentially any kind of data store. SharePoint 2010 includes LINQ to SharePoint, making querying of SharePoint data easier than ever before.
Kirk Allen Evans is an Architect Evangelist for Microsoft Corporation’s Communications Sector. He focuses on solutions based on SharePoint that apply to the top advertising agencies, broadcasters, hosters, and telecommunication service providers . Visit Kirk’s blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/kaevans.