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An introduction to SharePoint Apps in SharePoint 2013

A lot of new things are introduced with the SharePoint 2013 Preview, released by Microsoft just a few days ago. Many of these “things” are expected and seem as a natural continuation of existing functionality. SharePoint Apps feel a little different.  It’s completely new! Or is it?

Building extensions has always been a big part of SharePoint. Thankfully tools and API’s have evolved a lot, and some of my friends – who was always been .NET developer type of persons – have finally accepted and embraced SharePoint as a developer platform. And that is a big part of what SharePoint Apps is all about.

So what are SharePoint Apps? They are simply a new way of providing extensions for SharePoint. Since SharePoint – with SharePoint 2013 / Office 365 – span across on-premises and cloud, there is a need for a new model for extending SharePoint that will work in all of these. SharePoint Apps technology is designed to work either on you SharePoint infrastructure, in a private or public cloud or even in a “blended” scenario where databases and logic is conveniently provisioned with Microsoft (Azure).

Why Apps?

The “application” concept is nothing new – as you know – but it work very well in other places, and SharePoint has a huge but fragmented market for extensions of all sizes and shapes. SharePoint Apps will have an official “App Store” where people can find Apps and install them easily. Apps are not ideal for the deeply integrated type of solutions, but for the much larger number of lightweight extensions that seem to have a big end-user impact, SharePoint Apps are great.

So the big news for vendors of SharePoint extensions is that Microsoft will provide a new channel for them to present their solutions to a global audience. And for the SharePoint users – the solutions that are available will be much more visible and easier to purchase. Microsoft will not only let you download and install apps from the Store, but is also providing a purchasing platform, as we know it from other App Stores.

But the App Store concept is also available as an “internal service” allowing you to provide SharePoint Apps that are built only for your company to your users. This is really good stuff! Since the App Store concept is so easy for users to understand, the company app catalogue will help you not only to share apps that have already been developed, but also to maintain good control over what is made available.

How SharePoint Apps work

From a technical angle, you need to understand that a SharePoint App – in itself mostly consists of HTML and JavaScript. The SharePoint Client Side Object Model (CSOM) is central to SharePoint Apps. Using CSOM you can build some pretty cool applications with existing sites and services – let’s say a timesheet system or a helpdesk application. But if you need to add server-side code to your SharePoint App, you will have to go for either a hosted solution (you can host these on a dedicated server yourself or have it hosted with an ISV or hosting vendor) or use the “auto-hosted” solution, with Microsoft Azure database and services. These three options gives you good flexibility and seems like a great platform for ISV’s to start to provide more advanced SharePoint Apps – hosted at the vendor – and distributed using the SharePoint App Store.

This is Microsoft’s own drawing, that explains the three options for hosting SharePoint Apps. BTW – you can mix these in any way you like…

Naturally this architecture also fits very well with Microsoft Office 365. In fact – it is made very clear that this is what Microsoft wants you to do. Already now – only a few days after the lid was opened for SharePoint 2013 Preview, you can sign up for an Office 365 based developer environment for SharePoint Apps ( and on MSDN a set of introductory articles are posted.

So – what impact will SharePoint Apps have?

The coming months will show if Microsoft has gotten it right with the new SharePoint Apps and the way it combines different services and infrastructures to help create, sell, distribute and manage extensions for SharePoint. Without a doubt – SharePoint has the opportunity to take a huge leap ahead of other web platforms, if ISV’s will embrace the Microsoft Store and make it easier to find, buy and get the benefit from the thousands of excellent SharePoint add-ons available. If that will be the case, we will see a more unified add-on price level and customers will most probably be able to get much more for less.

SharePoint Apps is one of the most exciting new technologies in SharePoint from that perspective.

If you want to dive into the deep end and start to build you first SharePoint App, check out the SharePoint MSDN site at


Introducing SharePoint Server 2013: What is in the box?

Since February rumors have been a big part of the online discussion in the global SharePoint  community. Microsoft – quite early – released documentation for some of the API’s for the forthcoming version of SharePoint products and Technologies – at the time known as SharePoint 15.

Rumors are always fun, but not that useful. Even if some of the post out there have been pretty close to what now finally is revealed to be reality, Microsoft have been very successful in preventing too many details getting to the public, and through that preventing the type of damage this could do to their own business, and the business of system implementers.

A question that is interesting to ask, is why people are really that aggressive when it comes to pushing what is – in most cases –undocumented and speculative testimonies into the blogosphere.  Nobody – except maybe the smart norwegian Bjørn Furuknap (that story is covered in so many other places that I don’t need to do it again) is really making any money out of these speculations, and even so, we all attracted to all kind on news we can get. In many ways SharePoint 15 has been to the SharePoint community what like Justin Bieber is to my teenage daughters. They have a cardboard Justin in the room – so perhaps is should get one of those things – a cardboard Jeff Teeper – for the office?

Today is the day where we can finally validate all the rumors, so for most of us who are SP-addicts (there should be a cmdlet…) this is a special day. Either because you can now finally see what is inside the box and start thinking about how to persuade your boss to get this thing installed – or if you have been playing around with early bits – you can finally start to talk about it.

In February was in Redmond for a 5 day training on SharePoint 15. Since then me and a team of bright Scandinavian guys been working our way through 2 Beta versions and I am just as exited like everyone else to start to talk about this in our community. It’s been a trip with many up’s and downs – and my expectations for the Beta 2 release, is absolutely that a good part of the latter has been taken care of.

I am the architect in a global roll-out of SharePoint 2013, serving up to 30.000 users with brand new capabilities for knowledge sharing and search. This is a major project and we have a great team of professional that have been analyzing SharePoint 2013 and building a massive infrastructure (40+ servers in 7 farms planned at launch time) and some quite heavy customization of the new MySites and the brand new Community Sites – all stitched together by  a set of new social capabilities and a “real” Enterprise Search implementation, that is kicking…

Going into details here, would be far to much information for a single post, so I am not going to do that. But over the next few months, I am going to post more detailed articles of each of the areas in SharePoint 2013 where I have made some experiences and where Microsoft have made a progress that will make a difference. And I can tell you already now, that there are a lot of these areas.

Social in SharePoint Server 2013

The biggest game-changer is really the new social capabilities. SharePoint has been missing this but now it’s there. The Newsfeed/Activity feed of users makes the case for making MySite your new startpage, and the information you now get on a person – in MyProfile – is also now driven by the social network and activities that person is engaged in. With some easy tricks, you can have Newsfeed on every site, and these are automatically connected to your personal stream. And – of course you can tag topics with # and do “at mentions” of people with @ – all is neatly integrated with the managed metadata store that has also learned a few new tricks; metadata-based navigation, custom term properties etc.

User Profiles are still at the heart of Mysite, but a new Active Directory import mode, will make it easier for most companies to get their users in there.

Search is at the heart of everything…

Search is the next big area is Search; Fast Search is no longer a product of it’s own, but the enterprise functionality has been built into the SharePoint Server product, and most of the advanced search functionality has been made much more accessible through the SharePoint UI. Search is going to be driving much more content in the in SharePoint  2013, and Microsoft has built things like a search driven version of the popular “Content Query” webpart breaking down barriers of site collections and much more. There’s a lot of great stuff in that area and I think that Search will be right in the center of most great solutions that will be built on SharePoint 2013.

Brand new UX – and branding toolset

Finally branding has gotten a lift – bigger than you probably imagined. The ribbon is still there, but the rest of SharePoint is “not to be recognized”. The work that I have done on SharePoint 2012 so far, included a lot of of UX and we have had a string of meetings with Microsoft UX people that have told us about how Metro design principles and guidelines have been used to create a cleaner and more responsive user experience.

There are lots of other things that qualify as “big new areas” – the SharePoint AppStore; a possible game-changer for SharePoint add-on vendors, the new work management service application and naturally Office Web applications, which are not a part of SharePoint anymore, but a separate product.

Much more to come on these – I am looking forward to talk about these things with all of you. If you want to get fed my SharePoint 2013 stuff automatically – just sign-up for the newsletter. If you want to have a say in what gets done when – go to the poll.


What are the Top 3 topics you want to know about in SharePoint 2013?

What is your biggest interest in the brand new SharePoint Server 2013? Select your own Top 3 and see what other people think.

The Beta 2 release of Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Office  has just launched. If you are following this blog, chances are that you have already downloaded the software or that you are about to do it. In this little poll you can let the community know what the most exiting things – for you – is in the new SharePoint release. I will use this not only to see what you think sounds fun – but also to prioritize post over the coming weeks.

– Yes – I DID see the typo – but you are a smart guy, so you’ll get it 😉


Get the Customer Preview of Microsoft Office 2015 right here!

So it’s here: Next version of Office is ready for download in the Customer Preview version – what is really Beta 2 – and you can get it here:

Lot of good stuff in there and the Beta has really been cleaned up nicely.


“Up the ante” on SharePoint governance says Gartner

In a recently published survey by #IDM – an australian magazine for information management – where more than 150 enterprises have participated, it is confirmed that the biggest concern companies have with #SharePoint is #Governance. It a threat, says Gartner…

In most companies SharePoint already have a role where it is the storage for information that is critical for the business, and with more and more companies actually implementing the information management capabilities SharePoint provides, the requirements for information management in relation to SharePoint grows – fast…

Read the results here

The conclusions made in the survey are backed by #Gartner, who are going as far as saying, that they belive that CIO’s will loose their jobs if they dont succeed in implementing sound processes and systems for governance and #information management.

Below is a snippet from the article on IDM:

Governance threat
“Gartner predicts that By 2016, 20 per cent of CIOs in regulated industries will lose their jobs for failing to implement the discipline of information governance successfully.

“We’ve seen rapidly growing interest in information governance-related topics, and this trend shows no sign of abating,” said Debra Logan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Information governance is the only way to comply with regulations, both current and future, and responsibility for it lies with the CIO and the chief legal officer. When organisations suffer high-profile data losses, especially involving violations of the privacy of citizens or consumers, they suffer serious reputational damage and often incur fines or other sanctions. IT leaders will have to take at least part of the blame for these incidents.”

In 2012, Gartner recommends highly regulated businesses that do not already have information-archiving technology should invest in it in order to bring email and files under control. The governance-related technology of information archiving has reached early majority and is a key component of an evolving information governance technology strategy.

Through 2016, Gartner believes spending on governing information must increase to five times the current level to be successful.

So according to Gartner, we are facing a serious threat here. Often threats is a good reason to sitting down and actually finding the funds to do something – which is still a major issue for most companies when talking about governance. But when talking about SharePoint governance, the investments you need to make – even if up to 5 times bigger than what you do today, as Gartner point to – can easily be turned into an opportunity.

Read more on Gartner’s predictions on Information Management and governance here.

When implementing #SharePoint #Governance, it should be done in a way that not only manages risk and change management, but also cover processes for driving adoption (the second biggest challenge enterprises point out) and innovative solutions. This type of thing can be done using Service Catalogues as you might know them from #ITIL, and filling out your catalogue with a set of solutions and services that drive your company in the direction you want.

When we accept that the lack of governance in SharePoint has become a threat, we are implicitly in the reactive mode. And reactive business are not the most succesful ones. So mayby Gartner has a point. We need to “up the ante” on SharePoint governance to get in the position to “take the pot”.

What about SharePoint 15 and governance?

Someone will pop that question as soon as the information start to roll on the next SharePoint version –  SharePoint 2013 / SharePoint 15 – probably later this week. Well – even if Microsoft will probably claim to have built even more functionality into the platform that can be used for governance and information management, it’s naturally not a question of technology. So dont expect that a new version of SharePoint will make this even slightly easier. As a corporation, you need to build processes and policies that not only comply with internal requirements and external regulation, but also enables your company to drive a progressive and operational governance practise.

As SharePoint is SharePoint – it will provide you with a lot of lists and buttons that can be used in your governance practise. But working out how to run it, that’s where you have to sit down with a clean sheet of paper.