Microsoft will detail its planned SharePoint Server 2010 business collaboration platform for the enterprise and web, emphasizing Internet, developer, and video capabilities.
SharePoint 2010 is feature complete and will be offered in a beta release in November along with the Office 2010 applications suite. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will discuss the upcoming SharePoint release in a keynote presentation at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2009.
"It's the biggest release we have done to date," said Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for SharePoint at Microsoft.
Due to be generally available the first half of next year, the 2010 version of the platform will make it easier to run Internet sites. A lower priced version will be offered for small and medium sized businesses. Exact pricing of that version has not yet been revealed.
Microsoft also is extending its SharePoint Online hosting service. SharePoint Online has been focused on internally facing collaboration within a single enterprise. "Now, you can expose [a business] on the Internet," Teper said. The external facing sites can be used for capabilities such as e-commerce, marketing or communications about government services.
Users can run the SharePoint Server 2010 server themselves, or Microsoft can host it on SharePoint Online. "You choose server or service. You run it or we run it," said Teper.
SharePoint Server 2010 is going into beta alongside Office 2010 to enable easier collaboration using the two products. "You have Office on the desktop and SharePoint on the server," Teper said. "We've designed as a family to work together."
Featured in SharePoint Server 2010 is the ability to save videos onto SharePoint. While it will be simpler to deploy videos through Microsoft's Silverlight browser plugin technology, users also can run them in the rival Adobe Flash format.
Editing of web pages will be enhanced through use of the Microsoft Office ribbon, supporting capabilities such as dragging and dropping of video. Users also can design workflows that include approval processes, such as having a press release approved by marketing before it goes to an Internet site.
Analysts were impressed with social capabilities for SharePoint Server 2010.
"Folks [have been] hesitant to deploy SharePoint as the Facebook for the enterprise, but I think there's going to be a lot of organisations that will seriously consider that," with the 2010 release offering capabilities such as communities and better support for blogs and wikis, said analyst Rob Koplowitz, of Forrester. Integration between Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 is what boosts social computing in the release, Microsoft said.
The release also will "have much better application tools and lifecycle management," said analyst John Rymer, also of Forrester. It also features improved operational management features and a better integration framework than the predecessor Microsoft Office SharePoint Server release.
"Fourth, Microsoft is finally providing offline support," said Rymer, referring to the SharePoint Workspace 2010 part of the product. SharePoint Workspace "allows people to take SharePoint lists and forms offline, work on them, and re-sync the revised data with the server," Rymer said.
SharePoint Server 2010 will boost developer capabilities for building and extending customised SharePoint websites, via tools, APIs and runtimes, with the planned Visual Studio 2010 development platform playing a critical role.
"Visual Studio will make it much easier to build sophisticated SharePoint applications," such as a customer tracking site or a human resources or employee services application, Teper said. Visual Studio 2010 will make it easier to debug and deploy applications on SharePoint. It also will feature wizards to generate SharePoint application components.
"Rather than writing 100 lines of code to generate a part on a page in SharePoint, you'd like to tell Visual Studio to just generate that code for you," Teper said.
An advanced application packaging model in SharePoint Server 2010 is supported in Visual Studio 2010, Teper said. Applications can be deployed as a group and changed independently. While Visual Studio 2010 is not required for building SharePoint applications, it will make it much easier to do so, Teper explained.
Microsoft's reliance on Visual Studio is a change of direction for SharePoint, according to Koplowitz.
"The development environment, which has been really a SharePoint environment, although it's a powerful development environment, it was out of step with the standard Microsoft development tools," Koplowitz said. "Now, it becomes more native .Net [for] programmers and aligned Visual Studio. I think there will be a lot more custom development on the platform."
Also featured in SharePoint and accessible via Visual Studio are APIs for REST and Atom. These APIS enable easier integration with data such as weather data on the Internet. Users also can use REST and Atom to build application mashups. SOAP already has been supported in SharePoint.
APIs also are featured for Silverlight and Microsoft LINQ (Language Integrated Query).
Another feature in SharePoint Server 2010 is a "solution sandbox" for securing code similar to the sandbox concept in Java. "It's a way for people to run their custom code on SharePoint and protect it from other things and vice versa," said Teper.
"Everybody will live in their own sandbox," he said. Previously, developers needed an administrator's assistance to isolate code in SharePoint.
SharePoint Server 2010 also will feature a new release of SharePoint Designer, enabling non-developers to build simple SharePoint applications without writing code.