SharePoint Framework Extensions Milestone – Release Candidate 0 Available

We are one step closer to the highly anticipated release of SharePoint Framework Extensions. Microsoft announced yesterday the release of SharePoint Framework Extensions RC0. My obvious questions are, what does this mean, what is different, how do I get the latest bits, and finally when will this go GA so I can use this for production projects?

What does this mean

Back in June 2017, only a few months ago, which shows the rapid pace of releases, Microsoft released the SPFx Extension Preview. Extensions are, well, an extension of the SharePoint Framework, that currently are to provide us the ability to insert our own custom JavaScript within targeted aspects of the general SharePoint interface. This includes insertion points within the general interface such as a header and footer, as well as manipulation of list interfaces though toolbar and menu customization, as well as list data presentation modifications. Think JSLink.

This latest release is the next step to the full GA release, that being extensions being available for production projects. I will readily admit though that this release is more important for us early adopters that want to dig in and see what the SharePoint product group is up to and where they are going. That being said, I would recommend that everyone update to the SPFx version 1.2 generator as there are new enhancements to SPFx webparts as well included in this release.

What has changed with this release

This release candidate is included in the updated public release of the SharePoint Framework, in particular, the Yeoman template used for production ready webparts. This extension update is itself encapsulated in the @microsoft/sharepoint-generator npm package, version 1.2.

To get the full details on exactly what changed, check out the full release notes provided with drop 1.2: https://github.com/SharePoint/sp-dev-docs/wiki/Release-Notes—Extensions-RC-Drop-1.2. In particular the following changes were made.

  • Performance enhancements
  • Extension Placeholder clarification – more improvements still planned
  • Eventing – system level events may be registered for custom handlers
  • Migration to TypeScript 2.4 and React 15 typings
  • Multi-component bundling
  • Webpart configuration pane enhancements
  • General bug fixes

If you were already working with the SPFx extension preview, check out what changed between Preview and RC0.

Get the latest bits

This is the easy step, we can follow the same steps as we normally run through to update our SPFx Yeoman Generator.

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npm update -g @microsoft/generator-sharepoint

You can also check what SPFx yeoman generator package version you have installed.

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npm list -g @microsoft/generator-sharepoint

You know you have the latest version if the following is returned:

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-- @microsoft/generator-sharepoint@1.2.0

SPFx-ext-rc0-install

That’s it. At this point when you run “yo @microsoft/sharepoint”, the project you create will include the latest SPFx packages necessary to utilize the latest code.

SPFx-ext-rc0-utilization

When will SPFx Extensions go GA?

Even if I knew, I couldn’t say, but I can tell you I have no idea. The extension preview was released in early June and it is now about two and a half months later. Yet Ignite 2017 is about four weeks away. As much as I would really like to see a GA announcement at Ignite, I just don’t think that is going to happen. My best guess is October or November of this year, but I am normally wrong on reading the Microsoft tea-leaves. I believe it is safe to say that we will be working with production SPFx extensions by the holidays.

Other thoughts and observations

There is still no workbench experience for SPFx extensions, so we will have to develop and debug off a live SharePoint Online development site. Not ideal, but still worked. We will have to use the ?loadSPFX=true… querystring technique as before from your dev site list while also having spun up your local dev experience using gulp serve –nobrowser.

Also, there are quite a few extension examples already making their way into the wild. The SharePoint community continues to rock. My suggested resource still remains at: https://github.com/SharePoint/sp-dev-fx-extensions/tree/master/samples.

If you are looking to get started with SPFx Extensions, visit the official documentation: https://dev.office.com/sharepoint/docs/spfx/extensions/overview-extensions.

And you on-prem users, SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 2 should contain SPFx. I would be disappointed with FP2 if it did not also contain extensions, but no official word as of yet.

Are you working on any SPFx extensions you are share? Let me know your experiences.

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