SharePoint Framework (#SPFx) Hits Generally Available (GA)

Since May 4th, 2016, we have been awaiting the official launch of the general availability of the SharePoint Framework (SPFx). With one release, after another, I knew we were getting closer and closer to the end, or rather the beginning, the beginning of a new adventure with SharePoint. And now our journey has officially started. On February 23rd, Microsoft announced the release of SPFx to general availability.

The Future of SharePoint Event: When It All Started

On May 4th, 2016 at the Future of SharePoint Event in San Francisco, Microsoft first introduced the development of SPFx to the public. After the keynote by Satya Nadella, I knew Microsoft’s innovations, especially SPFx, would offer endless possibilities for the PixelMill team and our clients. In fact, I may be so bold as to say, while SharePoint has experienced great changes over the last couple years, none have brought this level of opportunity.

Over this last year, I have written several articles detailing the nuts and bolts that make up the framework. There is quite a bit to absoburb, but I want to call out two primary aspects of the SPFx puzzle, Client Side Rendering (CSR) and the utilization of TypeScript as the base development language.

New Opportunities with the Client Side Rendering (CSR) Model

We have been using Client Side Rendering (CSR) with SharePoint for quite some time, but we always had to shim our webparts and components to work with SharePoint. The introduction of CSR as the native model for the user interface is a total game-changer. This model will allow developers to insert solutions right into SharePoint without touching the back-end. CSR is also the future to those who customize the SharePoint UI. But why? Not only does the CSR model give SharePoint developers a chance to insert their CSR solutions directly into SharePoint, but it also allows them endless possibilities to create the custom user interfaces they have been dreaming of for years.

Don’t Be Afraid of TypeScript, Embrace It

When TypeScript popped up into my coding vocabulary, I must admit I was a little concerned. But now, by familiarizing myself with it over the last year, I can say I am much more willing to encourage TypeScript’s adoption. When I attended the Dev Kitchen (DevKit3) during July of last year, it became more apparent that I NEEDED to learn TypeScript to be able to embrace SPFx.

But what exactly is TypeScript? Many are asking why we can’t just use raw JavaScript for SPFx development? Here’s my answer, JavaScript is great, but TypeScript is better as it provides structure to our JavaScript. TypeScript contains many of the features coming in ECMAScript 2015, yet also provides a strongly typed language that transpiles to JavaScript. I do freely admit the TypeScript is best for larger web based projects, it is not a go to tool when 20-40 lines of JavaScript will do the same thing. For the Framework, TypeScript makes sense.

Conclusion

I could not be more thrilled to encourage my fellow SharePoint developers to get started with the new SPFx. I know it can be scary, but change is good and don’t worry I am here to help. Below I have listed a number of blog articles I have written since the first mention of the framework in May. Also, feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

July 2016

The New SharePoint Framework: A New Perspective from DevKit3

August 2016

The wait is over: The SharePoint Framework (#SPFx) Now Available

September 2016

The SharePoint Framework: The Potential to Replace the SharePoint UI Unchanged Since 2007

October 2016

Asynchronous Dynamic Properties in SharePoint Framework Webpart Property Panes

November 2016

SPFx Officially Available to First Release Tenants

January 2017

Update SharePoint Framework Yeoman Generator

The New Wave of SharePoint: #SPFx Release Candidate 0 #RC0 Available

SPFx 101: Include an Additional Typings Definition in your SPFx Prject using @types

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