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

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Since the May 4th announcement on Future of SharePoint I have been long awaiting the SharePoint Framework (#SPFx) Public Developer Preview. My excitement escalated about three weeks ago when I had the privilege of attending the third Developer Kitchen (DevKit3). Finally, today is the day; the SharePoint Framework is finally available for Public Developer Preview to Office 365 tenants. The rollout may take some time, but you should see it happen pretty soon. Jeff Teper made the announcement just minutes ago at SharePoint Fest Seattle and at the moment it appears as though https://github.com/SharePoint is not yet available, but let’s assume it will be in minutes.

(Update: 1PM PST 8/17/16 – it does appear as though the GitHub project is slowing coming online. There is a very good walk-through and getting started, and you will need a development tenant on Office 365, but there is documentation on setting this up as well.)

The New SharePoint Development Model

As more SharePoint Developers get their hands on the new SharePoint Framework, the opportunities for new interactions and user experiences will become endless. If you haven’t had a chance to read my DevKit3 Recap, let me give you a quick review on the bits and pieces of the new SharePoint Framework.

Utilizing a Client Side Rendering (CSR) model, the SharePoint Framework is a big step in modern Web Development for SharePoint. CSR allows SharePoint Developers to insert solutions directly into SharePoint without resorting to server-side integration methods. A CSR model allows us to decouple the back-end of SharePoint from the front-end presentation of information to the client (browser). With new possibilities for customizing the front-end interface of SharePoint, I assume that we will start to see incredibly innovative branding and other front-end solutions for SharePoint.

With Change Comes Progress and New Challenges

There are a few challenges that I expect many existing SharePoint Developers will face with the new Framework. The first being a completely new development toolset based around NodeJS, Yeoman, and Gulp. This has been discussed at length by many other developers; my suggestion is to watch a few Web Casts led by Microsoft’s Vera Juvonen including, “Office Dev PnP Web Cast – Getting Started with Web Stack in SharePoint Development” and “PnP Web Cast – Getting Started with SharePoint Framework.

Second, the new SharePoint Framework is built using TypeScript, a JavaScript-like language that adds static typing and object-orientated programming. Although TypeScript will provide the potential for larger projects, it will still be a big adjustment for many people. However, eventually, for customization purposes, those planning to develop modern SharePoint will have to learn it. Even though you might be hesitant (like the rest of us, myself included), there are many benefits to learning TypeScript.

Closing Thoughts

For all of you SharePoint Developers, start to familiarize yourself with the new SharePoint Framework. There will likely be a few twists and turns as the model matures, but definitely, pay attention and get up to speed if you can. As stated by Satya Nadella at the beginning of Build 2016, I encourage you to “imagine what’s possible.”

As with any new platform, we are bound to hit many roadblocks, so as these arise, speak up. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – remember to share your suggestions at User Voice.

Learn more and get started now.

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