In the last week or two in SharePoint land there were some interesting announcements and changes. The first on my list is the availability of Office Designer for free. While this product is not a spoon for everybody's mouth, it certainly makes it easier for a wider developer community to try out and use it and most importantly you can be productive in short time. This is great for many who are interested to create SharePoint applications, but it could be less fun for many administrators, since the lifecycle management of web applications with this version of the tool could be tricky. So watch out when you modify live sites. You can download Office Designer here.
Another good news is the simplification of the SharePoint server name for the next version of the product. We shall no longer have to use the long Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, but just SharePoint Server 2010. The “Office” falls out of the name and becomes distinctive for the desktop product line, while the enterprise server product becomes just SharePoint Server or simply SharePoint. Not a big change for many, who already were using this convention. Some mild implication from this change result in losing the somewhat beloved MOSS acronym, which was mixed in all kind of geeky combinations, such as mosslover, mossmozis, mossgonewild etc. read more about this name change and other announcements on the Office product front here: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/Apr09/04-15Office2010.mspx
Last but not least I would like to mention some announcements about Visual Studio 2010. There are tons of new features that will continue to define this development environment as the best in the industry, but my favorite addition is the integrated support for SharePoint development. No more extensions that do the work half way. SharePoint developers become first class citizens with full support in Visual Studio. The fact that we can import WSP projects into Visual Studio makes me feel great. This means that we can finally take any project, even those developed using SharePoint UI or Office Designer, import them in Visual Studio and do things that developers do… put the files in source control system, make modifications and redeploy, rearrange features etc. Talking about features the new feature manager looks really promising, no need for directly manipulating XML files anymore. Other functionality currently available as community tool(http://www.codeplex.com/spm) is the integrated server browser . Many other server products had one (i.e. SQL Server), so why not SharePoint? To read more about what’s coming in Visual Studio 2010, have a look at the following announcements.
Even though these changes came a little late for many, after all the voice of the SharePoint developer community has been heard. The platform will continue to grow and gain market share, but in addition to that this will continue the trend of replacing traditional ASP.NET/IIS development with SharePoint applications in many business scenarios.