Microsoft moved the cheeseIn case you didn’t notice, Microsoft seriously moved the cheese for SharePoint developers in SharePoint 2013 with its new “App” model. Since the beginnings of SharePoint, developers have deployed code that runs on the SharePoint servers themselves, yet with this new model, code runs in the browser, on an external server, or in Windows Azure – pretty much anywhere except in SharePoint itself!

While the old ways still work, and remain necessary for some tasks, developers are encouraged to rethink the way they develop for SharePoint. As explained in this article, there are a number of advantages to the new model. It’s a lot like moving from MS-DOS development, where code could do anything (including destroying the server!), to a new phone app, where code runs in an isolated, tightly controlled environment. Developers may grumble, but it’s the right thing to do.

At BlueMetal, many of our clients are interested in this new way of programming but still aren’t ready to start using SharePoint 2013 Apps. The good news is that it’s possible to make most of the change by simply changing the approach to development, even in SharePoint 2010. If and when a client is ready to move to SharePoint 2013 Apps, the code comes across almost completely, and only the packaging needs to change.

Dashboard runs in a content editor web part

Dashboard runs in a Content Editor Web Part

BlueMetal has already begun using these techniques. For example, my colleague Julie Turner recently wrote an elaborate dashboard that runs completely in the web browser and is packaged in only a “content editor web part”. This works in SharePoint 2010 and as a SharePoint 2013 App! Not only does this work for her client (who couldn’t use a “farm” or “sandboxed” solution), but it was easily ported to the new App model as well.

I just published two samples which illustrate these new techniques, along with detailed instructions.

Future Proof Solutions Part 1  is a site creation solution that lists and creates new SharePoint sites. Using this web part allows end users to find and create sites in a consistent and simple manner. Two versions of the code are available: one is packaged as a SharePoint 2010 content editor web part, and the other as a SharePoint Hosted App for SharePoint 2013.

Future Proof Solutions Part 2 is a location mapping solution that geocodes and maps contacts and shows them in a web part. It also shows how to use the new Geolocation field and Map View in SharePoint 2013. Again, two versions are available:  one is a SharePoint 2010 Visual Web Part and event receiver, and the other is a SharePoint 2013 Provider Hosted App with a remote event receiver. Nearly all the code is common, even though the packaging is very different.

Please check them out, or send your developers to learn how to build SharePoint solutions that will work today and tomorrow, on premises or in the cloud. Or give us a call if you’d like us to help build a future-proof solution for your business!