SharePoint Q&A: Microsoft's Arpan Shah

We speak with Microsoft's Director of SharePoint Tools and Technologies about SharePoint 2010 and its impact on .NET developers.

Microsoft on May 12 released Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010. You can read the Visual Studio Magazine cover feature here. While the Office launch is certainly notable, the impact of SharePoint 2010 on .NET developers is potentially huge. The combination of Visual Studio 2010 (launched in April) and SharePoint 2010 has transformed SharePoint application development from an often-frustrating challenge into a first-class development experience.

Arpan Shah, director of SharePoint Tools and Technologies at Microsoft, talked with us about the new version and its impact on developers. You can find useful information about SharePoint 2010 training and resources in this blog entry by Arpan Shah. For a bit more on the Office side of the launch, check out this blog entry from Microsoft Senior Product Manager John R. Durant.

Michael Desmond: Microsoft has admitted that it had work to do to get SharePoint-based development up to grade with other platforms. What in your mind were the most critical areas that needed to be addressed to make SharePoint developers first-class citizens in the .NET development space?
Arpan Shah: We’ve made a number of investments for SharePoint developers across the board. One I would call out is our SharePoint developer tools in Visual Studio 2010 that make it very easy for developers to code and debug SharePoint solutions quickly. In addition, we also support Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7 as SharePoint development environments. These two investment areas plus many more really bring SharePoint development in line with the other types of .NET development, which is great for developers.

MD: I've heard lots of devs rave about two things that got fixed with Visual Studio 2010 and SharePoint 2010: The ability to develop on a Visual Studio workstation, and the addition of F5 build/debug/deploy. How difficult was it to enable these important capabilities with SharePoint 2010?
AS: We listened to our developer community and prioritized our engineering efforts to enable these key developer scenarios. Support for the Windows client as a developer environment was possible because of the similarity of the IIS codebase in Windows Vista SP2/Windows 7 and Windows Server. It’s important to point out that there are limitations when developing on the Windows Client, so we recommend that developers use Windows Server for a full developer experience across all the SharePoint Server 2010 features. Support for Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Developer Tools was possible because of the partnership with and hard work by the Visual Studio team.

MD: Business Connectivity Services are getting a lot of attention as a key ingredient in the SharePoint (and Office) update. Can you explain why SharePoint oriented developers might want to explore BCS more closely?
AS: Business Connectivity Services (BCS) really takes away the need to do a lot of the plumbing and heavy lifting a developer typically needs to do in order to integrate with another backend system. Developers can use BCS to connect SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 to databases and/or other line of business (LOB) systems such as Microsoft CRM and SAP to surface data to end users. End users can read, edit and take the data offline. BCS connections can be set up declaratively through SharePoint Designer 2010 as well as developed in Visual Studio 2010.

MD: What are you hearing from .NET developers since SharePoint 2010 launched? Are you seeing SharePoint development shops moving immediately to Visual Studio 2010 and SharePoint 2010 in lockstep?
AS: We are receiving great feedback from the developer community. Visual Studio 2010 and SharePoint 2010 are helping SharePoint developers rapidly develop & debug SharePoint projects reducing overall time-to-market for their SharePoint solutions. With good developer training available, we’re seeing SharePoint developers upgrade their SharePoint 2007 skills to SharePoint 2010. Many development shops are starting new projects with Visual Studio 2010 and SharePoint 2010 as well as working with their existing customers to upgrade them to SharePoint 2010 to take advantage of all the investments made.

MD: If you could do the whole SharePoint 2010 cycle over again, what one thing might you change and how?
AS: We have a really great tools story with Visual Studio 2010 and SharePoint 2010, and we know there is more we can do to build on that great experience. Looking back, I think we got the priorities right on what to do first, but it’s hard not to look at the additional things we would like to have done and wonder what if. It just gives us more excitement about what will come next!

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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