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SharePoint Framework (SPFx)

Understanding SharePoint Framework (SPFx) – Developers’ Perspective

Our recent webinar on ‘Introduction to SharePoint Framework’ (SPFx) attracted very active participation from a large number of developers.

This blog gives a brief overview of SharePoint Framework followed by answers to questions from the participants of that webinar.

Understanding SharePoint Framework:

As Microsoft says, “The SharePoint Framework is a Page and Part model that enables client-side development for building SharePoint experiences. It facilitates easy integration with the SharePoint data, and provides support for open source tooling of development.”

SPFx offers excellent opportunities for new interactions and user experiences. It is a mobile-first and cloud-first Microsoft initiative with an open and connected platform and client-side development model. SPFx’s light-weight components and responsive design support dynamic user experiences for desktop and mobile device browsers.

Given below are the answers from our presenters, Guruswamy Jetti and Abishek Bhat to questions from the participants:

What technologies should I learn to work on SharePoint Framework?

While at this point in time, the SharePoint Framework Client-Side Web Parts uses TypeScript, React or Knockout.  However, you can use any JavaScript framework. There is no particular recommendation with regard to which framework you should use. Different frameworks excel in different scenarios and you are free to choose one that meets your needs.

Are there any limitations of SharePoint framework? Can you customize all aspects of SharePoint framework, i.e. event receiver, time job, workflow, etc.?

Based on our experience in customizing SharePoint frameworks, we can say that:

  1. Single column layout in the new Page Model is not suitable for all scenarios.
  2. Elevation of privileges
  3. Master Page and Page layout customizations

As of now, for event receivers, web hooks can be used.  For the others, we don’t have any information or documentation.

Should developers learn Yeoman, Gulp and Typescript?

SharePoint Framework uses open-source toolchains that work seamlessly across different operating systems. While it’s not necessary for you to have extensive knowledge of the tools used by SharePoint Framework, having a basic understanding will help you be more productive when building solutions on the SharePoint Framework.

Is it necessary to use Azure storage account for CDN? Can’t we upload files and web parts on SharePoint site?

No. Artifacts may be deployed to a CDN, SharePoint list, or Azure web site.

How are Business Objects and Tableau different from Trello and SharePoint?

The two products mentioned are mainly used for Business Intelligence. SharePoint Framework, however, is a toolchain and is used to develop client-side web parts.

Will the way we currently work with apps continue to be supported, along with a SharePoint framework? What does the roadmap look like?

SharePoint Framework doesn’t deprecate or replace any of the existing models. On the contrary, it complements them and we are confident that the most powerful SharePoint customizations will be possible by combining different models and making them work together.

Do we need to wait for the general availability of SharePoint framework?

As of now, SharePoint Framework is available in preview so we cannot use it for production due to possible breakages. Please go through the roadmap provided by Microsoft.

Can we connect to external data resources from SharePoint using SPFx?

The SharePoint Framework will be used for client-side web parts development.  Working with specific data sources may need different nuances.

In terms of security which one is better:   SPFx or app model?

Add-in/app-part model, as SPFx still has to be available for general usage and this will be executed in the current page context.

Do we have branding options in modern sites like we have in classic SharePoint using page layouts and master page?

We hope Microsoft hasn’t mentioned any changes related to branding. Pages and team sites are updated and as far as we know, we will have options. It is too early to comment on the same.

Does the editor which you demonstrated, have the folder structure as created by Yeoman generator?

Yes, it’s using Visual Studio Code which was developed by Microsoft and open source code editor. We can use other open source tools like ATOM, Sublime and others.

Can it replace the way it farms solution capabilities when it comes to on-premise like CSOM has?

SharePoint Framework doesn’t deprecate or replace any of the existing models. SharePoint Framework can be used for client side customizations if it suits your requirements.

Can the coding model be SSOM/CSOM/JSOM/REST APIs?

For SharePoint framework, we need to use JavaScript framework and REST API for dealing with lists etc.

Which is the recommended framework between React / Angular JS?

You may use any JavaScript framework,  and there is no particular recommendation on the JavaScript framework. Different frameworks excel in different scenarios and you are free to choose one that suit needs the best.

Is this in Visual Studio or any other software?

Yes, we are using Visual Studio Code which was developed by Microsoft and is an open source code editor. We can use other open source tools like ATOM, Sublime, and others.

Can SharePoint framework use Microsoft Flow, Delve etc. capabilities?

Modern team site pages are fast, easy to author and support rich multimedia content. And pages look great on any device, in a browser or from within the SharePoint app. These modern pages are similar to Delve pages so they can be easily integrated with Delve, Microsoft Flow and Microsoft Graph.

View the webinar: https://youtu.be/0LAjvvdxQ4c

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