Microsoft Gives SharePoint Extensibility a Shot in the Arm

The SharePoint Framework is now generally available, allowing developers to better tailor the SharePoint Online experience to their organization's and users' needs.


SharePoint Framework, Microsoft's web-developer-friendly technology for customizing user interfaces on SharePoint Online, is now generally available.

With SharePoint Framework, organizations can customize the document management and team collaboration platform using modern web development techniques. "The SharePoint Framework (SPFx) is a page and web part model that provides full support for client-side SharePoint development, easy integration with SharePoint data and support for open source tooling," explained the Microsoft SharePoint team in a Feb. 23 blog post.

"With the SharePoint Framework, you can use modern web technologies and tools in your preferred development environment to build productive experiences and apps on SharePoint that are responsive and mobile-ready from day one," continued the software giant's staffers.

Mirroring the broader cloud and web application ecosystem, the SharePoint Framework is intended to promote choice. It enables developers to use the technologies and coding tools beyond .NET, including popular JavaScript frameworks like Angular and React, the company asserted. This also enables an organization's developers to incorporate their existing and familiar tools, including the Gulp task automation build system and Yeoman web application scaffolding toolkit, into their SharePoint extensibility projects.

In enterprise environments, the technology offers coders "everything from the development framework, build pipeline, to the actual deployment and allows the developers in a short time to reach out to all Site Collections with new solutions and features, all controlled by the App Catalog," according to a related Office Dev Center support document. It also enables full control of content delivery network (CDN) locations and allows organizations to push fixes and updates with relative ease.

Since the release of its preview last August, Microsoft has collected more than 30 code samples in the company's GitHub repository, a number of which were contributed by third-party developers. Also available are sample SharePoint web parts from partners, including Document Dashboard from Content and Code, a Panda Poll survey generator from Bamboo Solutions and Excel Workbook from Puzzlepart.

SharePoint Framework is currently being distributed to Office 365 customers. Going forward, Microsoft is focusing on ensuring compatibility across all versions of the product. The roadmap also includes enabling "new development scenarios" and extending support to on-premises SharePoint deployments.

Steadily, Microsoft is pushing SharePoint well beyond its enterprise document management roots and turning the platform into a hub of sorts for workplace collaboration.

Last month, the company gave SharePoint Online team sites new mobile file-syncing capabilities courtesy of a OneDrive for Business integration. Users can now carry files stored on their team sites on their devices, allowing them to access critical information even if they stray beyond the reach of a WiFi or cellular signal.

"Making sure you have the information that is critical to you on every device no matter where you are is key to our customers. The ability to sync SharePoint Online team sites directly to OneDrive makes doing this easier and simpler for users," stated Stephen L. Rose, product manager at Microsoft OneDrive, in a Jan. 24 announcement.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...