MVPBy Ben Robb.

Often, developers new to SharePoint can get lost in the new world they encounter – with strange, obscure acronyms and terminology. There is a steep learning curve for developers and team leads starting their first development project in SharePoint.

At the International SharePoint Conference in London at the end of last month, the developers track did something different. We broke away from the traditional session based approach to concentrate creating a single solution on the SharePoint platform. We took input from the IT Pro and Business tracks and worked to explore challenges to building projects in SharePoint from the ground up. Concentrating on helping attendees with the choices that they will have to make when designing and building a solution, the conference aimed to give developers clear guidance on the important processes and decisions that make the difference between success and failure on SharePoint projects. We started with nothing but a list of requirements – to build a Knowledge Base solution - and ended the 3 days by publishing the solution on a live instance of Office 365.

Taking us out of the traditional 60 -75 minute time slot had its fair share of challenges. Would the attendees want to sit through 3 whole days on the same scenario? What would happen if the servers broke half way through the conference? How do you get a diverse group of MCAs, MCMs and MVPs to agree on anything? Looking at the reactions on Twitter and verbally at the conference, the new approach worked very well.

The 16 sessions covered topics such as customizing Visual Studio, the building blocks of the solution (web parts, branding, content types etc.), packaging and deployment, advanced features (Managed Metadata, Business Connectivity Services, Search, Word Automation) and integration with cloud services (SQL Azure, Azure worker roles and Office 365).

The nine speakers (Andrew Connell, Ben Robb, Eric Shupps, Matthew McDermott, Mirjam van Olst, Todd Carter, Paul Schaeflein, Waldek Mastykarz and Wictor Wilén), together with support from the ITPro track (especially Steve Smith and Spence Harbar) worked hard for nearly 6 months to bring this project to fruition, and announced the publication of the code base onto Codeplex at the conference. You can download the various projects which make up the solution here: http://spkbase.codeplex.com

SONY DSCBen Robb
SharePoint MVP

Ben Robb has been a SharePoint MVP for the past 5 years, and currently works in a large professional services company rolling out SharePoint around their global organization. A frequent public speaker, he also co-hosts the London SharePoint User Group.