Microsoft Releases .NET Core for Windows, OSX and Linux

For the first time, Microsoft has released its .NET framework as open source with support for Windows, OS X and Linux.  Microsoft first released a preview version of this version of the framework in 2014 – today is the first official release.

Microsoft has also released SQL Server 2016 for Linux and is now claiming that 30% of the servers running in Microsoft Azure are Linux as well.

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New Microsoft Integration Stencils Pack for Visio Available for Download

Microsoft has released a new set of Visio Stencils for creating diagrams in Visio 2013/2016.  The symbols include services such as:

  • BizTalk
  • Azure App Service
  • Flow
  • Azure
  • Infrastructure
  • Power BI
  • Power Shell
  • Service Fabric
  • IOT

To install, just download the file and go to your My Documents –> My Shapes folder and extract the shape files.

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Azure Search Introduces New Service Tiers

Microsoft has just announced a series of new service tiers for Azure Search.  The previously announced Basic tier has gone from preview to generally available.  Azure Search Basic pricing has been increased from the preview price of US$38 per month to $75 / month.    Basic supports up to 1 million documents per partition and 5 indexes per service, which is a good option for many small to medium sized web sites.

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The new S3 tier is available in preview.  It supports storage of up to 2.4 TB of documents, 1.4 billion documents served across 36 scale out units.  It is targeted to customers with massive search needs.

Microsoft has also created a tier called S3 HD which is targeted at ISVs and SAAS vendors with lots of customers who have small indexes (e.g. less than 1 million documents).  S3 HD allows you to pack in up to 1000 indexes per search service, making it ideal for vendors who need to spin up search instances for many customers.

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Microsoft buys LinkedIn for $26 Billion

Microsoft has just announced that they are buying LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion.  Jeff Weiner will remain as CEO, reporting to Satya Nadella.

Why is LinkedIn attractive to Microsoft – it has 400+ million professionals as members worldwide, the perfect audience for marketing Office 365, Dynamics, and Azure.

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”

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For SharePoint Development, the Future (and Present) is Clearly JavaScript

We have been working on a custom branded SharePoint intranet and interviewing SharePoint developers as we expand our team.  The historical SharePoint developer who has been working with C#, ASP.NET, farm based solutions, etc. is being clearly replaced by developers who see SharePoint and Office 365 as just another web based JavaScript platform.  When we interview SharePoint developers, we’re asking them about their experience with JavaScript frameworks, CSS styling, MVVM modular design and working with JSOM, REST, etc.  Right now, we’re hiring folks who have experience with CSS, HTML and JavaScript frameworks such as Knockout JS, Angular, React, etc. because this is the type of customizations we are developing.  We haven’t done a lot of C# development lately, except for clients who are still running older versions of SharePoint and want to migrate to SharePoint 2016 but keep their existing farm based solutions, custom workflows, InfoPath forms, etc.

Microsoft has been encouraging this shift from server side to client side development for several years, starting with SharePoint 2010 and dramatically accelerated with Office 365.  When Office 365 banned farm based solutions and server based code, the community shifted to 100% client side development using JavaScript, HTML, CSS, etc.

In SharePoint 2016, you can still use C# or ASP.NET to create farm based solutions but this is primarily for backwards compatibility.  In order to support both Office 365 and SharePoint 2016, it is recommended to use client side based customizations only.

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In the upcoming SharePoint Framework, Microsoft is pushing even further into the JavaScript world.  Gone are web parts / app parts / add-ins as IFrame component containers, replaced by inline JavaScript extensions that are dynamically included in the page.  These JavaScript extensions can be deployed either to Office 365 or loaded from an external CDN.  The SharePoint Framework leverages 100% JavaScript code and tools such as TypeScript, Node.JS, React, JSON, and Gulp for building customizations.  Unlike the current Add-in model, the code is included directly into a page with none of the older IFrame based container frameworks that older versions of SharePoint used. 

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If you are one of these SharePoint/C# developers who still thinks JavaScript is an after-thought language, think again – it should now be considered a first class language.  Microsoft is pushing it hard and SharePoint development is already primarily client side development and will continue to be in the future. 

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Microsoft Releases new SharePoint Client Side Library to Simplify API Use

The Patterns and Practices team at Microsoft has been working for several years on publishing guidance on how to use JavaScript to interact with SharePoint and Office 365.  They have come out with recommendations for replacing old server side farm solutions with pure JavaScript solutions as required as developers transition to Office 365.

The team has just released a new client side library that wraps the SharePoint REST API with a modern JavaScript API layer using TypeScript.  The goal of the library is simplify common developer scenarios and support typical JavaScript constructs such as promises, functions, etc.

Compared to using the raw REST layer and parsing through the complex JSON structures provided by Office 365, this should help simplify the development interaction with the underlying API.

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Advanced Security Management Comes to Office 365

Microsoft has a new azure service for managing and detecting security anomalies such as users signing in from odd locations, sign-in failures, etc.  Microsoft has now announced that they are bringing this service to Office 365.   For US $3 a month per user (unless you have the E5 plan), your end users can be monitored and managed by this new service.

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One of the Key New Features in Office 365: Improved Metadata Editing

Metadata is a key aspect to mature document management, yet the user experience in SharePoint has a lot to be desired and hasn’t really changed since SharePoint 2013.

In SharePoint 2013, 2016 and SharePoint Online, it takes several clicks to edit the properties of the document:

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As part of the new “modern” document library UI in Office 365, the document information panel now provides a complete history of the document and inline property editing, instead of requiring so many clicks.

Document metadata now available inline—You can now edit metadata directly from the main view in the information panel. No more clicking into multiple screens to apply an update! If you’re in a view that groups files by metadata, you can drag and drop files between groups to update the metadata. And if you miss something required, the document is no longer hidden behind enforced checkout—you just receive a reminder to enter the data when you can.

One-stop shopping for everything about your documents—Thanks to Office Online integration, you can navigate a complete document preview at the top of the information panel. The panel offers metadata, including the history of recent activity, updates to the file and who received a share to the file. You can also add more users or immediately stop all sharing. Finally, all other file properties are displayed, in case there’s anything else not already covered.

This will improve usability and make it easier to adopt taxonomies for end users.

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