Bamboo Solutions Extends SharePoint to the Cloud with Mashpoint

Bamboo Solutions provides a number of web parts and applications for the SharePoint platform. One that is particularly interesting is their MashPoint solution - a free version of the MOSS Business Data Catalog. Now that solution proves even more enticing as Bamboo announces a Mashpoint API which serves to offer a REST-based interface to not only MashPoint, but to SharePoint itself.

What is MashPoint Again?

MashPoint first came to surface back in June, not too long after Bamboo figured out how to run SharePoint on Windows Vista. Basically, it's a free data integration platform for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 which enables you to develop and integrate enterprise applications into WSS without the need of MOSS and the Business Data Catalog.

A very nice feature for those who really can't afford to upgrade to the Enterprise Version of SharePoint, but really want to integrate non-SharePoint data.

Creating the MashPoint REST API

With MashPoint, we have this ability to create applications from various content sources such as databases, web services and other custom providers, but it's all based on creating server-side applications. If you wanted to incorporate MashPoint or SharePoint data into client-side applications like MS Office, a local .Net app or in an AJAX environment in the browser, you really were out of luck.

Until now.

Bamboo has just released a preview of their new REST-based API for MashPoint and SharePoint. The new API enables you to create client-side gadgets that give you full access to the SharePoint object model and your other systems without having to create assemblies on the server.

MashPoint REST API Features

  • Automated discovery of SharePoint resources
  • Out of the box support for XHTML, ATOM+XML (ADO.NET Data Services and GData) and JSON
  • Supports iCalendar and vCard
  • Access to LOB apps and Legacy data using MashPoint
  • Enables SharePoint to be a part of a SOA architecture

A fully extensible API, you can develop your own serializers and mappers. Both Visual Studio and Notepad can consume these new REST services, making development easy. You can run through how this works with a sample on their community site.

A Limited Beta

This release of the MashPoint REST API is beta and as such doesn't contain the full functionality planned. The current release gives you support for all resources and representations with a READ only method. You can expect additional methods in follow up releases.

You can download the Bamboo REST installer to start using REST to access SharePoint. You can also download the official release of MashPoint here, but you don't need it to use the REST API to access SharePoint itself, just to access additional applications.

Extending SharePoint

Bamboo comes out with some very good solutions to help extend SharePoint, not only the full version which we call MOSS, but also the free WSS portion. Combining MashPoint and the MashPoint REST API, you can start to see the possibilities for cloud-based applications that integrate data from multiple sources, of which SharePoint is one.

We wonder if a solution like this will have any effect on the use of the new SharePoint Online offering, or the new WSRP Toolkit for SharePoint. Certainly for those who don't want to invest in the full MOSS version would look closely at MashPoint and Bamboo, but we would suggest that even those with both the standard and enterprise version of MOSS would look closer as well.

For MOSS users, the REST API gets them closer to the cloud-based model sooner than it seems Microsoft may get them there.