SP2013_logo.jpg
Last night the world was a buzz with the news of SharePoint 2013 -- yep, that's Microsoft's official name for the newest version of the SharePoint platform. But what's in a name really? It's what's inside that counts, right? Let's take a minute and skim the surface before all the partners start distributing their news.

The Details Are in the Download

Two ways to try out SharePoint 2013 -- download SharePoint 2013 Preview or sign up for a trial of Office 365 and try SharePoint in the cloud. Note that the download requires Windows 8 Server or Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, plus SQL Server 2008 R2 or SQL Server 2012 (both 64bit). So you have some work to do.

SharePoint Gets More Social

Community Templates

There are two new social templates in SharePoint 2013 -- Community Site and Community Portal -- that take the concept of discussions a lot further. Community Sites are similar to what you experience with Facebook, although this is more than a social network. You can deploy a standalone community or community enable an existing SharePoint site.

A Community Portal is essentially a dashboard of all the community sites across a Site Collection or a SharePoint Farm. It's search driven, allowing users to search for communities that might interest them. And note - it displays communities based on the users permissions.

With these new templates comes the end of a number of SharePoint 2010 templates including: Document Workspace template, Personalization Site template, all five Meeting Workspace templates, Group Work Site template.

My Sites

My Sites is your personal dashboard for SharePoint 2013. In this latest version you'll find a completely new interface that includes easier navigation through your My Site and to other My Sites. There are also Newsfeed and Microblog features. The Newsfeed is an activity stream of updates from content and people you are following, with the addition of a microblogging capabilities that enables you to comment and reply on items in the feed, post pictures and links, use hashtags, mentions and likes.

Also note that there are permissions and administration settings that need to be managed for My Sites.

Web Content Management

You didn't think Microsoft wouldn't make some enhancements to the web content management capabilities of SharePoint 2013 did you? There are:

Content Authoring Improvements: Copy content from MS Word and paste it into a rich text editor web part, a content editor web part or an HTML control and have that content automatically format according to the site designer's styles. You can also drag and drop navigation menus to customize both global and current navigation. There are also improvements to using videos, to embed content from other locations and support for image renditions.

For multilingual sites, variations are now used exclusively. With variations you have different sites each with its own copy of the content (relationships between the content on each site are managed). With the new cross-site publishing capability you can have one or more author site collections that feed one or more publishing site collections. Also note there is a new integrated translation service. This is a topic of great interest so we'll be sure to go deeper in later articles.

Managed Navigation is another new feature that allows you to create navigation based on term sets. A good approach when you have a product website or even to create a special website navigation not related directly to site navigation.

A few other new features:

  • User friendly URLs
  • A Content Search Web Part
  • Faceted Navigation
  • Analytics & Recommendations
  • Device specific targeting
  • Branding with SharePoint master page super knowledge

Let's make a quick note here that Web Analytics for SharePoint 2010 is also not available in SharePoint 2013 -- it has been replaced by the Analytics Processing Component.

It's Getting Cloud-Y

Want to build an application that integrates with SharePoint 2013? Well there's a new way to do that now. It's called the Cloud App model and you'll find it in the new SharePoint store. There's been a bit of chatter about Microsoft creating its own app store and approaching the development of supporting applications in a new way.

SharePoint 2013 apps can be built using OAuth 2.0 authentication protocol, RESTful web services and client APIs (such as Javascript and .NET). Microsoft provides a number of functions that you can connect your apps to including: search, workflow, social networking, taxonomy, user profiles and Business Connectivity Services (BCS).

As far as hosting your app, use your own Web stack, host it on Azure or on SharePoint itself (or do some combination):

HostedApps4SharePoint.jpg

The whole process of creating and deploying SharePoint apps is also of great interest and we'll dig deeper into this Cloud App model.

I've picked out some of the things that are new with SharePoint 2013 -- but there's more, so stay tuned.