Newsletter – 07/31/2017

Here we are in the hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer once again. When you work in a small company you never know whether the summer is going to be a busy time or very quiet time. This year we’re seeing a nice mix of both. We’ve got a set of new clients and some clients we have been working with for years. The projects we’re working on are definitely very interesting and continue to stretch our minds and push us to learn new things, just like we both like it. I try to spend as much of my time as I can at our house in Little Compton, Rhode Island and Julie often goes to visit her parents in Maine. That means we’re even further apart geographically, but virtual work really does work these days. Between Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and the rest of Office 365GitHub, etc. it’s not much more difficult to work together than it would be if we sat in the same office together.

Sympraxis Development Practices

We’ve written in the past about the evolution of our simple development approaches. Since the last time we mentioned it, we have both made some strides forward to make our processes more stable and repeatable. We don’t think that setting up a good development process is the type of thing that has just one right answer. Our little company of two people has different needs than a team of 30 or more developers who need to work together would. We also find that as were working with different clients, we have different requirements, constraints, opportunities, which cause us to adapt our approaches.

Julie made the move to 100% TypeScript development about 6 months ago and as a part of that she started bundling her code using Webpack. Marc started a brand-new project about two months ago and decided he would learn some things about Webpack as he set things up. As usual, we’re using GitHub for our main repos, and we’ve expanded upon our use of gulp-save, adding Webpack to the mix. Now when we’re including an HTML file in a Content Editor Web Part (CEWP), we can reference a bundle that includes all of the JavaScript, HTML and CSS we need for the page rather than each individual file. We still use a mix of references to a CDN (usually CDNJS) and references to our own code, but with bundling we only need to reference one JavaScript file of our own. In the past that might be two or three or more – which we never really thought would make much of a difference on page load. One of the great things about adding this bundling as we’re building is that the page in fact does load quite a bit more quickly. It’s not a huge difference, but every little bit improves the user experience. Another benefit of taking a look at Webpack is it’s one of the components used by the SharePoint Framework (SPFx). While we don’t believe that most of us need to understand all of the tooling components in SPFx well in order to use SPFx, we do like to understand at least the basics of the different components. By writing our own Webpack config files with a set of NPM tasks, we can be very specific about what we want to build and in what order. After the NPM tasks run Webpack to create new JavaScript bundles, our gulp-spsave watch task takes over again and uploads the new JavaScript file to a Document Library in SharePoint. This works great with SharePoint 2013 and above and SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Framework News

Marc was just at SharePoint Saturday New York City and one of the most exciting things he saw going on with the SharePoint Framework was something that Sébastien Levert came up with over the last few months. He’s been working to get Angular running with the SharePoint Framework and has come up with a way to make it happen. This is Angular – meaning versions 2 and up – not AngularJS.  Since we prefer the Angular framework over others this was exciting news.  We have been having internal discussions about why we prefer that framework above other, potentially more popular frameworks, and it all pretty much boils down to it being the right tool for the job we do, which is more often than not creating mini-apps in Single Page Applications (SPAs) and not as many Web Parts. The difficulty has been that Angular doesn’t like to take over separate parts of the page; it wants to take over the whole thing. When we think of the concept of Web Parts we know that we want to add at least one to a page, but most often we’re adding one or more to a page, and some of them may be duplicates the same Web Part. Think about the case of list views, and the fact that we may add four or five to a given page to have the right content density to make the page useful. Sébastien worked to figure out how we how he could make Angular happy about all this and – with some help from Andrew Connell – has come up with a solution. Seb just started a blog series today that gives you a taste of how it works. We encourage you to check it out and read the series as it unfolds.

New SharePoint Communications Sites

Another exciting development in the SharePoint world is the new communication sites. When they first were rolled out to First Release, we had some trouble figuring out how to get one to show up in our tenant. By sifting through our Twitter feeds, Marc figured out a trick. We needed to switch from First Release for everyone to First Release for specific users. It turns out that those two First Release options don’t give us the same features every time. In fact, when we turned on First Release for specific users and added both of us to the list, we lost the capability to look at Microsoft Forms. That didn’t bother us, per se, but it showed that those two different First Release settings mean that you may see different functionality. We don’t think that was very clear – at least not to us and perhaps not to the rest of the SharePoint community.

SharePoint Saturday New England

We are both on the team working to bring you SharePoint Saturday New England in Burlington, MA on October 28. If you are interested in speaking or sponsoring, please check out our Web site to get in touch.  Also, for those interested in attending, be looking for registration to open up towards the end of the month. We’d especially like to give speaking opportunities to folks who haven’t spoken at a SharePoint event before. Many of us got our speaking start at a SharePoint Saturday. If you have a story to tell and are passionate about how you use SharePoint or one of the adjunct tools, please consider submitting a session. Think you’ll need some help or support? Well, we’re here for you for that as well.

Other Upcoming Events

As were looking at the beginning of August sneaking up on us, we often think of the conferences in it and events that we’ve got scheduled for the rest of the year. As in years past we are both looking forward to some great conferences, some of which we’ve been to before and others which will be new for us. Julie is headed to SharePoint Fest in Seattle in the middle of August to share her thoughts on how to Build a Complete Business Solution using Microsoft Graph API through Client Side Web Parts and how to work some BI magic without Power BI in her session BI for the Cobbler’s Children: JavaScript Charting and Graphing.
Marc will be heading to Stockholm to one of our favorite SharePoint conferences: SEF, aka SharePoint and Exchange Forum. Goran Husman and his team at Humandata are taking us on a magical mystery tour from Stockholm to Talinn and back on the Tallink line. We’ll do our sessions on the ship and in Tallin, making this perhaps the first movable, international SharePoint conference? No, wait! We went to from Stockholm to Helsinki a few years back!

Of course, the big kahuna is Microsoft Ignite at the end of September. We’re looking forward to all the great new stuff we’ll hear from Microsoft over the course of that week. As Microsoft MVPs, we have a few insights into what’s coming, but there are always things we don’t hear about ahead of time. Expect some surprises!

Marc will be heading to SPTechCon in Washington, DC, November 12-15, where he’ll be performing some of his greatest hits:

Recent Blog Posts

It’s hard to believe that our last newsletter was way back in March. Since then we have both been busy on the blogging front. Here are the links to the posts we’ve put out there since March. Hopefully you’ll find something here that is useful, especially if you missed any posts as they first came out.

Julie’s Posts

Marc’s Posts

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Sympraxis Consulting, LLC | 831 Beacon Street, Suite 118 | Newton Center, MA 02459 | Phone: 617.633.2051