The webcast deck and recording
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Tiered Development – Use the Right Tool
One message I was really trying to get across on the webcast yesterday was the three tiers of tools for doing development. The Web UI the broad first tier that nearly all environments support from commodity on up. The SharePoint Designer tier which itself could be broken down into three tiers of workflow, design, and app dev, and lastly visual studio which is where the buck stops. SharePoint designer becomes both a customization tool, but also a rapid deployment and application prototyping tool.
The piece that most miss is the strict requirement of really doing full development life cycle management with application development. Many think you need to do all development in production. While it is true that most elements designed with SharePoint designer with workflows are not portable, a number of things are… such as master pages, and many web parts. Even many that integrate with external data can be exported from the page and reimported. The key is understanding the dependencies and avoiding the hardcoded GUIDs. I don’t have time to go into that rich detail, but this diagram attempts to simplify the common SharePoint development lifecycle where development assets begin in some development environment where the dev team introduce their changes from some TFS or source control system to be introduced for coexistence and validation. Then on to a test or QA environment, where there may be multiple stages prior to a production environment. Oddly enough many customizations are introduced directly into production.
TEAM Based Development
The understanding of dev assets vs. customizations is best explained in the Team Based SharePoint Development article on MSDN. I HIGHLY recommend understanding what is being convedyed and come up with your own practicies. From SCRUM to MSF and MOF, there will be slight differences, but the principles are the same… There are HUGE differences from .NET development and it is KEY to understand these differences. This article is one of the few to explain and get it right.
Note how the dev assets flow out, and the content flows in. As well content databases or even server images can be used to simplify the complex process of establishing consistency across tiers. As well, the tool that Mike Watson has been furiously working on is sure to help this problem as well. I hope to be able to talk more openly about this one over the next couple of months.
Deployment and application development can be complex, but with the right processes in place this can be streamlined and extremely empowering for both the business and the biz dev team.
There were a couple of questions on ghosting/customization
During upgrade there was some conversation around unghosting of pages and ultimately the decision is most commonly these days…. yes, please reghost (inherit from site definition). In the future we can only expect that these lines will continue to blur as the pages are no longer SharePoint looking pages and are more WCM focused pages with custom UI and custom navigation. Looking at resources I was surprised to not find much as I expected to on this topic. Sounds like there is need for more information on this topic.