SharePoint 2010 Top 10 Features and Resources

I’ve been held to NDA for the past couple of years.  What a relief and joy it is to be able to speak openly about the great innovations in SharePoint 2010.  This list is a mix and match of what I consider the big announcements, I’m sure this list could grow tons if it was taken at a feature by feature level for SharePoint 2010, but I’ve tried to group these by what I consider investment areas that pay off and help justify both playing with the public beta and justify upgrading when you have the chance.  There are a lot of others who are making their lists… there’s Ketaahns SharePoint 14 list. (I found this link after I was done, and it’s amazing how close the lists are…)  The SharePoint Team blog has a rundown of the SharePoint 2010 Features broken down by audience including a video, that is definitely one to ingest if you haven’t.

If you missed the Keynote or missed SPC all together, the first thing I ask you to do is to step through these videos which include the SPC09 keynotes as well as SharePoint 2010 customer highlights and SPC opening video.  There are more videos, clips from the keynote like “What is SharePoint” a clip from Steve Ballmer’s keynote including some behind the scenes videos by Dux.  If you weren’t at SPC, I’m sure you already feel the pain, and I’m sorry, but I’m happy to see all of the videos and content stream from the live blogging and content twitter so people could follow or catch up.

1. Social Media Investments – status integration with my sites, newsfeeds, my network, all that social media work around the my site.  This was totally hush hush.  I expect to see this area really expanded through the public beta in terms of best practices and community awareness.  I hope to see some real effort from the community around helping establishing how to take advantage of these features. There are a few mentions in the blogosphere including John Anderson’s summary from the SPC session on Social Computing, I’m sure there will be more as the presentation and bits become available.  Also make sure you get on the RSS of the SharePoint Enterprise Social Computing Blog

2. External lists – this was a great demo during the keynote.  Showing a SQL table with contact information subsequently shown in a SharePoint external contact list, taken offline in the SharePoint Workspace, and contact objects shown in Outlook.  BDC becomes BCS (Business Connectivity Services) with even much easier systems integration. There’s some documentation on MSDN for creating an external list.  Also follow the Business Connectivity Services Team Blog

3. Large lists – the list throttling was shown off in SharePoint 2010, but the real list sizes showing real scale and control from the farm administrator was impressive.  This was definitely used by the competition in the previous version to suggest that SharePoint didn’t scale.  Despite the ability to scale to 5 million items in a list in the 2007 version, the 2000 item limit per view was often suggested as a limit for the list due to poor use by end users of the features such as indexed columns, limiting the views or using folders.  Now with multi column indexes, and better control over item limited views, you can ensure that the queries are optimized and the list throttling and viewing will be better managed for performance of the server and the list.  The happy hour controls is a happy medium for those needing to break out to do queries that are not the best.    The SPDevWiki has some of the throttling screenshots and link to the ITPRO sneak peak video.  Watch the keynote video demos that Arpan does.

4. Better Network Differencing & SharePoint Offline in SharePoint Workspace – I stopped by the SharePoint workspace booth, and I think the biggest, best innovations are in the differencing algorithm between the client and server as well as offline (closer?) experience of SharePoint.  It’s still far from the 100% offline browsing experience, that may be a pipe dream with what can be done with webparts and search.  But now we get lists, and external lists offline as well as what we had before.  The peer to peer is still there, but the SharePoint uses are much more core to the product.  The licensing model pushes this tool mainstream with Office 2010 deployments.  What’s it missing… you gotta know:  Blogs, Wikis, Pages… Of course you can get Blogs RSS feeds in Outlook.  So really it comes down to Wikis and Pages.  SharePoint Workspace Team Blog

5. High Availability/ Disaster Recovery Innovation – While I can’t give this area a 10, I do give it a B for effort.  While replication is obviously a gap.  (I know you tried.) The now built in to be mirroring aware, and the removal of fault tolerance of the services such as scaled out indexing will make it TONS easier and more reliable to backup.  The configuration based backup is huge too.  If you’re not a SharePoint 2007 admin you don’t realize how crazy the backup and unreliable SSP backup/restore was.  SharePoint Solutions Blog on the 2010 Config Backup/Restore as well as Powershell with Screenshots on Disaster Recovery for 2010

6. Unattached Recovery – I think it’s pretty big deal that the product team decided to invest in the ability to recover from a restored database.  I remember asking for this pretty much every version.  So I do have to give them big kudos for hearing me and others around the ability to recover out of the database.  The UI is in central admin.  This was shown in the IT Pro sneak peak video, but I wasn’t able to clearly talk about what they had to do to support this.  Essentially there is now an API for recovering data out of a database that isn’t in the farm.  This is huge for pulling data out of a snapshot, and really reduces the need for a recovery farm, while I don’t think it fully eliminates that need due to discovery, but that’s another blog.  SPDevwiki has some screenshots and TechNet now has articles on the Topic of Unattached 2010 Recovery.  Illia Sotnikov gives us good overview of the evolution of the 2010 Backup/Recovery features

7. Admin Insights through the Logging & Usage database, and dev dashboard – The logging database with published schema!  Thank you!  That’s awesome.  The ULS logs were such a pain, definitely looking forward to seeing all the right stuff getting logged and throttled into a database that does know what filling up drive with pure chattiness means.  (I know that was a recent fix as well.) Those types of things do matter!  The developer dashboard, ok, I’m over it.  Call it developer, that’s fine, but we’ll benefit from it too!  The dev dashboard is pure awesome.  It’s like turning on debugging.  I’d recommend setting it to “on demand” for Intranets.  Making it easy for support to troubleshoot complaints on a portal page, or collaboration sites.  Why not?  For most environments I’d suggest turning it to “on” for dev, and “on demand” for test.  On the internet you do likely want to keep it off.  (Use STSADM or powershell to toggle the setting.)  Better to have people convinced the slowness is them or the wire, not the page or the server.  It would be over most heads of the people browsing an internet page anyway who would want to blame your server or SharePoint.  Phil Wicklund – how to enable Dev Dashboard, Bob Fox has a what is Developer Dashboard, the SharePoint 2010 Dev Sneak Peak Video has a great demo of it.

8. Service Applications – The service oriented architectures and the buzz words of what SOA has become get a huge boost in SharePoint 2010.  I’d like the search from the central portal, the profiles from the social media farm, the taxonomy and meta data from the ECM environment, and analysis and access services from the Finance deployment.  As farms have become more specialized in large enterprises so have the expertise of those that run them.  The one off custom farms that may end up departmentalized, don’t have to be limited in their services.  They can get the richness of the global indexing and not have that be redundant indexing. Serge van den Oever SSP is dead, long live Service Applications, Spence Harbar has Service Applications Model Overview, and Andrew Connell’s New Service Application Architecture

9. SharePoint Designer Enhancements like portable workflows, and granular delegation – I didn’t hear the buzz I was expecting to about SPD during SPC.  The huge innovations in SPD are exactly addressing the feedback that they were asked to implement, but only the SPD fans heard it.  Portable workflows is huge, so is that ability to have people use SPD in the way you want them to.  Only want them to use the FREE, yep still free SharePoint 2010 is free, tool for workflows, fine.  Only want the design team to use it for design, that’s cool.  The NDA kept us from telling you that SharePoint Designer really makes some big moves in the right direction around portability, control, and delegation.  The same areas, that I thought it needed most.  Let alone the even further flexibility of further integration, and BCS integration. SharePoint Designer Team Blog

10. Sandbox Solutions – now solutions built from the SharePoint Designer and Visual Studio are all .WSP.  Great to see that consistency, but beyond that now SharePoint administrators can control the resources consumed from these client deployed sandboxed solutions which don’t require the admin to deploy.  While in the past SharePoint administrators needed to deploy any solution, this option, yep it’s an option, allows you to throttle the system resources and allow those who own/administer sites to deploy solutions.  The delegation and control is there.  I think we’ll see much more best practices from more usage of sandboxed solutions, but now custom farms can still run out of the box software.  It will be very interesting to see what can be done with these and how well the throttling of system resources works with these solutions. Eli Robillard’s Enhanced Security with Sandboxed Solutions, MSDN already has a Module on Sandboxed Solutions for Webparts

I save enhancements in upgrade and the real power in powershell for SharePoint 2010 for exclusive dedicated posts…  So don’t think I don’t appreciate those.  Too many to list!!! (Here’s a link to the new TechNet 2010 Upgrade Resource Center. And resources for Powershell like the SharePoint 2010 Quick start guide for Powershell, and reference on the 492 SharePoint 2010 powershell cmdlets by Dmitry Sotnikov

Here’s a quick list of the Product Team Blogs around SharePoint 2010 that will definitely be sharing more…

SharePoint 2010 Site on SharePoint 2010

Developer SharePoint 2010 MSDN Resources:

IT Pro SharePoint 2010 TechNet Resources

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