Author: Steve Wright
Aimed at: SharePoint developers
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
Will this book help you develop SharePoint apps in the cloud?
There's a new cloud app model in SharePoint 2013 Server and SharePoint Online that lets you create apps that run in the cloud rather than on the local server, so minimizing any effects on the local performance. You can work using normal Visual Studio, and once developed, the apps can be sold through the Microsoft SharePoint Store. It's an interesting idea, and this book takes you step by step through the process of creating such an app.
The book starts with an introduction to SharePoint apps and how they fit with not just SharePoint but with Azure and SQL Azure. This is a high-level intro, and Chapter 2 is still fairly high level in discussions about whether to use Visual Studio or Napa, with exercises working through both options. Wright next shows how to deploy and update apps either locally in SharePoint's App Catalog, or online in the SharePoint Online Store.
Having gone through the basics, the book moves on to more advanced topics. There's a good chapter on using JQuery for client-side logic including using the free Knockout Library for client-side binding. Wright then looks at how you can interact with objects such as SharePoint lists, sites and documents.
App security and how to deal with app permissions and scopes is tackled next, with good coverage of scope rules, authentication and identities. By Chapter 7 we're on to web services with REST and OData, how to choose the right client-side library, and managing data. Business Connectivity Services are the next topic under consideration, with plenty of examples and exercises showing how you can make use of data stored outside SharePoint.
By Chapter 9, Wright has moved on to app logic components – how to build the middle tier of your application. This is the point a lot of developers get bogged down, but Wright's descriptions are more down-to-earth than most and his description of workflows and how to code to use them seemed comprehensible. I was less convinced by the next chapter on developing the user experience. Site branding and immersive pages are undoubtedly important, but more a matter for the marketing department. To be fair to Wright, his aim is to show you how to write apps that can be integrated into an existing branded site rather than trying to turn you into a marketing person. The next chapter returns to more technical topics with a look at SharePoint Search, how to add search to your apps and how to show search results within them.
SharePoint 2013 has a range of options for using social features – tagging, likes, mentions, and so on – and there's a good if fairly short chapter on how to use community sites, share content, and develop personal sites for users. The last two chapters look at using SharePoint Services to enhance apps, and using other app environments such as Office and Windows Phone apps.
This is a good read, with plenty of code and exercises to work through. Wright manages to stay pretty level-headed and not fall into SharePoint jargon madness, and overall I think if you followed through the exercises you'd end up being able to create useful SharePoint apps.