Tools for the new SharePoint framework
Vesa Juvonen and Waldek Mastykarz from the OfficeDev Patterns & Practises -team have released a new Channel 9 video titled “Getting started with SharePoint Framework”. In this video Vesa and Waldek go through the full development cycle of a Client Web Part using the upcoming SharePoint Framework.
The development cycle utilizes multiple different web development tools, which are actually already quite popular in the general web development world, but might be quite new to a traditional SharePoint developer.
Wikipedia defines Node.js as “an open-source, cross-platform runtime environment for developing server-side Web applications.”
The SharePoint Framework and the development cycle utilizes Node.js to run tools like Gulp and for hosting your Client WebPart during development. But these things will be prepared for you by Microsoft and/or by the community. So you don’t need to learn to write Node applications to be able to create Client WebParts using the new SharePoint Framework.
Fortunately npm is quite easy to use. Mostly you will just
install packages with the
npm --save-dev packagename command.
If npm is the NuGet for Node.js, then the Visual Studio counterpart
for Yeoman is the project template. When you select the
project template in in Visual Studio, Visual Studio will initialize
your project with all the initial files and settings. When developing
Client WebParts, you’ll initialize your project with Yeoman instead.
This is done by running something like
yo sharepoint in
the command prompt.
The yeoman templates will be provided for you by Microsoft, so that single command will be most likely everything you need to know about Yeoman.
Gulp is a build process tool, which runs
on top of Node. It can be compared to MSBuild, which is used by
Visual Studio when you press
F5 in the IDE.
A gulp build process consists of different tasks which are writen
with the shell command
Yet again, the build tasks for Gulp are part of the SharePoint Framework and you don’t have to write them yourself. The SharePoint Framework will contain the necessary gulp tasks for building your solution, starting the development-time webserver, packaging the solution and uploading your bundled WebPart code to a CDN.
In my opinion, TypeScript is the thing you should be studying right now if you want to be prepared for the new SharePoint Framework when it launches. The other things so far (Node, Yeoman, Gulp) are mostly just tools you’ll be using to get your WebPart compiled.
React and Flux
The final thing that is mentioned quite often with SharePoint Framework is the React-library. React is a UI library developed by Facebook and Instagram. It helps you create a set of individual UI components (with data-binding) and wire them together to create the full UI of your WebPart.
The new SharePoint Framework will have support for UI components written with React and lot’s of the examples and tutorials about the SharePoint Framework will most likely be utilizing React-library for rendering the user interface. But using React is not required by the framework. You can use Knockout, Angular or just plain TypeScript to render the UI instead.
I definitely encourage you to learn about React (and also the Flux architecture model) when preparing for the new SharePoint Framework. But if you have to choose between TypeScript and React, then I personally would start with TypeScript!
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