On April 30th, 2013 Microsoft Arabia arranged a mega event in the coastal city, Jeddah. The main focus of the event was the latest version of SharePoint, SharePoint 2013. The first event on this topic was conducted in Khobar on 28th of April. The third and the last event will take place on 5th of May in Riyadh. In Jeddah it was a male-only event.
The agenda of this event was as below:
Time Session Details
08:00 – 09:00 Registration and Breakfast
09:00 – 10:00 Keynote
10:00 – 10:15 Break
10:15 – 11:15 What’s new in SharePoint 2013 for Developers
11:15 – 11:30 Break
11:30 – 12:30 Overview of Enterprise Social
12:30 – 01:30 Prayer and Lunch
01:30 – 02:30 Create Cloud-hosted apps for SharePoint Part 1
02:30 – 02:45 Break
02:45 – 03:45 Create Cloud-hosted apps for SharePoint Part 2
03:45 – 04:00 Break
04:00 – 05:00 Building Windows 8 Apps with SharePoint 2013
05:00 – 05:30 Closing and Prize Draw
Session 1 – Keynotes
The keynotes were delivered by Ammar Abuthuraya, Platform Strategy Manager at Microsoft Arabia. During the keynotes, the main focus was on Office 2013 and Office 365. Office is one of the most matured products. In Office 2007, there was a huge facelift and the concept of ribbons were introduced ( instead of classic menus). In office 2010, there were minor alterations in main user interface with an attempt to reduce the gap between office 2003 and the latest version of office. In office 2013, the main user interface is almost same office 2010. A lot of improvements have been implemented in the backend of the latest version of office e.g. the startup is noticeably faster as compared to the previous versions. Many other highly level (advanced) features have been added i.e. now we can open videos inside the office, open in a browser is no more required. An OCR engine has been implemented that will attempt to open the PDF files as text, if the conversion is unsuccessful (i.e. in case of Arabic) the file will still be displayed but as images.
Office 365 is a new (or reintroduced) subscription based Cloud version of office. It starts for as low as 4$ (~15 SR) per user per month. The user setting and customization is linked with his/her Microsoft Account. It is possible to start writing a document on your office machine and leave it in the middle, when you reach home, you can continue from where you left.
Office 365 Home Premium offers a very economic package of 100$ per year. Also, a user can use his subscription on up-to five devices (desktop, laptop, tab, mobile etc.). If a user is interested in native application instead of web version, a download of common applications is available for different platforms.
Microsoft Office Apps and Lync where also described briefly.
Session 2 – What’s New in Sharepoint 2013
This session was delivered by Ali Khawaja, Architect, Microsoft USA. As the title suggest, in this session Ali tried to cover the NEW or Improved features of Sharepoint 2013.
Some of the features mentioned are:
- Apps: The concept of apps have been introduced. Apps are much improved form of WebParts. Using apps we can display any type of contents on a SharePoint page with a possibility of an external data source. The concept of apps is basically the brainchild of the social network, Facebook. The apps are rendered as iFrame in SharePoint page.
- Office and SharePoint Store
- SharePoint Client Side Object Model [CSOM]
- SharePoint Server Side Object Model [SSOM]
- Workflow: The workflow engine in SharePoint 2010 is based on Windows Workflow Foundation 3.5. In SharePoint 2013, it is based on WF 4.0 and 4.5. These newer engines have been re-written from scratch and provide very much improved functionality
- Access: Access service was already available in existing versions, it has been packed with new features.
- Fedration, Security and Deployment
Session 3 – Overview of Enterprise Social
This session was also conducted by Ali Khawaja. In this session Ali described about utilizing social network inside an enterprise. The main benefits of utilizing the social network in a corporate environment can be summarized in these four points:
- Employee Engagement
- Team Collaboration
- Connected Organization
- Business Agility
In 2012, Microsoft acquired the Yammer service, a private social network and now it is also available in an integrated environment of SharePoint and Office 365. For startups, a free version is also available. One thing to be noted is that Yammer is a cloud ONLY service yet. It is very easy to start and adopt Yammer as compared to SharePoint with has heavy software + hardware requirement.
Session 4 & 5 – Create Cloud-hosted apps for SharePoint
These sessions were conducted by Shoaib Barry, Applications Developer at ISC Saudi Arabia. To host an app there are three options:
- SharePoint Hosted
- Auto Hosted
- Provider Hosted
Each of the hosting environment has its own merits and demerits. To begin with SharePoint app development, the installation of SharePoint is not required. It can be built and tested using emulators and cloud support. Office 365 developer account is available with a free 30 days startup period.
To consume an app, there are three options:
- Full Page
- App Part
- Custom Action
With the highly revamped security model and available of apps, we can seamlessly populate the menus in a SharePoint page from an external source.Hosting apps in the cloud provide global exposure for all the SharePoint users scattered worldwide.
Different demos where shown by Shoaib to elaborate the new and the enhanced features.
Session 6 – Building Windows 8 Apps with SharePoint 2013
This session was conducted by Fauzan Khan, from Microsoft Arabia. Sharepoint SDK for Windows Phone 8 has been released recently. It provides the Out-of-The-Box (OOTB)support for building apps for Windows Phone 8 liked with SharePoint server.
Push Notification Stores/Service [PSN] has been provided to handle push notifications. Users can implement receivers for different app events like Upgrade, Install or Uninstall. Different demos where performed to explain these features.
Session 7 – Prize Draw
It was also conducted by Fauzan Khan, the event coordinator. User entry coupons were selected randomly and the selected attendants were presented with different prizes i.e. Microsoft Keyboard, Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft Headset etc.
Finally, this day long event came to an end around 6 PM.