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Q&A with Boris Scholl on SharePoint 2010 Development and Certification

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Development in Microsoft SharePoint 2010 can be complex, especially for new developers. Thanks to a new book, SharePoint 2010 Development with Visual Studio 2010, you no longer have to know every detail of SharePoint’s architecture to start developing for it. SharePoint architect Boris Scholl discusses the basics of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 development and the associated certification exam content.
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Please tell our audience about your Addison-Wesley Professional title SharePoint 2010 Development with Visual Studio 2010.

Even though SharePoint could be called a development platform, it has been really hard for developers to quickly ramp up on SharePoint development as it required deep knowledge in SharePoint architecture and infrastructure. Trust me; I’ve been working with SharePoint pretty much since V1, and even with that knowledge it wasn’t as easy and intuitive as ASP.NET development. Also, there were almost no tools available for SharePoint development. For example, once a web part was developed (which by the way had to be done in code by overriding render methods as there was no designer available) there were still a lot of manual steps required to debug the solution and deploy it SharePoint. The situation changed when the Office team released the Windows SharePoint Services Extensions for Visual Studio in 2005. This is an Add On, which can be installed on Visual Studio 2005 or 2008, that allows developers to build, debug, package, and deploy SharePoint solutions. While this was a big leap for SharePoint developers, the extensions still didn’t enable ASP.NET developers to quickly ramp up on SharePoint development and start writing SharePoint applications.

With SharePoint 2010 development support in Visual Studio 2010, it’s now easier for developers to get started with SharePoint development as it offers visual designers, packaging, and deployment support; project items and templates; ALM support; and project and tool extensibility. Our book is really about how to get started developing SharePoint Applications with Visual Studio 2010. In our chapters we explain the different SharePoint items that are most commonly developed or extended and show readers how they can accomplish this with Visual Studio 2010. I also want to mention that our book targets SharePoint Foundation.

Who is the chief audience for your book? What do you assume in terms of the readers’ prior experience with .NET development in general and SharePoint development in particular?

I’d say in general it’s the .NET developer who wants to get into the SharePoint development world, but as we have designed the Visual Studio Tools, I would also recommend the book to experienced SharePoint developers as it provides some tips and tricks how to use Visual Studio more effectively.

What are the coolest features, both within SharePoint 2010 as well as in the Visual Studio 2010 toolset, to benefit developers?

There are so many cool features in both products but if I have to choose, I’d say it is the extensibility on the Visual Studio side. For example, you can develop custom deployments steps. Or even better, you can develop your own designer (such as a list designer) that hooks into the Visual Studio SharePoint project system and uses all the functionality provided by the system, i.e. feature designer, packaging designer, etc.

On the SharePoint side, it’s the developer dashboard, and Silverlight and REST support.

Some say that being a SharePoint professional means wearing many “hats,” including server administration, database administration, Web server/service administration, etc. How much SharePoint development expertise is required for a systems administrator in order to leverage SharePoint 2010 to its fullest capacity?

First of all, I don’t think system administrators will ever leverage SharePoint to its fullest capacity unless they are trained in SharePoint.

Once trained in SharePoint, I don’t think administrators need to have deep development expertise but they must be familiar with the concept of solutions, sandboxed solutions, and features.

In analyzing the published objectives for the 70-573 and 70-576 exams, what are the content areas that examinees are most likely to have difficulty with, and how does your book address these issues?

Looking at the skills measured in exam 70-573 TS, our book would be a great benefit for preparation. It not only explains the concept of SharePoint artifacts such as lists, web parts, and the SharePoint object model, but also tells you how to best implement those artifacts with Visual Studio[md]and provides background information why things need to be done in a certain way.

What tools are required in order for an aspiring SharePoint developer to get started and reduce his or her learning curve?

  • Computer with an x64-capable CPU, and at least 6 gigabytes of RAM
  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional
  • If a Windows Server is too expensive, you can also use Windows 7 or Vista Service Pack 1 x64, or Windows Vista Service Pack 2 x64.
  • SharePoint Foundation, which is freely available. I would also recommend installing SharePoint as it is a good exercise.

In closing, what would you like to tell our audience with respect to how they can use their book to build or augment their SharePoint 2010 development expertise?

Whether beginner or pro, our book provides a great value ad for all. Beginners can use the book as a detailed guide for building their first SharePoint applications, and pros can use it as a reference guide for how to develop SharePoint Foundation artifacts with Visual Studio.

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