Updates to the SharePoint Framework

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With the latest SharePoint Virtual Summit and MS Build Keynote, Microsoft unveiled the latest innovations for SharePoint Framework. The following are features to be added on the next SharePoint Framework  update scheduled for the next month.

Web part connections

 The first reveal was something the community has been asking for since the unveiling of the SharePoint Framework about a year ago. It’s the answer to the question “What if I want multiple web parts on a page to comunicate with each other?” and the team behind the SharePoint Framework development listened and delivered. The solution is the Web part connections. The following image represents it’s architecture:

SharePoint Subscription Example

As shown in the image above a  client side web part can subscribe to events from the SharePoint Framework either by using an event name or by using an id of the event originator. When a web part raises an event towards the SharePoint Framework, the framework will notify the web parts in the page that are subscribed to it.

For now it’s only available programmatically but it was pointed out that it will be wrapped in a friendly UI sometime in the future.

SharePoint Framework Extensions

From here on out a bunch of sections of a modern page are customizable by the SharePoint Framework (for example the header of a page). These are meant to provide useful  information to the user or some kind of custom experience involving metadata. To achieve this on the next update Microsoft will provide the SharePoint Framework Extensions.

With the SPFx Extensions JavaScript code can embed with different scopes on SharePoint (Page, Site, Site collection).

For the time being there will exist only three types of SharePoint Framework Extensions:

  • Application customizer – to embed JavaScript across all pages in a scope.
  • Command set customizer – to embed JavaScript related to action buttons. Providing custom actions to the SharePoint menus. Can be configured to be active when numerous items are selected.
  • Field customizer – to embed JavaScript for field specific UI rendering. It can be associated with a specific field instance to make customization execute when it’s used.

extensions example

In terms of development process SharePoint Framework Extensions are completely independent from web parts and will have it’s own Yeoman template. A project can contain multiple web parts and extensions that can work together to achieve a more integrated experience.

To implement extensions SPFx will provided (just like for the web parts) Base classes for each type of extension with all the necessary methods to customize either certain placeholders on a page or fields on a list view or add custom commands as we wish.

It was also pointed out that they intend to add new types of Extensions in the future.

Integration with Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph

Last but not least it was also announced that the SPFx will support integration with Microsoft Graph.

Microsoft Graph allows access to a world of Office365 information. This is critical to building  richer and more engaging web applications. There will be a new API (GraphHttpClient) for accessing Graph within the SharePoint Framework-developed web parts and extensions.

One example of the usage of this API could be scenarios like fetching the profile information or lists of users within a group. Support for these SharePoint Framework Graph APIs will be included in preview form, coming soon.

Summary

With all of these updates to the SharePoint Framework we will be able to build pages with modern web parts that communicate with each other,  show relevant data or metadata provided from the Microsoft Graph API on parts of the page. All of this will ammount to developing a more engaging and sofisticated user experience.

Whats coming up…

In addition to the these updates, later this year the SharePoint Framework will be integrated with on-premises with Feature Pack 2 for SharePoint Server 2016. The following image comes from the MS Build Keynote and gives us the broad spectrum of the plans for the future updates.

SharePoint Framework roadmap

 

 

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