SP2013: The missing designer view in SPD

Today I came across this thead on the forums, started by Marc Anderson; a well known MVP for SharePoint. He mentions the fact that SharePoint Designer 2013 is missing the “design view” known from SPD 2010. As expected, this is getting a lot of people nervous because they’re using the design view on a regular basis, for instance to tweak webparts like the Data View WebPart (DVWP). When the designer disappears, those tasks will become much more difficult and who likes difficulties, right?

I’ve post my reaction to the thread, but wanted to elaborate here too. Not so much as to start a discussion (see the thread for that), but more to get things straight as far as my view on this goes.

To begin with: as seen in my previous posts; SharePoint 2013 is all about apps. It’s clear that Microsoft is betting on us developers to go on and enrich their platform with integratable apps. This has some pro’s and con’s:

Pro’s

  • Apps are simpler than old style solutions. A simple app consist of HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Nothing more, nothing less. You can host as an ASP.NET app as well, but there’s nothing new to developing ASP.NET if you’re used to baking solutions.
  • Apps can be distributed through the marketplace, so it’s quite easy to make money. Much more easy than getting your WSP out there and making sure it’s not pirated in any way.
  • Because all of the interaction with SharePoint itself is being done via the CSOM (client side object model), SharePoint administrators will be more happy than they ever were. No more weird solutions damaging your farm, no more weird jQuery scripts doing unexpected things and breaking pages. If the app is faulty, you simply disable it and that’s that. Apps are of much smaller risk to your farm then (full trust) solutions.

Con’s

  • You need to learn the app model, that takes some time (but isn’t that hard at all)
  • You need to learn JavaScript if you didn’t know that already.
  • A power user is probably not able (or not willing) to create apps on their own.

That being said; I like the app model. I like the cleanness of it and the possibilities it gives us developers. I also understand that power users are being cut in their options of customizing SharePoint. But to be honest; I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. Of course, on every ten power users there are always a few people getting it absolutely right, extending SharePoint in a good way. But there are also folks who… how to put this nicely… mess up your carefully build environment with weird scripts they found somewhere on the Internet.

Yes, you can disable SharePoint Designer alltogether to prevent that, but that would mean you don’t have a designer view either, right? 🙂 And yes: you can put time and effort into training your power users on how to use Designer. That helps, but not always.

So should we eliminate the concept of the power user alltogether and let the developers solve every single thing? Most definitely not. But we should be careful in how much power a poweruser actually has.

And as I mentioned in my reaction on the topic; you don’t need to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 right away. Microsoft isn’t forcing you to go and use SharePoint Designer 2013 without the designer view. You’re perfectly fine when you stick to 2010 for a little while (how many of your customers are still operating 2007 for that matter?). And people are mentioning that SPD 2010 also works with SharePoint 2013, including the designer to build DVWP’s. So what’s the panic then?

I expect components for the app model will emerge soon, allowing you to get data into HTML tables without too much problems. There are already good ways to do stuff like client side databinding and what’s more configurable then plain HTML and JavaScript? It’s just a matter of acquiring the right libraries and knowledge.

Change. Some people like it, some people don’t. But getting to the future doesn’t go without it.

 

Disclaimer: I really hate dislike SharePoint Designer anyway. It’s unstable, dead slow, doesn’t do debugging and messes up my markup on a regular basis. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s dropped entirely and never returns again. But that’s coming from a Visual Studio enthousiast, just so you know. (Writing this, I realise this might change your view on this entire post… too bad 🙂 )

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