On 2/23/2017 Microsoft announced the General Availability release of the SharePoint Framework to Office 365 tenancies. This is a very exciting time for SharePoint developers as the SharePoint Framework allows us to take advantage of development tools and processes that truly enhance the developer experience. Having worked with multiple client side development toolkits in the past I can honestly say “It’s about time!”.
If you are a developer and have already been using toolkits, the learning curve isn’t going to be very steep but if you have been stuck in Sandboxed/Farm solution land you probably want to get your feet wet immediately. As of this moment SharePoint Framework is only rolling out to SharePoint Online and if you are working in an environment that solely uses on-premises SharePoint there isn’t really an immediate benefit but trust me when I tell you this…you want to be developing solutions like this in SharePoint if at all possible.
The list of things you really should know to take advantage of the SharePoint Framework might seem a bit daunting but as you put each piece of the puzzle in place it makes more and more sense. If things like TypeScript, React, Angular, NPM, Node.js, Gulp, WebPack and Yeoman seem like some strange, foreign vernacular to you now it’s time to catch up with the web development community. Microsoft likely realizes some SharePoint developers do not have experience with these tools and as such as given us great resources to get up to speed on the SharePoint Framework, commonly abbreviated SPFx.
You will also likely see a flurry of activity on the GitHub repository for the SPFx over the next few weeks as samples are updated to reflect the General Release. When this was initially announced last May I was up and running with a “Hello World” web part in less than 30 minutes so I am hopeful that you will have the same experience I did those many months ago. If you have been doing a lot of client side development in SharePoint this will be a welcome change from Script Editor web parts or utilizing SharePoint Designer and if you have been doing strictly Sandboxed/Farm based solutions it might take a little ramp up but your development experience will be so much better, it will be hard to pass this up.
Granted we are still “stuck” with the limitations surrounding the CSOM and REST API in SharePoint but ultimately I believe that to be a good thing as it prohibits us from doing too much damage. This also adds another development paradigm and now we really should know Sandboxed, Farm, Add-Ins, and SPFx but I truly believe the SPFx rollout is a sign that Microsoft is pushing SharePoint in the right direction from a development perspective. Besides I like to have as many tools as I possibly can, my garage is evidence of that fact.