jQuery Library for SharePoint Web Services: Interim Update on What’s Coming Up in v0.5.0

This post was also published at EndUserSharePoint.com

While seemingly everyone else in the SharePoint Universe is oohing and aahing over SharePoint 2010, I continue to plod along with my jQuery Library for SharePoint Web Services.  (Follow the library on Twitter: @jQSPWS.) I’m sticking with my belief that we’re all going to be using SharePoint 2007 (WSS 3.0 or MOSS) for a good long time, and my library will help make it work better and more “coolly” for us now rather than waiting for SharePoint 2010.

SharePoint 2010 isn’t totally off my radar screen, however.  I’ve had some discussions with a couple of folks on the SharePoint team at Microsoft about making the library forward compatible with SharePoint 2010.  The SharePoint 2010 Web Services documentation is now available in the SDK at MSDN, with the existing Web Services still available (some with new operations) and new Web Services exposing the new functionality in SP2010, of course.  As I learn more about SharePoint 2010, I’ll be coming up with a strategy for supporting it.

I haven’t had this much fun writing code for a long time.  I get to learn some new approaches to things, code ’em up, and then help a bunch of you to get them implemented.  I’m having a ball.  For those of you I’ve been interacting with on the Codeplex site in the Discussions and Issue Tracker, I want you to know that I appreciate your patience in working with me to use the library.  It’s still really in its infancy, and because of your willingness to use it now, I’ll be able to come up with a better set of solutions for you and others later.

There are quite a few things coming up in v0.5.0 that are inspired directly from your troubles in early usage, and hopefully that will make it easier going forward.  There are also a bunch of enhancements and new functions on the drawing board.  I’ll let the actual Release Notes cover all of the nitty-gritty details (keep watching them, as they will evolve as the codebase evolves), but here are a few highlights you can expect in v0.5.0, coming in the next few weeks.

  • Better error handling in the key functions – Quite a few of you using the library have never touched scripting before, and that’s fine; I don’t expect you to need to debug the code.  The current implementation of functions like SPCascadeDropdowns and SPDisplayRelatedInfo gives you nothing to go on if they don’t work when you first try to use them.  I’m implementing an optional debug mode for these functions, which I’ll roll out to other functions over time.  It’ll let you know if you’re doing something obviously wrong at first, like calling the function with an invalid option.
  • New functionality – Many of you have asked that I make SPCascadeDropdowns work for multi-select lookup columns, and I’m putting that functionality into this release.
  • Added functions – I’ve been talked about SPAuditScripts for quite a while, but I haven’t gotten it done.  With this library comes a responsibility to help with management of its usage.  The SPAuditScripts function will help you do that by telling you where you or others are using script in Content Editor Web Parts (CEWPs).  I’ll have at least an initial version of this function in the release.
  • Tighter code and efficiency in the existing functions – As with most code, the first iteration isn’t always the best one.  By learning from current usage, I’m aiming to get some better code in place on some of the key functions.
  • Bug fixes – See the list in the Release Notes.

This release will be bigger and take longer than my early iterations; the first releases often had only days between them.  Now that there are so many of you out there actually using the darn thing, I owe it to you to be taking a more thorough and careful approach to new enhancements, especially those which impact existing functionality.  That said, if you’d like to be on the beta testing team, drop me a line through the library’s Codeplex site or my blog.  You’ll get access to the new bits ahead of everyone else and can help make the library better and better for others.  If you do drop me a line, let me know a little about your background and goals; it’ll help me as well.  I’ll probably be reaching out to those of you who have had specific issues to try some new bits out for me to get your feedback as well.

Finally, I’m doing all this because I love it, but several of you have indicated that you’d be willing and interested in contributing to the effort monetarily.  (The offer of French Fries was even better!)  I’m looking into how I can rig something up so that you can contribute to an organization that means a lot to me instead.  Watch for details on that in the upcoming days or weeks.  I do work for a living, of course, so also consider Sympraxis Consulting for your next SharePoint project.  We’ve got a pretty good toolkit.