Office365 Makes Developing in SharePoint’s Middle Tier More Relevant

If you’ve stuck your head out from under your rock at all recently, you’ve heard about Office365. There was a huge hullabaloo in NYC and elsewhere yesterday to accompany the “big announcement” (which most of us have been hearing about for probably six months now) as Microsoft launched Office365 globally .

It may not surprise you to know that the reason I’m excited about Office365 has little to do with Office365 itself. Office365 is simply SharePoint (with Office, Exchange, and Lync too, but I’m all about SharePoint) in “the cloud”. Some of us have been using SharePoint in the cloud for a long time already, through the good work of people like FPWeb. In fact, I’ve had my Sympraxis Consulting site in the cloud with FPWeb since late 2008 and it’s where I do all of my SPServices development as well as where I host my public-facing site. (Yeah, my public-facing site for Sympraxis is a bit tired; it serves me little purpose in the grand scheme of things, though is is where you can see my demos and such.)

So why does Office365 have me excited? Why, its limitations, of course! For every whine I hear from a “real” SharePoint developer, I see an opportunity for a SharePoint Middle Tier developer. All of the Middle Tier development techniques work great with hosted SharePoint, regardless where it is, because we don’t need to touch the server. All of our code (XSL, XML, CSS, jQuery, JavaScript) goes into the database just like any other content.

So if your organization is thinking about moving to the cloud, seriously think about which business requirements you can fulfill by developing in SharePoint’s Middle Tier.  Read the white paper called The Middle Tier Manifesto: An Alternative Approach to Development with Microsoft SharePoint which I wrote last April and see if it doesn’t start to make a little more sense now that you’re thinking about cloud computing. (Yes, I can be prone to saying “I told you so”, but I won’t do it this time.)

My recent survey about SPServices usage (more details on those results will be forthcoming) says that 26% of SPServices users may be heading in the cloud direction, and they are already well-equipped to take advantage of it.


Here comes a shameless plug for a business I’m a part of and extremely passionate about. If you’d like to learn more about Middle Tier development techniques, consider taking one of my courses at USPJ Academy. I currently have three courses available in both collaborative and self-paced versions which cover SharePoint’s Middle Tier:

  • Data View Web Part Basics
  • Enhancing the User Experience with jQuery
  • Introduction to the SharePoint Web Services

So hurray for Office365!