SPAAP - SHAREPOINT AS A PLATFORM

SharePoint As A Platform is not a new term. It has been around since SharePoint was created. Not only is SharePoint a world class content management system, it is also a world class platform.
This is very evident with Microsoft's continuing investment in the feature rich APIs, CSOM and PowerShell cmdlets. Accessing and using the product as an intermediary layer opens up a world of possibilities and allows for the latest and greatest content and frameworks to run on top of a solid Microsoft stack.
We have started to take this approach with all of our design work and have started to resurrect the term SharePoint As A Platform - SPAAP. SPAAP is a mind-set that has three very distinct goals to help push the usage of the product into the next generation of web development.

We are rolling out and producing content for SPAAP as a true community commodity. We are ensuring that everything is commented so you can take and use any part of it as you see fit. The true meaning of community for us is that the IT Professionals of tomorrow will stand on the shoulders of today.

SPAAP CAN ...

Create responsive sites and portals -

Create accessible sites and portals -

Become provider agnostic -

SPAAP Overview Image
Responsive Site Image

GOAL 1 - CREATE RESPONSIVE SITES AND PORTALS

The introduction of many different device types and sizes (not to mention platforms and capacity) has pushed the wider user community to surface content on the most convenient device for them, which is most often the mobile phone or tablet.

Things are starting to move in the right direction with the Office UI fabric which is being used in the Add-in model as well as the project and video hubs in Office 365 - but once again this a new framework that will require time to learn and is Microsoft specific. The world at large outside of the Microsoft stack is more comfortable with Bootstrap which is the default for most front facing sites in this day and age.

In order for SharePoint to become responsive the elements inside the pages need to understand the concept of re-sizing. This is made difficult with the use of the master page. Creating your responsive site using standard SharePoint development is not only costly but also runs the risk that certain tags and elements will be over-written when the next CU or Service Pack arrives.

What we are attempting to do with SPAAP from a responsive standpoint is allow feature rich HTML 5 templates to run on top of SharePoint, without using a master page, but also maintaining the consistency that shared elements need. So in essence we are doing the job of the master page without the need for one.

This approach allows for very rapid responsive development and allows the HTML 5 template to integrate into the SharePoint stack natively. This makes receiving, creating and using content from your SharePoint platform much easier and far more secure whilst also giving your user base the professional and responsive look and feel they demand.

GOAL 2 - CREATE ACCESSIBLE SITES AND PORTALS

If SharePoint has had one criticism over the years it has been for its lack of meaningful accessibility. In the UK, 11% of adults have some form of disability meaning that a non-accessible approach to portal and web design is cutting out a potential 11% user base, not to mention the proportion of the work force that uses assisted technologies.

The same issues plague this area as they do for responsive design. The use of the master page and controls ensure that making a truly accessible experience is quite difficult. With this goal we aim to ensure that the latest WCAG 2.0 standards are capable of being implemented in all of our SharePoint designs.

We are doing this by working closely with and taking guidance from the Digital Accessible Centre to ensure that the next round of SharePoint portals and web sites conform as required. The Digital Accessibility Centre are a social enterprise that ensure that all of their testers have disabilities so when assistive technologies are used to review and audit the sites you can be assured that a pass truly is a pass.

All of this is made possible by using HTML 5 templates on top of SharePoint that respond and conform to these standards and due to the consistency introduced by SPAAP Section Replacer, changing and altering core functionality to confirm to accessibility standards is now possible.

WCAG Image
Provider agnostic image

GOAL 3 - BECOME PROVIDER AGNOSTIC

With the march towards the cloud being the norm these days the ability to move your SharePoint platform is becoming key.

Traditionally, SharePoint provider moves have meant extremely complex and in most cases costly code re-writes.

Everything we are trying to achieve with SPAAP is to try and ensure that the system, portal or web you create using the SPAAP can be transferred seamless between Providers.

This allows you the ability to control your technology and systems without fear of being hit with a hefty price tag or a nightmare code re-write.

SECTION REPLACER

Section Replacer is an open community tool with no rights or restrictions.

When using HTML 5 web templates on SharePoint, in the past, each page was individual and any changes to one page had to replicated to the other pages manually unless a master page was used. Section replacer works by having tags in the HTML 5 pages that outline the common areas of each page (Like the footer or the global nav). It then takes the HTML that you store in the background lists on your SharePoint site and puts the content inside the tags of each page.

You update the SharePoint list with new content, tick the update option and the next time section replacer runs it will grab all the aspx pages in the template and update the tag in each page with your changes. The tool works specifically against HTML 5 templates. It runs locally on a client PC from inside the SPAAP folder. The client in question does not have to be part of a domain

It uses the PowerShell Client Side Object Model to interact with your SharePoint platform so does not need to be used from a SharePoint server. All of the code has been written to cater for On Premise or Office 365 deployments so the tool will run against any SharePoint platform.

The tool has been created to run in a folder structure on the C: drive with all code and functions broken out into separate files that can be examined, studied and tweaked at your leisure. Please ensure that you use the tool in a test environment and ensure that you understand the concepts behind the tools operation before using it in any environment.

The tool itself is provided "as-is" and you use at your own risk. Please ensure that you read all the documentation provided before using it and view the instructional videos opposite

SharePoint as a Platform Logo, Section Replacer version

Download Video: MP4 Format: "MP4"

SharePoint as a Platform Logo, Troubleshooter version

Download Video: MP4 Format: "MP4"

TROUBLE SHOOTER

SPAAP Trouble Shooter is a small utility that is a direct result of the internal Development Pperations approach at Sundown Solutions. During the creation of SPAAP and many other portals the need to surface properties from the Object Model was ever present, especially when dealing with internal names for columns.

This used to entail going into PowerShell on the back end servers and pulling the data in the object model a solution that was difficult to replicate using Office 365 for obvious reasons. This meant lots of time spent trawling the internet for code to get the correct properties or enabling other tools like dashboard designer all for the sake of getting the correct internal name of a column.

This is why we developed SPAAP Trouble Shooter to help speed up the process considerably. This is a low code solution that runs seamlessly on any SharePoint installation and surfaces the JSOM Object Model properties for:

  • The SPWeb Object you are on
  • All list items in that Web Object
  • List properties for any selected list
  • Properties for any selected item

SPAAP Trouble Shooter is provided as a community tool to use as you wish and at your own risk. It is recommended that you read all documentation before you use it and it is provided "as-is"

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