SharePoint 2013 Preview–Continuous Crawls

So I’m setting up the search app and pointing to some content sources to check out any new and interesting search functionality, looks pretty much the same as the 2010 (and 2007) interface, nothing new until I got to the crawl schedules and saw this wonderful gem:



Apparently we now get the option to have content indexed as soon as it is entered (or shortly after).  This is great for when people are using the discussions and newsfeeds and want to search on trending topics!  Note that it does say in the description:

Select the crawl schedules for this content source.

Continuous Crawl is a special type of crawl that eliminates the need to create incremental crawl schedules and will seamlessly work with the content source to provide maximum freshness.
Please Note: Once enabled, you will not be able to pause or stop continuous crawl. You will only have the option of disabling continuous crawl.

This new feature crawls the content continuously (from what I’ve been able to gather every 15 minutes, but you can change it with the Set-SPEnterpriseSearchCrawlContentSource ).  Because of changes in how the index is created and stored however, items can appear within seconds of going through the Content Processing Component.  You can read more about it here: Manage continuous crawls in SharePoint 2013 Preview

This feature is only available for content sources that use the SharePoint sites content source type.  This is something lots of SharePoint users have been wanting, and means that when the full crawl is executing you can see changes to the index while it is still running.

SharePoint 2013–Mobile Devices

So just a few quick thoughts about mobile devices and SharePoint 2013 preview

Different mobile experiences!  Nice that they give more preference to the mobile experience.  We’ve gone from the default mobile view of one size fits all to device channels, allowing designers to render a publishing site in multiple ways by using different designs that are targeted to specific platforms.  This allows us to author content once, and then map it to different devices through the use of different master pages, page layouts and style sheets targeted to different groups of devices.  Imagine that we now get a different UX when accessing the system from a iPad or Galaxy tablet, another UX when using iPhone or Android phones, and yet another when using desktop.  Interesting side note: The preview version also has something called “Focus on content”, when toggled on it strips away the chrome of the left and top navigation and shows just the content.  Not sure how useful that will be in the long run, but it does expose a bit behind Microsoft’s thinking that it’s all about content.

Support for HTML5!  The new contemporary view will render in HTML5, allowing us access to all those goodies that come with it.  Assuming of course that the system is being accessed with IE9 (which comes with its own set of issues) Windows Phone 7.5, iPhone 4.0 and Android 4.0.  Nice to move away from compatibility and take advantage of modern browsers.

Authentication in SharePoint and the OData model!  For those of you familiar with Facebook, OAuth and OData are the way to go, and the preview comes with a new authenticator class that works with Windows Phone 7 users and support for ECMAScript that works with the Representational State Transfer (REST) services for those of us who don’t have WP7.

Location-aware apps!  There is a new native field type class SPFieldGeoLocation for integration location and map functionality.  Examples would be for companies with branches or stores to allow customers to quickly find the location that is closest to them on their mobile phone, no need to type in an address or ZIP.

And of course, for those of us who treat SharePoint like an application platform and are looking to build out a pure mobile site, the preview offers a Visual Studio template that will build out list applications for the Windows Phone.  Examples would be for things like to-do list, inventory, tasks that can be manipulated and updated from WP.

I like what I see so far, I can definitely see some synergies for writing content once and viewing it on multiple devices in a friendly and device oriented surface.

SharePoint 2013–Interesting features

SharePoint is now more social

Microsoft recently unveiled their 2013 preview, and has made some significant strides in adding social to its collaboration platform, specifically in the user profile department.  User profiles are now more social than ever, with the ability to post descriptions and add links to discussions and documents shared by the user.  You can also follow any object on SharePoint including lists, documents, libraries and even sites.

What is also interesting is that Microsoft has changed terminology for permissions.  It is now called “Sharing”, very similar to Google’s docs.

Speaking of taking the best of some third parties, Facebook and Twitter get a nod with the Community Site and Community Portal templates, with things like mentions (@) and hash tags (#) added to discussions.  This makes it easy to not only follow people but see what they are following and collaborate on a whole new level.

Clouds and Apps

Introduced in this version of SharePoint are Apps.  The new App store will be home to what Microsoft may be planning as the rival to iTunes and Google Play. What will probably give corporate Information Security nightmares will allow the user to be able to try an app and have it installed for that user (or companies can buy apps to be made available to all corporate users).  In many ways the apps replace the concept of features, and out of the box I noticed that what used to be called document libraries and other specialized lists are now called “apps”.

Whether running on-premise or in the cloud, there seems to be very little difference to the look and feel, another nod to Microsoft’s big push to move solutions towards the cloud in a big way.  I am reminded of Bill Gates’ speech from way back in 2008 at Stanford University:

Today, we’re still very device-centric, and we rely on the user to move information between their phones, and their phones and their PCs, and their PCs and their PCs. Well, as we get this sort of unlimited power in the cloud, both in terms of computation and storage, the ability to move that data automatically so that if you buy a new phone your information just shows up, if you borrow a PC your data is there but only available to you, that will become commonplace.

It’s all about data.  I believe that very slowly we’ll see an erosion of the personal computer and in many ways we’re moving back towards the paradigm of the mainframe.  Everything sits out in the cloud and is accessed through dumb-terminals and other devices.

Steve Ballmer said it best during his speech at University of Washington on March 4th, 2010:

"This is the bet for the company, for the cloud, we’re all in."

And I believe with this next version of SharePoint they’re quickly moving in that direction.  PC’s don’t look like they used to 10 years ago, neither do phones.  It’s no longer about they user experience siting at a desk running an application, but about using a device and accessing your data.

SharePoint 2013–Download Links for Everything You Need

SharePoint 2013 beta has been released, those of us not lucky to have been part of the Techical Preview have been chomping at the bit for this one… Finally something to play with for Summer!

Below are a plethora of links for your enjoyment, more to be added as they come to my attention.  Please feel free to add to the comments below if you find additional content worth noting.