Sunday, 6 June 2010

Application Architecture in SharePoint 2010

Problem: I have a client that needs a composite built using 2010. The application is used to manage digital assets for suppliers. Key questions are where to store data and how to access the data.
Hypothesis: Where to store data, previously in MOSS I would of used SQL Server and accessed it via the BDC or custom web parts. In SP 2010 lists have been vastly improved and are now a good option for storing data. The new External Content Type can be used on SQL but goes beyond my requirement.
The key improvements to SharePoint lists are:

  1. Lookup lists are improved and easier to implement;
  2. Query joins and LINQ improve retrieving data;
  3. LINQ gives you strongly typed lists which using the old "Server Object Model" were weakly typed;
  4. LINQ querries are converted to CAML querries and therefore more performant than using the Server object model method and alot cleaner than using CAML to query data;
  5. Formula based validation on fields;
  6. Store level enforcement (MOSS enforce requirements such as null values only at the UI level);
  7. Improved referential integrity between lookup lists.
My choice was between using SQL Server to store the application data and SharePoint lists. SQL tables have the following key advanatages of they are more performant, and are transactionable. The easy of use and adavantages meant that SharePoint lists are the prefered option for storage.
Application for the suppliers and users also has several options however SharePoint provides most of the admin screens. The actual app can be built using application pages or web parts or the method i prefer, the client object model.

Accessing SharePoint Data options to consider are: Client Object Model (Weakly typed), however REST API's are Strongly typed for SP lists only. New in SP2010
Server Object Model (OM) is weakly type lists but offers the most flexibility. The Server OM existed on MOSS but is improved in SP2010. LINQ gives strongly type SP lists that can be read-write (new in SP2010)
Resolution:
Used SP lists to store the digital assets, the ordering data is also stored in SharePoint lists. For speed of development in the prototype I built using application pages using web parts that accessed the lists using LINQ to SharePoint. The final application will be built using the Client OM.

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