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jPoint will be how I will start giving back to the Sharepoint Community October 13, 2009

Posted by willhlaw in Gov 2.0, jPoint.
Tags: , , , , ,

I have been working with SharePoint for 5 years in the Federal space in Washington, DC. I have never blogged publicly or gotten involved in social networking online due to the sensitive nature of my work and the environment. Instead, I just soaked in and absorbed all of the excellent blog articles and comment threads. Essentially I was a leach; taking but never giving.

Over the years, I would have loved to have shared my discoveries in Sharepoint Designer, or Infopath, or even how to obtain SSP (single shared password) with FBA using a primary and secondary LDAP (secondary is Sharepoint’s AD and my expertise in this area is thanks to Chris Mathers and the fine people over at Planet Technologies. And now it has been almost 3 years since a federal client demonized a fellow developer for requesting help on writing on an Adobe forum asking about how to create PDFs with PL/SQL.

I feel it is time to get out of my shell.

I am going to start talking about any worthwhile discoveries or interesting finds I come across. In the short term, you are probably going to hear me talk a lot about the open source project that I am helping to create and grow. It is called jPoint and it is hosted on Codeplex at http://jPoint.codeplex.com. Extra documentation and examples are also found on the same site as this blog at http://www.sharejPoint.com. Over a year ago, actually, let me look it up, yes, here it is. I saw that jQuery was going to be the javascript library of choice for my Sharepoint development team. I was excited to see a few months later my choice sort of validated by Microsoft. My team and I have written many compelling scripts since and the solutions continue to build on top each other.

jPoint is going to be true blue open source. Free as in freedom. I do not have a company behind this project. Well, not yet. I am thinking about creating a non-profit (possibly called sharejPoint.org) to manage the project, expenses, and to be able to accept donations. I would eventually like to take a similar route to jQuery and allow the Software Freedom Conservancy to own the project and ensure protection, 501(c)(3) status, and its longevity. I would like to consolidate a lot of the “in the wild” scripts and all of the developer talent out there in order to concentrate on creating a de facto client side javascript library for Sharepoint. I know. I know. This will be tough. Impossible. “Good luck, kid”, I hear you saying. Well, I am going to give it a shot. I have energy, brains, and a love for Sharepoint. I also have a tremendously talented team that I have worked with for several years that are also dedicated to the project. And if my two buddies created the widget company, Clearspring, I figure I can start an open source project that delivers free solutions to end users without the pain of server installs, licenses, or the need to have a developer deploy or configure.

Yes, jPoint has a novel way to deploy script solutions so that a power user (a user with Manage Lists permissions), can change the configuration of the script through a wizard. Here is a very simple example. The jPoint team has taken the Chatterbox solution that required AJAX.NET and a server deployment and jPoint-ified it. The jPartChatBox is a purely client-side solution using the jPoint library (which also leverages jQuery). To see the example live, click here. But you will have to login to submit your own chat and to see the yellow edit screen. The login credentials are listed on the Home page and the Examples page.

And here is the configuration “wizard” that you see after clicking the Edit button.

All a power user needs to do is make some changes, for instance, change the List that the ChatBox points to and click Update. The page refreshes and the new changes are in effect. And by the way, if you are thinking that this yellow edit view and configuration wizard looks awful and has a long way to go to match Bamboo Solution’s or Coraswork’s wizards, here is the catch. jPoint is an API and a deployment framework. For now, it is up to each individual or third party developer to make their configuration wizard look pretty. And of course, through time and once we solidify the core and hopefully attract more contributors, we can certainly integrate the best practices for setting up the configuration wizard and bring that into the core. Similar to how jQuery has pulled in certain critical plugins into its core.

Well, that is it for now. I encourage everyone who wants to get involved write me a comment or follow me on twitter @willhlaw. If you are not interested in jPoint, stick around. I will have some good posts that are not jPoint related.



1. rmmmbad - October 13, 2009

Alright, glad that you are starting to blog. Look forward to your posts and hearing more about jPoint.

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