Connect 2015

In case you missed it, last week in New York Microsoft hosted their Connect 2015 event for the Developer network. In the wake of Future Decoded where a number of new announcements were made (visit our social hub for all the updates), Connect 2015 had its own share of announcements and the one we found most exciting concerned Visual Studio Code Extensions. We were fortunate that we were given the opportunity to take part in the extension SDK build phase, before the announcement was formally made to the public.

SPTools (created by our very own Mike Martinetti) is a Visual Studio Code extension allowing developers to work on remote SharePoint sites.

The initial idea is to replace SharePoint Designer for the most common tasks, including the ability to open and edit files, check out or check in files or discarding a checkout on files, while adding bonus features like workspaces management, consistent credentials cache and cross platform compatibility.

Here are three examples of how using the new Extension feature differs and improves the coding experience:

1. SharePoint Workspace

You can create a new SharePoint Workspace (which is just a local copy of specific folders that you can specify in your extension settings) from SharePoint that will be bound to the remote site. You will then be able to open those files, edit them and upload the new versions being able to handle all of the file versioning process from SP in the meantime.

Create a new SharePoint workspace command:

Open created workspace and check out a file:

Upload a modified file, checking it in during the process:

2. Source Control

Visual Studio Code has GIT built in, this means that creating a SharePoint Workspace with SPTools allows your code to be put in source control in a few ridiculously easy steps:

Once your SharePoint Workspace is created using the command SPTools – New workspace, click on ‘Initialize git repository’ in the GIT tab:

All your changes will now be able to be pushed, pulled and committed on a local GIT repository. Linking this repository to your remote branch is now a few commands away, allowing your team to work together using the powerful GIT features. We particularly like the ability to merge conflicts while working on the remote site without changing our code editor or even the workspace.

3. Cross Platform Compatibility

Thought you could only use Windows and SharePoint Designer to work with SharePoint? Nope. Because the Code Extension Framework relies on NodeJS only, SPTools has got everything ready to work across any platform, including Windows, OSX and *nix machines.

So, where can I get the extension?

You can get the extension directly from the Extension Gallery within Visual Studio Code, by typing ‘extension install’ in the command palette, then look for SPTools.

You can also consult the extension page in Visual Studio Market Place here, where you will find details on how to install and use it.

Finally, for any issue or questions, see the extension Github page or contact us directly.

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