Microsoft SharePoint has grown into a collection of servers and technologies for collaboration, process management, search, document-management, as well as portal type functionality. And as use of SharePoint has grown within enterprises and organizations, so have the requests for ColdFusion SharePoint integration. Indeed, some of the biggest ColdFusion deployments on the planet have asked for just that, which is why I posted an entry a while back soliciting input and feedback on the subject. (And yes, the responses to that post were all read and reviewed by the ColdFusion team, so those of you that weighed in actively helped to define the solution, thanks!).
The big challenge we faced with SharePoint integration was understanding what exactly users wanted. What we didn't want was to release a feature only to find that it does not solve most problems for most users (we've done this before, and it's no fun at all). And each time we asked for specifics we got slightly different answers. But, thanks to lots of research, we were able to come up with a list of features that seem to address most user needs, and the following is what is planned for ColdFusion 9.
- The most common request is for single-sign-on (SSO) support, so that ColdFusion applications running under SharePoint can leverage SharePoint authentication and security, removing the need for logins and authentication in ColdFusion applications themselves. In ColdFusion 9 this is accomplished via SharePoint integration files included with ColdFusion (a WSP file and a supporting CAB file). With these files installed and configured, SharePoint can pass credentials to invoked ColdFusion applications providing SSO support.
- So, what do I mean by "ColdFusion applications running under SharePoint"? One way to build SharePoint applications is by using Web Parts, ASP.NET server controls, to build Web Part Pages. Web Parts may be pre-written Microsoft provided controls, 3rd party controls, or your own controls. And in ColdFusion 9, Web Parts can be ColdFusion applications, too. Combine that with the SSO support just mentioned, and you have the building blocks for solid ColdFusion SharePoint integration.
But what if you just want to be able to access data in SharePoint? What if you don't need your application running as a Web Part, you just want to take advantage of SharePoint user lists and views and groups, or to work with SharePoint stored images and document workspaces, or use SharePoint search? Some of this is already doable via SharePoint exposed Web Services, but for increased control and performance we've added a new
tag that accesses exposed SharePoint features directly. This is a huge, powerful and sophisticated tag. And I do mean huge, it supports close to 50 actions and hundreds of possible attributes and parameters (depending on the operation being performed, most actions take just a few parameters).
Between these three options, SSO, ColdFusion applications as Web Parts, and access to SharePoint services via