SharePoint 2013 Preview – Sandboxed Solutions: Dead or Not Dead?

In my previous post I referred to this MSDN article: Apps for SharePoint compared with SharePoint solutions, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj163114, which says that sandbox solutions are deprecated.

That is not the only article that contains the guidance. Build farm solutions in SharePoint 2013, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj163902(v=office.15).aspx, says the same thing.

What does ‘deprecated’ mean?

To summarize deprecated indicates that some new feature (the App model) supersedes an older feature (sandboxed solutions) and that the old feature still exists for backward compatibility but may be removed in some future release.

Controversy! Do they really mean it?

Over on Twitter and Yammer there is some lively discussion about whether or not Microsoft really means this and if they will change this text. A number of people who I respect maintain that the documentation is wrong and that they will change it.

I am positive they are mistaken. Here’s why.

One of the key reasons I wrote the SharePoint 2013 Preview – Apps or Crapps? post is that the day before I wrote it the Apps for SharePoint compared with SharePoint solutions article contained text that said sandboxed solutions are deprecated and that new ones are no longer supported on Office 365.

In spite of my well known disdain for sandboxed solutions, I have a number of complicated ones and that text really pissed me off alarmed me. In fact my first draft of the apps or crapps post contained a variety of colorful words and phrases with regards to my feelings.

The next day, when I sat down to finish the post there was a comment from Microsoft at the bottom of the page that said something like: "the text about sandboxed solutions is wrong, we will update this article soon."

I was happy to see that comment and I eagerly waited for the update. The text you see today contains the correction. It still says they are deprecated, but it no longer says they are no longer supported.

I can only conclude from this that the articles say exactly what Microsoft means for them to say.

Thank You SharePoint Team!

Regardless about how anyone feels about the new App model or the deprecation of sandboxed solutions, I think we should all be very grateful for the transparency. Other teams have recently created and allowed a great deal of ambiguity with regards to the future of certain development tools. They left the poor Silverlight developers flapping in the wind for months!

Regardless of the blowback they get from people unhappy about the decision, I think they have done right by us by being honest.

Should I Stop Developing Sandboxed Solutions?

If you are intending to target the Office 365 marketplace or adopt an in-house SP2013 marketplace you have no choice for those solutions. Everyone else does. Sandboxed solutions work exactly in SP2013 as they do in SP2010. I am unable to find any differences in terms of anything added or removed. The complete lack of new features alone convinces me they are completely serious about deprecation. My belief is that once people understand the App model they will gladly make the change from sandboxed to Apps. I plan to write more about why I believe this over the coming months.

Whether people should change from farm solutions to the App model is another question entirely. I have serious doubts, but I have not made up my mind about that yet.

–Doug

Author: Doug Ware