I agree with Jan - the OFF205 Office Developer 101 - How to get started building Office 2007 solutions was a great session. We got to see two great tools that help developers building solutions on 2007 Office System :
- Visual Studio Tools for Office 2005 Second Edition - presented by Joanna Bichsel . Take a look at the VSTO 2005 SE homepage for some more info and there also is a VSTO video on the TechEd VirtualSide
- Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (or VSEWSS) -presented by Alexander Malek
These are two tools which will make life a lot easier - but the development scenario shown for VSEWSS was according to me the most compelling one.
If you want to create a quick solution for WSS 3.0 you would typically start by customizing the site through the user interface in your browser (Add some webparts, add some custom lists, etc ...) afterwards you could open up SharePoint Designer and start customizing the site even further. You can for example start modifying the stylesheet of your WSS 3.0 site to change the look&feel- it is now called core.css, in WSS 2.0 it was ows.css. The problem is that once you start modifying your site with SharePoint Designer (SPD) - the content is moved into the database (this concept was called ghosting and unghosting in SPS2003) - you notice this when you customise a ASP.NET page in SPD and save it a little blue icon appears next to it. (BTW they are now calling it customized and uncustomized pages)
But at a certain point you will need to do some development work on top of all the modifications you have now done. Well, previously you were just stuck ... bummer.
Now with VSEWSS you can simply use the SharePoint Solution Generator and extract all of the modifications you made and add it to a Site Definition project. In this project you will get your modified stylesheet, all the necessary XML files (ONET.XML, SCHEMA.XML, ...) and the ASPX pages (for all of the list forms and the default one). Starting from here you can further work with it and add your own extra list definitions, web parts, etc ...
One of the things which is extremely cool here is the F5 run/debug option (will work only locally - so you will have to develop on the server). This does not only works with web parts but also when you create a new site defintion. So, create your project, hit F5 and everything will be build and deployed to SharePoint for you (behind the scenes it is using all the magic from the post-build steps in VS2005). It even creates a SharePoint Solution Package (WSP file) for you (A solution is a deployable, reusable package that can contain a set of features and site definitions, templates, Web Parts, and assemblies that you can apply to a site, and individually enable or disable - see Solutions and Web Part Packages )
PS If you write about Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for WSS add the VSEWSS technorati tag ... it makes it easy to track all posts about this subject. Nick, too bad you aren't here
PS2 If you have questions or need support, use the microsoft.public.sharepoint.development_and_programming newsgroup.