What is the SPFx and How It Could Work for You

If you’re familiar with SharePoint Online, you’ve likely used web parts to help build out your SharePoint sites and pages. The page templates, web parts, and style options you have access to are diverse and are usually sufficient for most page-building scenarios.

But what if you want something Microsoft doesn’t provide, such as additional functionality for an existing web part, or an entirely new kind of web part altogether? The SharePoint Framework Extension (SPFx) could make your vision a reality!

What Is the SharePoint Framework Extension (SPFx)?

The SPFx is a page and web part model that provides full support for client-side SharePoint development. This means you can write code to custom-build a web page or web parts for your SharePoint site. This can be extremely useful. Microsoft provides a huge amount of functionality out of the box; however, there will always be scenarios unaccounted for or features that didn’t make the cut. In those cases, it’s nice to be able to create something yourself using the SPFx.

What are the features of the SPFx?

The SPFx can be edited through any integrated development environment (IDE) and can use any JavaScript framework. The developer toolchain is based on popular open-source client development tools such as NPM, TypeScript, Yeoman, webpack, and gulp. More features can be found in the overview of the SPFx on Microsoft Docs.

What can you build with the SPFx?

You can build nearly anything you can think of with the SPFx!

An example that we have in our own environment is a web part connected to a SharePoint list we use for prospective clients. The web part has three components: a dropdown, which the end user uses to select a client; a list that displays all the relevant information connected to the selected client; and a button which, when clicked, copies all the information from the list to the user’s clipboard. This means they can paste it elsewhere to use for note-taking or other tasks. This idea is relatively simple in concept, and easily to put together, modify and maintain once built in the SPFx.

The above example is a custom method of displaying information. An alternative solution would be one that allows you to add to or modify the contents of a list, or a solution that changes aspects of style (e.g. for company branding purposes).

SPFx Resourcing

The caveat to utilizing solutions using the SPFx is that you’ll need someone with development experience to build, deploy, and maintain these solutions. This is where Microsoft specialists like Regroove fit in! In most cases, you would receive an estimate for how long it would take to build this solution (and in turn how much it would cost). Custom solutions can be expensive, but justifiable when you are left with something truly fit for use.

Conclusion

Building solutions with the SPFx usually isn’t the first option, as SharePoint is already providing huge (and increasing) amounts of functionality. However, in those cases where the functionality isn’t there or isn’t adequate out of the box, the SPFx has its chance to shine.

If you or your business are in need something built that SharePoint doesn’t already provide, please get in touch with Regroove and we might be able to help you out!

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