News that Microsoft retires AppFabric came out first time in 2015. As of today official mainstream support of AppFabric is over, however extended support is still available until 2022. It creates a problem for solutions that require caching to work, to be deployed or to be developed. As this directly affects our product for SharePoint 2013/2016 – Information Worker, we decided to share some information on the topic of AppFabric retirement.
What is AppFabric 1.1?
AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server provides hosting, management and caching capabilities for Web applications and middle-tier services. This tool makes it easier to build, scale and manage applications, in particular those built using ASP.NET, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).
End of support of AppFabric 1.1
On April 2, 2015, Microsoft announced that it retires AppFabric and the end of support for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server is April 2, 2016. The community was very vocal about a short notice and demanded to release AppFabric as an open source or at least to extend the support. Microsoft reacted by extending Mainstream Support until 4/11/2017 and Extended Support until 4/12/2022.
How does it affect SharePoint and PDF Share Forms?
Windows Server uses AppFabric in many ways. But we are mostly interested in caching for SharePoint. As far as PDF Share Forms concerned – When Information Worker is installed it uses default SharePoint caching application – AppFabric Cache. Microsoft suggests using alternative caching solution for new applications that require application cache. Although we support AppFabric, we are making an effort to include Redis cache in our product installer in future releases. We believe Redis provides better stability and platform for continues development of PDF Share Forms products.
What is PDF Share Forms Information Worker?
PDF Share Forms Information Worker enables PDF form integration to SharePoint 2013 and 2016. It is one of best products of its class that allows deploying existing PDF forms as content types in SharePoint document libraries and automatically extract data from submitted forms.
Information Worker leverages the best of SharePoint and PDF. It supports bi-directional PDF form field mapping to SharePoint columns, integrates with Business Connectivity Services, supports digital signatures and workflow solutions, and supports external SharePoint data.
Being a PDF-based solution it works both online and offline supporting most mobile devices and providing consistent users experience across all devices.
How is Redis better/different than AppFabric?
AppFabric contains a number of technologies including Service Bus, Access Control Service, and Caching. But in our case caching is the only relevant feature here.
From a caching perspective AppFabric is focused on .Net. But Redis as an Open Source NoSQL database store is usable by a broader set of technologies including Python, Ruby, Java, PHP, Node, C, C#.
Redis keys can store data structures like strings, hashes, lists, sets, sorted sets, bitmaps, and hyperloglogs, it is generally more flexible than other caching solutions.
Microsoft, previously infamous for being a strong proponent of proprietary products, has come a long way in accepting open source technology. Supporting Docker, Redis and becoming a Platinum sponsor of Linux foundation would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. Some of these open source technologies are best in the business and that is why we are working on including MS build of Redis cache in PDF Share Forms Information Worker.
AppFabric caching solution is still available and supported through 2022. However, Microsoft recommends using alternative solutions and primarily suggest Redis cache.
PDF Share Forms allows manual installation of Redis for Information Worker product. We are also planning to incorporate Redis in installation files in future releases.
For more information on manual installation of Redis check our knowledge base article on Caching providers