Development strategies

SharePoint is a very tantalizing piece of software; you can do so much from the web browser without having to touch anything as cryptic as Visual Studio. This ease of access doesn’t come without a price.

With a bit of training, your good old granny can create a site, add a whole bunch of lists, customize some views, and add a workflow or two all from the comfort of her web browser. For good measure, she uploads the complete works of Barbara Cartland and here knitting patterns. After some time it becomes apparent that she needs a background job to analyze the correlation of colors across knitting patters. You being her favorite grandson and a “SharePoint developer” are asked to help out poor old granny. When you stare at her in disbelief and start talking about cross environment testing, she just gives you a blank stare and says “Be a good boy and do as your grandmother tells”.

If you start your development using the web browser, you will at some point hit a brick wall. There is a band aid called SharePoint Designer that may help you out for a while, but at some point you will find yourself in territory where only Visual Studio is the solution. The moment Visual Studio is put on the table, testing becomes a concern as well. In order to test something, it has to be reproducible across multiple environments. Taking something created in one environment and moving it to another may not be a trivial matter. If we replaced Barbara Cartland’s complete works with diplomatic correspondence, you would get arrested for moving information around.

For any serious SharePoint development, there is only one answer: Visual Studio.

  • Version control all your files
  • Everything that is possible to do is actually possible; no more hitting brick walls.
  • Your customizations can easily be packaged up and deployed across as many environments as you desire.

Version control should not be underestimated. If you ever get into a dispute, a lot could be resolved by deploying the latest version to a clean environment and see what works there.

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