Developer Tools for SharePoint 2013 : Setting Up Your Development Environment

9/26/2013 4:14:43 AM

There are many options for SharePoint development with the changes to SharePoint and Office 2013. With all these changes, understanding what you are trying to develop and the components needed to be set up is critical. The two most common development environments are the Office 365 solutions or the On Premises solutions. The new app model makes it easier to create development environments and has fewer dependencies than previous versions of SharePoint. This change also brings back a restriction that all classic development for SharePoint Solutions must be done on a server OS. In addition to setting up a local development environment, Microsoft has provided a full set of development tools for apps that are hosted on the web for quick development.

Applications for SharePoint and Office 365 Development Environment

The steps to create an environment to develop apps are simple in SharePoint 2013. Microsoft has recommended that app developers sign up for an Office 365 Developer Site to help with development and debugging. These sites are already configured with the required app isolation and OAuth that would be required to set up in a local SharePoint deployment. Also you get the full deployment experience from Visual Studio, and you can deploy only to the Developer Site. As discussed earlier all you need to do is install Visual Studio on any support operating system for Visual Studio that includes Windows 7. After Visual Studio is installed, you install the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio, which includes the following necessary developer components:

  • Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 — Preview
  • SharePoint Client Components (containing the client assemblies)
  • Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) SDK
  • Workflow Tools SDK and Workflow Client SDK
  • Windows Identity Foundation SDK and Windows Identity Foundation Extensions

Napa Office 365 Development Tools

The Napa Office 365 Development Tools are a set of tools provided with Office 365 that enable apps developers to start quickly without installing any tools locally. To develop apps you can use the full code editor with syntax highlighting that is provided in the browser. To get this tool you must sign up for an Office 365 account and create a developer site that enables you access the tools. If at any time you want to continue to edit your solution in Visual Studio, there is a button to open your project in Visual Studio. This is a straightforward way to create your apps, as shown in Figure 1.



When you have an Office 365 account, you can access the editor directly from the URL

Local Development Environment

The local SharePoint development environment maps to the traditional SharePoint environment that current developers of SharePoint are accustomed to. This environment requires that you install SharePoint 2013 locally on a Windows Server 2008 x64-bit server to begin development. The major change is that you cannot perform the installation of SharePoint 2013 on a Windows 7 operating system and therefore cannot do classic SharePoint development on these system configurations.

System Requirements

The system requirements for a machine required for local development are not as large as a production environment, but you should be aware of a couple key requirements when setting up your development workstation. Because SharePoint 2013 has only x64-bit installations, your development machine also needs to be an x64-bit machine. The current recommendation is that the machine has at least 6 GB of RAM to install and run SharePoint 2013. This is less than the single server instance of the production hardware, and you should optimize the development environment when working with less memory.

Virtual or Physical?

This local development environment can be installed either on virtual or physical hardware depending on what systems are available and your budget. Installing SharePoint virtually or physically on your machine is usually a tough decision. Many times, the answer depends on the operating system you want to run on your guest OS and also whether you want to trade off performance for flexibility. Now step through each issue in a little more detail.

For the host OS, if you don’t mind using Windows Server 2008 as your primary operating system, you will have many options for installing SharePoint (whether that’s physical or virtual) because Windows Server 2008 supports Hyper-V. When you know the hardware and software, you can decide whether you want a physical or virtual environment. The advantages of Hyper-V for a developer are that you can have an isolated development environment that can be copied or moved to another location.

NOTE To install a local development environment using Hyper-V, your hardware must support Hyper-V.

If you want to run on a desktop operating system such as Windows 7, your choices are more limited because these desktop operating systems don’t support Hyper-V. This means that if you want to virtualize, you need to use another product such as VMWare or Virtual Box because Virtual PC and Virtual Server don’t support x64-bit.

When you have the right virtualization technology for your host OS, the question becomes whether to virtualize. Virtualization provides a lot of nice features, such as portability, ability to roll back changes, different environments on a single host OS, and so forth. With all these positives to virtualization, there is also a negative with the cost of performance. Of course, this performance cost has decreased over the years with improvements to software and hardware changes. The reason for the performance impact is that you need to give the guest OS and SharePoint a few GBs of memory, and you definitely need a fast hard drive, preferably 7200 RPM and above. If you have the necessary hardware and you’re developing solutions, the first choice should be virtualization. One last option that developers have started to look at is the dual-boot system with the Windows 7 dual-boot capabilities. This is sometimes not an option for larger organizations due to adding machines to a domain ad hoc but can be a quick way to evaluate a machine or use the full hardware.

NOTE Many scripts and deployment guides will be released as the product releases. For a full guide, check out the SharePoint Server 2013 Preview Virtual Machine Setup Guide (v0.5) in the free members section at

SQL Server Version

SharePoint 2013 supports SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2012. If you select the stand-alone option when installing the product, SharePoint installs SQL Server 2008 RS Express with SP1. Although this option installs the product quickly, you might run into issues with development if you try to access the database through Visual Studio. A good alternative would be if you have an MSDN subscription, you should use the SQL Server Developer Edition for a full set of features that you can develop with.

  •  Developer Tools for SharePoint 2013 : Understanding Visual Studio 2012 Tools (part 3) - SharePoint Solutions
  •  Developer Tools for SharePoint 2013 : Understanding Visual Studio 2012 Tools (part 2) - Applications for SharePoint
  •  Developer Tools for SharePoint 2013 : Understanding Visual Studio 2012 Tools (part 1) - SharePoint Connections in Server Explorer
  •  Developer Tools for SharePoint 2013 : Understanding SharePoint Designer 2013
  •  Developer Tools for SharePoint 2013 : Customization Options with SharePoint , OOB Developer Experience
  •  Sharepoint 2013 : Understanding Your Development Options (part 5) - Creating ASPX Pages, Creating Master Pages
  •  Sharepoint 2013 : Understanding Your Development Options (part 4) - Working with SharePoint Data, Creating Event Receivers
  •  Sharepoint 2013 : Understanding Your Development Options (part 3) - Creating SharePoint-Hosted Apps
  •  Sharepoint 2013 : Understanding Your Development Options (part 2) - Creating Web Parts - Visual Web Parts
  •  Sharepoint 2013 : Understanding Your Development Options (part 1) - Application and Solution Types
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