Sunday, October 28, 2012

SharePoint 2013: Start Developing Apps

SharePoint 2013 introduced new concept of ‘SharePoint apps’. Apart from Server Object Model, you can now user Client Object Model or REST API to develop SharePoint Apps. For developing apps, you don’t need to install SharePoint in your development pc. You can develop SharePoint apps in client Operating System like Windows 7or Windows 8. If you have not already started developing apps for SharePoint, this post might help you in getting started. To develop apps you need combination of two setups.
  • Development Environment: where you install visual studio for developing apps. For your information for developing SharePoint apps you don’t need a SharePoint server. You can develop apps in your windows 7/8 environment.
  • Deployment Environment: where you can run your apps for testing/debugging. Surely this will be a SharePoint system.

Based on the development and deployment environment integration, there are two ways you can setup your apps development environment:
On-Premises Development Environment

In this setup, you install the development and deployment in the same server. This is kind of manual process of setting up your SharePoint server to work as apps hosting server. I would not like to recommend you for this setup unless you have a specific reason. You can find more details on how to setup your on-premises development environment by following the MSDN link on ‘How to: Set up an on-premises development environment for apps for SharePoint’. The concept is shown below:
Figure 1: On-Premises setup

Basically in he on-premises setup, you develop your own SharePoint server and then prepare it for publishing hub for SharePoint apps. You will develop apps in your development pc and then deploy in the on-premises SharePoint server.


Office 365 based development Environment
In this setup the development environment is on-premises but the deployment environment is office 365. You can get your own deployment environment by signing up for office 365 developer site. You can find details on how to sign up for office 365 developer site from MSDN ‘Sign Up for an Office 365 Developer Site’. The concept of this environment is shown below:

Figure 2: Office 365 developer setup

In the Office 365 development environment setup, you will develop in your own pc and then deploy in Office 365 developer site to test/debug. Once you are done with your development and want to publish it, you can do so by publishing in the office app market.


Step by Step Instructions on Setting up Office 365 based Development Environment

You can find more details of how to setup the development environment from the link ‘Get Started developing apps for SharePoint’. But I’ve put the details below, in more precise steps:

Figure 3: Office 365 admin center
  • Step 4: Now you will be landed to the SharePoint developer site and from the site click the tile ‘Get tools to build apps’ as shown below:
Figure 4: SharePoint developer site in Office 365 preview
  • Step 5: On the details page install ‘Napa – office 365 developer tools’.
  • Step 6: Once installation is finished, click ‘Site contents’ from left side and then launch the app “Napa – office 365 developer tools’ by clicking as shown below:
Figure 5: Launch ‘Napa developer tools’ from Site contents
  • Step 7: Once the app launches, you can add the new SharePoint app project by clicking link’ Add New Project’ as shown below:
Figure 6: Napa apps – home page
  • Step 8: Once the project created you will be provided in-browser IDE like development environment. However you can lunch the project in Visual Studio by clicking the icon ‘Open in Visual Studio’ as shown below. This will install necessary tools to run the project.
Figure 7: Open in Visual studio link
Finally Microsoft Web Platform Installer will run and install every required components to run the app. After the installation is done, you can deploy your app in Office 365 developer site. Just run your app from visual Studio by pressing F5, which will install the app before running and as soon as you stop debugging, the app will be uninstalled.


Setting up on-premises development environment requires manual configuration and might be time consuming. But setting up Office 365 based development environment is much easier and you can get it ready within 15-30 minutes. So I would recommend you to go for this Office 365 based setup to start learning how to develop apps. Once you are confident with the apps development you can also try to setup on-premises development environment.

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