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Monday, October 4, 2010

Set Up a SharePoint 2007 Development Environment

This blog will help you set up your own SharePoint 2007 development environment.

1. To develop solutions for SharePoint 2007 you will need to install your development tools directly onto the SharePoint server. Since having development tools installed directly to the server is generally not allowed in production or even test environments you will need to build a separate development environment. By using Virtual PC 2007, you can easy to create a virtual SharePoint environment that runs on an average workstation. For more information on creating your own virtual development environment please see the article here.

2. Once you have established your development environment you will need to install and configure several development tools. The following list the set of development tools I use and, if the tools are free, I also list a download location. (I will describe how to install and use these tools later in the article.)

a. Visual Studio 2008

b. SharePoint Server 2007 SDK – Download Here

c. Visual Studio 2008 extensions for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, v1.3 – Download Here

d. WSPBuilder – Download Here

e. Event Handler Manager – Download Here

f. Search Coder – Download Here

g. SP Log Viewer – Download Here

h. SharePoint Designer 2007 (Now a free tool!) – Download Here

i. Microsoft Visio 2007 – Visio is an optional tool, but given its usefulness for design diagrams I highly recommend it.

3. The first tool to install is Visual Studio 2008. I recommend installing the full MSDN Library with Visual Studio, it takes up a lot of additional space, but if this is your development environment there should be plenty of extra room on your hard drive. If you need help with the install there is a good Video Tutorial located here – Visual Studio Install Video. You will be prompted to choose your development environment, I choose “Visual C# Development Settings” but for SharePoint development you can also choose “Visual Basic Development Settings”. To establish that there are no issues with your Visual Studio install, and before proceeding with the rest of the steps, it’s a good idea to first create a throw away project, build it, run it, and check for configuration or install errors.

4. The next tool is the SharePoint Server 2007 SDK. The SharePoint Server 2007 SDK contains conceptual overviews, “How Do I…?” programming tasks, developer tools, code samples, references, and an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) starter kit to guide you in developing solutions based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. The install instructions are very simple and can be found on the same page you download the SDK from. Again, to validate that the install went well, it’s best to open Visual Studio, click on Help -> Search, search for content related to the SharePoint object model, and check for configuration or install errors.

5. Now we can install Visual Studio 2008 extensions for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 v1.3, or VSEWSS. VSEWSS provides SharePoint project and item templates for Visual Studio 2008. All things considered, the templates provided are limited, but for the most part they offer a better starting point then the out of the box Visual Studio templates. The install is very simple, and to test it I recommend that you open one or two templates, create a throw away project from it, and then check for configuration or install errors. The flowing templates are provided:

a. SharePoint Sequential Workflow

b. SharePoint State-Machine Workflow

c. Team Site Definition

d. List Definition

e. Blank Site Definition

f. Web Part

g. Empty

6. WSPBuilder is probably the best tool to become available for SharePoint development so far. WSP Builder is the invention of AnchorPoint who describes it as “A SharePoint Solution Package (WSP) creation tool for WSS 3.0 & MOSS 2007”. A more complete description is to say that WSP essentially takes the all the hard work out of creating WSP files and/or editing xml or ddf files manually. You can use WSP Builder to create the 12 “hive” structure and then add your features, web parts, receivers, etc. When you run WSPBuilder your code and artifacts get packaged into a solution file that can be passed to the SharePoint administrator for deployment. A great walk through of WSP Builder is provided by Tobias Zimmergren – you can view it here. WSP Builder is very easy to install, with Visual Studio closed, just run the MSI from your virtual environment, and once the install routine completes, open Visual Studio - WSP Builder will be installed.

7. Event Handler Manager is a special tool just for developing Event Handlers, but since most developers struggle with Event Handler debugging, this is a real must. Event Handler Manager allows the developer to browse, register and remove SharePoint event handlers. This application provides the ability to register event handlers to multiple lists at once as well as remove event handlers from multiple lists at once. This tool comes packaged as a Visual Studio project which you can then add to your project folders and run from Visual Studio.

8. Search Coder is another great tool, especially designed to help you write custom search web parts and solutions. Essentially, Search Coder allows you to connect to your SharePoint site and then try out different search queries using both the Object Model and Web Service. You can build, run and measure the performance of the query. To install just download the zip file, run install, and Search Coder will unpack to its own folder.

9. SP Log Viewer is an administrative tool not a development tool, but it is very useful to SharePoint developers. SP Log Viewer enables you to easily read and filter SharePoint log data from log files. If you have ever tried to extract useful information from the SharePoint log files you know this isn’t an easy process, and that is where SP Log Viewer can help. Again, the install is easy, just download the zip file, run the installer, and the utility will extract to its own folder.

10. SharePoint Designer (SPD) is an essential SharePoint development tools. It would take a separate article to describe everything SPD can do for the developer, but some of the main areas are site administration, trouble shooting, workflows, branding, Data View Web Part, XSL\XSLT, JavaScript and more. SharePoint Designer 2007 is now a free tool available from Microsoft, and there is an abundance of documentation available for it. The install is wizard driven and self explanatory.

11. Last but certainly not least is Microsoft Visio 2007 or 2010. In my opinion Visio is the best tool for designing SharePoint solutions and there are several great third party stencils available for SharePoint which you can purchase here. Once purchased the Visio install is wizard driven and self explanatory.

When it comes to SharePoint development, having the right tools is half the battle, armed with the tools I described in this article, you'll be well on your way to making great SharePoint 2007 solutions.

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