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I wrote recently of being tasked with the setting up of a SharePoint Development Environment (henceforth known as an SDE). Please refer to that blog post for some good links on this topic by other bloggers. I make no claim to expertise in this area since not even the experts can agree ;-) However, I did manage to successfully create my own SDE over the weekend and I am near to completing my original task of creating a VM that can be distributed among a team of developers and joined to a domain.

Microsoft recommends developing locally using virtual machines. For SharePoint development, one has to develop on the Windows Server O/S. The only practical way to do this locally is to install Windows Server 2003 on a virtual machine. This allows the developer to work independently and compile, test and debug as normal.

Shopping List:

  * Plentiful Dry Martini and Olives
  * Cheap External Drive - USB 2.0
  * Free Windows Server 2003 Standard SP1
  * Free trial - VMWare Workstation 6
  * Free trial - vOptimizer
  * Free 6 Month Trial - Visual Studio 2005 Standard (Professional for Office work)
  * Free 6 Month Trial - SQL Server 2005 (Express won't cut it)
  * Free Trial - Office 2007
  * Free Trial - SharePoint Designer (FrontPage on steroids - put it on your host PC)

I chose VMWare because it is much faster that Virtual PC and has a much better interface. Although it costs $189, I plan on purchasing my own copy to play around with Orcas, Silverlight, etc. We need our toys. If you have an MSDN subscription, then you're laughing. If not, then follow my budget download list above (ok, leave out the Martini). The list above is intended for the developer learning the SharePoint object model on a standalone machine. The MOSS install will be the "Complete" option; that is to say that everything will be part of a small virtual farm with a full version of SQL Server 2005.

I have slipped, stumbled and fell many times trying to piece this mish-mash of a development platform together. Over the coming posts I will try to highlight the steps I took to create a champagne VM on a beer budget and some of the pitfalls I encountered along the way. The next post will outline the VM strategy. Stay tuned!

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I've recently been assigned the task of setting up and documenting the SharePoint development environment. If you were dismayed by the vagaries of the installation process, you've seen nothing yet. Although SharePoint is built upon ASP.NET, this is an Office product. The Office team have always been the cash cow of Microsoft. Apparently, their priority was to make this product user friendly. And if your company is so large as to have thousands of sites, I can see no better choice than SharePoint. It really scales better than anything out there.

For smaller companies with in-house development teams, there is still a huge hole in this market and it will be filled by someone. Very few users will get to see how "friendly" it is if the IT people determine that it's too much of a pain to develop on. Not only that, but very few IT teams have the expertise required to do this properly anyway. Training in this area has been pretty non-existent up to recently. Some months back, I attended a MOSS boot camp which was one of the very first in the United States. It focused only on the installation and administration of SharePoint. If you are a developer like myself, then for the most part, you are pretty much on your own.


The Bottom Line:

  * You have to develop locally for debugging and testing
  * You need SharePoint/WSS on your local machine
  * SharePoint/WSS needs Windows Server 2003 SP1 to run
  * You need to use virtual machine(s) locally to host Windows Server 2003
  * You may need to bump up RAM (4 Gb) and possibly add a fast external drive
  * TFS support will not be available until the Orcas release


Everything You Need to Know:

  * Use Virtual PC Differencing Disks to your Advantage
  * MOSS 2007 Development - Virtual Server Set Up
  * Team-Based Development in MOSS
  * Development Tools and Techniques for Working with Code in WSS 3.0
  * How to Create a MOSS 2007 VPC Image - the Whole 9 Yards



I will be implementing the development environment myself and will report back on the outcome. I am going to set up initially with Virtual PC VHDs and difference files on a test machine and work from there. Eventually, I will deploy to a staging server which will be an exact duplicate of the live server. As for source control, I will have to wait until the Orcas release and start all over again. There is a TFS Beta 1 available for those who are interested. Note that you can still save your Web Parts in the current version of TFS. There are hacks to getting the current version of TFS to work with MOSS solutions but it's supposed to be so involved as to not warrant the time spent on it. Also, some people are saying that VMWare is faster that Virtual PC (Virtual Server if you have the license) but I am trying to get some benchmarks to support this. I can't wait to actually sit down and build something!