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Review of tools and processes

SharePoint 2007

Updated: August 14, 2008

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

Updated: 2008-08-14

In this article:

Designing and building sites for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 requires a combination of processes using many tools in different environments by several people on the design and development team. The processes used to design and build sites include:

  • Software development

  • Software configuration management

  • Integration and testing

  • Web page and Web site design and customization

  • Solutions packaging and deployment

  • Content authoring and deployment

Each of these processes requires one or more tools that can be supplemented by a number of optional tools. The most common tools used to design and build sites are:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 for development

  • Visual Studio Team System for source control and software configuration management

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0

  • The software development kits (SDK) for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, including the Content Migration APIs

  • Office SharePoint Server 2007

  • Microsoft Best Practices Analyzer for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and the 2007 Microsoft Office system

  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007

  • Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Tools: Visual Studio 2005 Extensions Solution Generator

  • Stsadm command-line tool

  • 2007 Office system client applications, specifically those used for authoring

  • Supported browsers including Microsoft Internet Explorer, used to access Office SharePoint Server 2007

  • The content deployment features in Office SharePoint Server 2007

Using software development and configuration management tools

The most common software development tool for developing custom code and Web Parts to use in sites for Office SharePoint Server 2007 is the Microsoft Visual Studio development system.

Visual Studio 2008 includes the following applications relevant to creating and managing developed site elements for SharePoint sites:

Visual Studio 2005 includes the following applications relevant to creating and managing developed site elements for SharePoint sites:

Another important tool for developing Web Parts is as follows:

  • The Microsoft .NET Framework version 3.0 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=106463&clcid=0x409)

  • The software development kits for Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 provide guidance in developing custom solutions, including sample Web Parts and applications. The software development kit for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 also includes the Content Migration APIs, which are used during content deployment.

Other tools that are useful for software development include:

The process of source control and software configuration management is closely related to software development. In some scenarios for designing and building sites for Office SharePoint Server 2007, it occurs in the same environment as software development.

The most common software configuration management and source control tools for Office SharePoint Server 2007 are Visual Studio Team System 2008 and Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Visual SourceSafe 2005 is used less frequently.

Using integration and testing tools

The integration environment for Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites includes one or more farms that are running Office SharePoint Server 2007. Other tools useful during integration include applications specifically designed for testing Web pages and Web Parts. Common tools used during integration and testing include:

After successful integration testing, the integration farm administrator or software configuration management administrator deploys developed site elements as solution packages to the authoring environment, the pilot environment, and the production environment. In a few exceptional developer-centric scenarios, much of this deployment is automated by using scripts in a process managed by the source control servers in the software configuration management environment. For more information about solutions deployment, see the Using solutions packaging and deployment tools section in this article.

Using site design and customization tools

Designers create custom artifacts, such as master pages, layouts, and cascading style sheets. The primary tools for artifact customization are:

  • A supported Web browser that is used with Office SharePoint Server 2007

  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007

In the author-centric approach, designers customize artifacts in the authoring environment. A farm administrator in the environment uses the content deployment features to export artifacts and authored content to the pilot environment.

In the developer-centric approach, designers customize artifacts by using authoring workstations within the development environment.

Office SharePoint Designer 2007 is supplemented by the use of supported browsers and client authoring tools, most commonly the 2007 Office system client applications that enable you to convert files to Web pages before customization.

Examples of master pages and templates that can be used during site customization include:

Using solutions packaging and deployment tools

As described in the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SDK, a solution is a deployable, reusable package that can contain a set of features, site definitions, and assemblies that you can apply to a site, and can also enable or disable individually. You can use the solution file to deploy the contents of a Web Part package, including assemblies, class resources, Web Part definition (.dwp) files, and other package components. You can also include authored artifacts in a solutions package.

The Windows SharePoint Services solution framework can be used to package developed site elements as a solution file. A solution file is a cabinet or .CAB-based file with a .wsp extension.

Several tools are available for creating solutions packages. The most commonly used tool is the SharePoint Solution Generator, which is part of the Visual Studio 2005 Extensions. Selected third-party tools for creating solutions packs include:

These tools work similarly by generating a site definition project from an existing SharePoint site. Developers and designers can open sites in a supported browser, generate the site definition project, and make modifications by using Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Visual Studio 2005.

For simple solutions or at the preference of the developer, the MakeCAB command-line tool can be used to modify a cabinet file, which can then be renamed as a solution with a .wsp extension. However, most developers prefer to use the richer and more automated solutions pack generator tools.

After solutions files have been created, the primary tool administrators use for deploying solutions is the Stsadm command-line tool. This tool can be used alone or along with the Content Migration APIs, which are provided as part of the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SDK. The Stsadm command-line tools is also used to import and export content with the Content Migration APIs. For more information, see Content Migration Overview (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=106472&clcid=0x409).

If you include artifacts in a solutions package, keep in mind the following:

  • You should group related master pages, layout pages, and cascading style sheets into features that can be enabled and disabled by administrators.

  • When a solution package that contains a set of artifacts is deployed, the artifacts are deployed to the file system of each front-end Web server and a set of placeholders are added in the farm's database that link to each artifact on the front end servers. Putting the artifacts on the front-end Web servers improves farm performance.

  • If a designer customizes an artifact after it has been deployed to the front-end Web servers (such as by editing it in Office SharePoint Designer 2007), the placeholder link in the database that points to the artifact is replaced in the database by the actual customized artifact.

  • There is no way for site designers and authors to tell whether the artifact they see listed in a gallery or library exists in the database or on the front-end Web servers.

Using content authoring and deployment tools

Authors can create content in the authoring environment by using many different tools and applications. The most common applications and tools for authoring content include:

  • 2007 Office system client applications, specifically those used for authoring

  • Office SharePoint Server 2007 running in Internet Explorer and other supported browsers

Authors can then use the document management and enterprise content management functionality of Office SharePoint Server 2007 to upload, approve, and publish content on a farm in the authoring environment. In an author-centric approach, this includes both content pages such as articles and artifacts. In a developer-centric approach, artifacts are created and deployed as solutions within the development environment, and the content deployment features are not used.

Content that has been approved in the authoring environment is deployed by a farm administrator to the pilot environment for testing under network and security conditions that match those of the production environment. After testing, a farm administrator in the pilot environment deploys content and artifacts to the production environment.

The content deployment features are primarily used for deploying content to the production server. Each farm can deploy content to a single destination that must maintain connectivity with the source farm. The Content Migration APIs can also be used to deploy content, and must be used in disconnected deployments. Both tools are documented in the SDK for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

Download this book

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable books for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

See Also

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