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I have been asked to create a sandboxed sharepoint application/site, multiple developers will be working on this. All the team members are .Net developers. Which is the best/maintainable/professional approach?

Approach 1 - Create pages,lists,workflows etc in sharepoint and sharepoint designer. Then export the wsp file and import it into visual studio. e.g. do most of the work in the sharepoint ui

Approach 2 - Build it up using visual studio e.g. modules,elements,feature receivers

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3 Answers 3

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Why not use both to get a much more flexible solution?

Approach 1: You can take pages, lists and workflows from it.. If your requirement is fulfilled by simple List Forms and Workflows why to get into coding solution? As this is for the SharePoint is made for, to make your life easy!

Approach 2: If during list forms and SharePoint Designer, you feel you can't get it done using OOB... Then you can shift to code and add some of the features as Visual Web Parts or Event Receivers or Timer Jobs maybe!

We usually use both of them together... As per deployment is concerned you can read this question:
Using solutions and features in creation/branding of SharePoint websites

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Approach 1 - This is actually listed as bad practice. While a quick way of achieving results, designer adds a lot of unneeded mark-up into the solution.

Approach 2 - This in my book will always be the better solution. You have more control, Source control, Better structure and flexibility with visual studio than you would any designer based project. This also means your team can stay within their remit of .net.

Go with Approach 2 every time.

Source: Branding - Custom master page SharePoint Online

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sorry to bother... but can you give a proper reference which says using Custom Lists and SharePoint Designer Workflows is considered "Bad Practice"? –  Arsalan Adam Khatri Nov 22 '12 at 14:36
    
It's in the training videos for SharePoint branding on Channel 9. I think it's this video (Good watch regardless for you) It's about 50~60 seconds in that slide under bad practices. channel9.msdn.com/Series/Office-365-Developer-Training-Kit-Labs/… –  Hugh Wood Nov 22 '12 at 14:45
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The video is "Branding with Custom Master Pages" and we are talking about complete SharePoint based solution here and not just branding... Its really a HARD statement when you say "BAD PRACTICE", you should be careful using such statements :)... AFAIK, nothing can replace SharePoint Designer Workflows, Custom Lists, List Forms [if they complete your need].. No harsh feelings bro! :) –  Arsalan Adam Khatri Nov 22 '12 at 14:50
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Your solution will be filled with all kinds of stuff from Designer if you import it to VS. Don't try to import WSP's to VS. Or, try it quickly and you know what I mean as soon as you look at the solution you get. :) –  Jussi Palo Nov 22 '12 at 15:01
    
In all videos that mention features such as this where code generation is concerned the same statement is made. Event handling and feature stapling and webparts MORE than replace workflows if used correctly. Workflows in 2010 are a nuisance for quick solutions. 2013 they are a million times better and the Visual Studio integration is brilliant. Custom lists and list forms are also better done in Visual Studio as it gives you more control. Jussi Palo has the hit the nail on the head and is why it IS bad practice. –  Hugh Wood Nov 22 '12 at 15:02

Here's an answer to a very similar question, listing pros and cons of SharePoint Designer VS Visual Studio approaches:

To code or not to code?

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