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We will be doing a new Intranet for our SharePoint Online. I have experience developing in SharePoint 2010 / 2013 but using Farm Solutions. In SharePoint Online, I believe the only options are App and Sandbox Solution, but I read that Sandbox solutions will soon be deprecated.

Is it possible to do an Intranet Deployment using the App Model? For the context, we would likely be deploying custom branding (css, javascript, page layouts), custom Lists / Libraries, along with some custom webparts / functionalities. Is it recommended to go through this route, or can the App Model even handle a deployment of sorts?

Or if Sandbox solution is still preferred for this level of project, how do we start developing since we don't have SharePoint On-Premise? Is it possible to just copy the ISAPI folder and required dlls and develop on our local machine?

Thank you!

  • Really an awesome question... – Kannan Jun 23 '16 at 6:01
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The recommended approach by MS is to provision everything using app (or more recently called add-in) model. PnP has lots of examples showing how to do this but for start you can go through following:

  1. Self-Service Site Provisioning using Apps
  2. Introducing app script part pattern for Office365 app model
  3. Site Provisioning
  4. Patterns and Practices

You can also check similar question here

Hope this helps for a start. You can get lots of other examples on PnP.

I won't recommend sandbox solution for these things as they are deprecated.

  • apps are same as ad-ins – Swayam Siddha Sep 23 '15 at 7:12
  • Thanks Garima! That looks to be a very useful git, it seems to have a lot of examples! It seems that the way to go is really SharePoint App or Remote Provisioning. Is there a difference between the two? Can they be used together if needed (ex. some webparts will be SharePoint App but Site Provisioning and Configuration will be through Remote Provisioning)? – Water Sep 23 '15 at 13:37
  • Remote provisioning is model where we actually do the template system outside of the SharePoint by using the new SharePoint add-in patterns. So remote provisioning is a concept achieved by using SP add-in. You will be using both for this. If you have any issues while doing this, please join MS O365 yammer network and post your queries there. It is a really helpful forum with dedicated group for PnP. yammer.com/itpronetwork – Garima Sep 24 '15 at 3:18
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Couple of important considerations-

Sandbox solutions will soon be deprecated.

Sandbox Solutions were depricated in 2013 are not supported in 2016 (the beta of which is already out). Hence sandbox solution is not recommended.

Is it possible to do an Intranet Deployment using the App Model?

Deploying deep customizations are definately possible with the App model itself. Ideally, you need to use sharepoint designer for light client-side customizations and extending usability, and go for apps in case there is a need for deeper customizations. Are you planning on implementing a single click deployment package ?

App model can let you implement solutions as a stand-alone entity or as app-parts which can be added to a webparts page. For lighter customizations you can go for SharePoint hosted apps (which is purely JS based), deeper customization requires Provider Hosted Apps (managed CSOM). You can create and deploy custom xaml workflows with apps.

The apps can be made pluggable (reusable accross multiple sharepoint infrastrucutres, similar to farm solutions) and allow for external provisioning (provisioning is a crucial component of single click deployemnts).

The Patten-and-Practices shared by @Garima are a very good source of insight.

This source should answer a lot of your concerns and give you a general idea of how to start off with the app model.

This example is around building a reasonably complex solution using sharepoint hosted app and BreezeJS

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    Thanks Swayam! It's great to know that SharePoint Online can still have deep customization. That link you provided from msdn is very spot on, really made me understand more about the state of SharePoint Online. Yes, best case is like a single click deployment package (similar to .wsp where it is just one file deployed). Is SharePoint App different from Remote Provisioning? What do you find to be the best to use between the two? – Water Sep 23 '15 at 13:39
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    With SharePoint Online, you have no option but go with apps for deeper customizations. As far as I can visualize, you will have to go for a mix of js customizations, xaml/spd workflows for provisioning and apps as and when required. I am not sure how to go on with single click deployment of a complete intranet infrastructure in the context of apps only. – Swayam Siddha Sep 23 '15 at 13:43

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