To do SharePoint custom development, what is the recommended method? I've read this post, and it appears that if you want to use debugging in VS2010, you'd want to have SharePoint on the same machine where you're running Visual Studio; the registry hack won't allow that.

I'd hate to code directly on our SharePoint box. Is there a free "developer edition" of SharePoint we can install locally on our machines? What's the recommended practice on this? Thanks.

4 Answers 4


Here's a link to a set of step-by-step instructions on how to setup a SharePoint 2010 developer environment. If you use SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SQL Express everything is free (assuming you already have Windows and Visual Studio)

Setting Up the Development Environment for SharePoint 2010 on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008

  • Thanks, Rob. Would there be any difference in our development using SharePoint Foundation 2010 if the server has SharePoint Enterprise 2010? In other words, will the code developed on Foundation run on Enterprise? Thanks :)
    – Alex C
    Jul 10, 2011 at 12:05
  • SharePoint Server sits on to of SharePoint Foundation so yes, any code you develop will work. The issue occurs when you want to develop something that is Server only. Jul 10, 2011 at 12:12
  • Thanks, Rob. That's probably the best way to go for us. We run Win7 x64 Enterprise on our desktops and SharePoint Foundation should do the trick.
    – Alex C
    Jul 10, 2011 at 13:17

First of all: you need SharePoint to be installed on your dev environment to effectively write code for it.

If you have a msdn-subscription, you can get it from there, and get your copy from there. There are several methods start developing on SharePoint, some of them are: * Install it on top of windows7 * create a virtual machine and create your dev environment in there

If you don't have a MSDN-subscription, it gets harder. You could download the Information worker VM from microsoft or you could buy/rent a dev environment in the cloud, for example at http://www.cloudshare.com/

  • Thank you, Bas. We'll need to go with a virtual machine that has SP2010 on it. But I wonder why there's no development version of SharePoint; it would make life for us coders so much easier :)
    – Alex C
    Jul 10, 2011 at 10:24
  • SharePoint Foundation is, in effect, the developer version of SharePoint. Jul 10, 2011 at 11:41

you have to work on a computer with SharePoint.

The recommanded approach (my recommendation actually) is to install a local sharepoint farm on your computer (physical or virtual), code your program, then package it properly in a sharepoint solution (.wsp).

Deploy then the wsp on your production farm (after testing it of course).

You can install SP 2010 on a computer having Vista x64 or Win 7 x64. The major problem is the amount of ram. The minimum is 4GB, but it's highly recommended to have at least 8GB of ram.

I use a virtual environment to industrialize the SP dev process :

  • I have a hyper-v R2 SP1 (support of dynamic memory is cool) host with a lot of ram
  • I built a W2K8 R2 dev machine (install win + SP1 + hotfix, VS 2010 SP1, SP 2010 without running the configuration wizard)
  • sysprep of the computer, then set the vhd file as read only
  • then create on demand new dev computer, using the differentiation disk feature of hyper-v, and set a new local farm each time

This blog post(WSS V3, but concepts still apply to v4) describes part of this process.


You can still get this exact error in VS2012 (together with other spurious ones about not being able to recycle the app pool etc when deploying) when moving to a new server with SharePoint itself definately installed - so it's a bit of a shock when you get this message (worriedly thought it was due to moving from SP Server to Foundation).

Basically, easily forgotten... you also need to install the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/office/apps/fp123627.aspx then you're back in business!

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