Our team have been working on app module inside SharePoint 2013 on-premise for many years and on many projects. Now as we got new projects that are:-

  • -On- premise SharePoint 2016

    • Office 365 SharePoint 2013.

Now I have a couple of questions, about the App development if someone can help me in :-

1- Now we have many technical materials about using SharePoint app inside SP 2013, so does these technical material and training courses apply to on-premise SP 2016 & office 365 ? or there are some differences and some new features ?

2- For developers who have been working on App development inside on-premise SP 2013 , is their knowledge transferable to on-premise 2016 & office 365? Or they are new things to learn?

3- Now on new materials about SP 2016 , they uses the word add-in instead of APP, and even inside Visual Studio it uses the word add-in instead of APP. So now if we want to develop App for our current on-presmise 2013 SP can we still create APP using VS ? or we need to install the new updates for VS to start creating add-ins?

4- If we create an APP using existing VS 2012, can this app work inside SP 2016 ? or SP 2016 understand add-in only and not app ?? or they are the same but differ in the name ?

5- in SP 2016 is there a preference of using any of these over the other:- provider hosted app & sharepoint hosted app ?? or both approaches are still recommended in SP 2016?



A1: For the most part the process of developing apps for SharePoint 2013, 2016 and SharePoint Online is the same. The one big difference in the authentication model used by Provider-hosted apps. If you have an on-premises farm you need to use a model called Server-to-Server (a.k.a STS or high-trust) authentication. If you have a hybrid deployment (i.e. both on-prem and SharePoint Online) or you are only using SharePoint Online then you authenticate with Azure ACS (a.k.a low-trust).

A2: The knowledge is transferable. The only thing they may need to learn is the authentication model used by Provider-hosted Apps targeting SharePoint Online.

A3: Microsoft changed the term app to add-in around the time of Ignite 2015. It is just a name change, not a technology change. To answer the second part of your question: you can only use Visual Studio 2015 to develop for SharePoint 2016. You will also need to add the tooling that contains the SharePoint 2016 project templates. You can get these from: Microsoft Office Developer Tools Preview 2 for Visual Studio 2015.

A4: Yes, if you create an app for SharePoint 2013 it will work in SharePoint 2016.

A5: The choice of what type of app to build is the same whether you are targeting SharePoint 2013 or 2016.

For more information feel free to check out my YouTube videos: What's New for Developers in SharePoint 2016 and What's New for Developers in SharePoint 2016 - Update 1

  • thanks for your detailed reply. so the Server-to-Server authentication is only available in SP-2016 is this correct ? second question in Answer3 you mentioned that i need VS-2015 to develop app for SP-216, but on Answer4 you mentioned i can develop and app for SP2013 using VS-2012 and this app will work on SP-2016,, so i did not get this point clearly ?thanks – john Gu Nov 19 '16 at 3:01
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    1) Server-to-server authentication is used when you have an on-premises farm. That could be SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint 2016. 2) If you want to target a SharePoint 2016 site during development you can only use Visual Studio 2015 with the tools I linked to in my answer. Now, you can deploy apps built for SharePoint 2013 to SharePoint 2016. So technically you could develop your app using Visual Studio 2012, 2013, or 2015 and targeting a SharePoint 2013 site for debugging and then deploy the package for the app to SharePoint 2016 but this is definitely not a recommended practice. – Rob Windsor Nov 19 '16 at 3:30
  • so if i have a working app inside sp 2013 on-premise, then i can not (or it is not recommended) to use it inside on-premise 2016 or inside office 365 ?? is this what you meant ? – john Gu Nov 19 '16 at 3:38
  • 1
    Let me try to clarify. If you already have an app that was built for SharePoint 2013 you can deploy it to SharePoint 2016 and use it - that's fine. If you want to create a new app that works on both SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016, then you should develop it using SharePoint 2013 for debugging and test it in both environments. To do this you can use Visual Studio 2012, 2013 or 2015. If you want to create a new app for SharePoint 2016 only then you should develop it using SharePoint 2016 for debugging. To do this you must use Visual Studio 2015. – Rob Windsor Nov 19 '16 at 3:50

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