I've looked over a few of the learning SP threads, but the few references I've found to SP Online don't give any detail on its use for learning development.

I'm about to begin work on a project that will involve creating custom event handlers and web parts for a client's SharePoint installation. Although I'm an experienced .NET developer (ASP.NET, MVC, and forms), I don't have any experience with SharePoint. My employer's usual SOP for technologies new to a developer is to non-bill any time it takes the dev to get up to speed with that technology. I still get paid for my time by my employer, but we don't charge the client.

Since this is a totally new environment for me, I'd like to experiment a bit before the project starts. I have access to the client's SP installation, but I'm obviously not going to do my experimentation there. My employer doesn't have an SP instance that I can access. We do have SharePoint licenses though, so I could set it up, but I'm not sure how labor-intensive that is.

However, I noticed that SP Online is only $3-7/month. Does Online limit me to a much smaller set of functionality as far as development goes? Would I still be able to develop custom event handlers, web parts, etc in Visual Studio and deploy them to an Online instance?

3 Answers 3


SharePoint online does indeed have a smaller set of functionality. But it would still provide a good way to get started. You can certainly create event handlers, as long as they are deployed via a sandbox solution. Sandbox solutions have restricted functionality vs farm solutions, so you may or may not be able to build out the desired functionality, depending on requirements. You can also build out web parts, but not "visual web parts". (Though, the model for building web parts is shifting to focus on client-side development, which is 100% supported by SharePoint online).

And, Office 365 will give you 30 days free, so no harm in giving it a try...

More on what you can do with sandbox solutions: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/library/gg615464.aspx


There are limits when using Sharepoint online vs On premise

SharePoint Online Service Description gives you information what you can do and what you cannot do with SharePoint Online


You will not be able to develop to the farm level, SharePoint Online only gives you access to Site Collections. See Developing SharePoint Online Solutions on technet.

What I have done is create my own VM using either VirtualBox or Windows 8 HyperV with a standalone SharePoint server plus Visual Studio.

You could also look at Azure which is offering a 3 month free trial and offers VMs now as well. Getting Started with SharePoint on Azure.

  • I marked a different response as the answer because they pointed out what can be done with SP Online. However, I think that in my particular situation, your link to Azure is how I'm going to go, especially with the 3 month free trial and an SP 2013 trial until October. Apr 24, 2013 at 3:25
  • Best of luck with it. I highly recommend you check out exercise 6 in this link about de-provisioning your VM when you are not using it. It saves some of the uptime attributed to the trial.
    – Richard
    Apr 24, 2013 at 13:53

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