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Now that sandbox solutions are " deprecated " in SharePoint 2013, though we can still develop and use them. What is the best practice of creating site columns,content types and list definitions in a site collection in Office 365 SharePoint 2013. I do not want to create site columns and content types manually through the UI.

Lets say that we are starting with a project and we need a set of site columns, content types, list definitions etc. In a full trust solution ideally we would create modules, list schemas/instances declaratively and deploy it through features.

How is it done in the Office 365 scenario. I know there isnt a hard and fast method of doing it. We can do this through CSOM/still use sandbox solution. However, what would be a good approach.

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    The miscommunication by Microsoft on the state of sandbox solutions in order to push the App model was a great disservice to developers who do real-world work. Declarative solutions (without code, mind you) are still very much applicable, especially in O365. In fact, design packages and Visual Studio workflows, both new for 2013, are sandbox solutions. CSOM with PowerShell is also a viable alternative. In the end it comes down to your particular environment, your solution, and your ability to provide support. – Derek Gusoff May 14 '14 at 16:05
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There was some confusion around the deprecation of sandbox solutions. Essentially, only custom managed code (in sandbox solutions) has been deprecated.

From the (official) SharePoint Dev Blog:

While developing sandboxed solutions that contain only declarative markup and JavaScript -- which we call no-code sandboxed solutions (NCSS) -- is still viable, we have deprecated the use of custom managed code within the sandboxed solution...Given the dynamic nature of online services, we will determine support needs for coded sandboxed solutions in SharePoint Online based on customer demand. NCSSs continue to be supported.

In terms of best practice, that is somewhat debateable though I believe CSOM is winning the battle over declarative sandbox solutions.

Check out this great blog post about it.

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