Category Archives: SharePoint 2013

What the Top SharePoint ISV’s Use for their Public Facing Websites !!!!

cms_a I have done this quick exercise to measure the level of confidence the top SharePoint ISV’s have for SharePoint as a WCM platform they can rely on to run their .com sites. The results took me by a big surprise!!

AvePoint SilverStripe (PHP)
Metalogix ASP.NET
Nintex SiteCore (.NET)
Webcon PHP Drupal (PHP)
BPA Solutions WordPress (PHP)
Idera SiteCore (.NET)
Gradient Contao (PHP)
AgilePoint WordPress (PHP)
Adlib SiteCore (.NET)
CardioLog ASP.NET
ShareGate SiteCore (.NET)
HarePoint SharePoint 2013
CoSign WordPress (PHP)
Axceler (Now part of Metalogix) Percussion
MetaVis Drupal (PHP)
Rencore WordPress (PHP)
InfoWise ASP.NET
Bamboo Solutions ASP.NET
Lightning Tools WordPress (PHP)
WebTrends WordPress (PHP)
Collaboris ASP.NET

Seriously? Only one ISV is using SharePoint for their .com ?!

Curation: Application Lifecycle Management for SharePoint & Office 365 Apps

During the past few years, I’ve been promoting, writing, speaking about and explaining the Application Lifecycle Management practices for SharePoint and Office 365 . During those years, I’ve created a lot of content that is unfortunately scattered all over the internet. Today, I’ve published a Curation that provides the best articles, presentations, videos and tools about this topic.


Hope this helps!

[SP24 Conference] Automated Build-Deploy-Test Workflows for SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Using VS2013 – Slides & Video Recording

I’m glad to announce that the slide-deck & video recording for my session at SP24 Conference are now available.

For watching my session recording, click here.
For viewing the slides, click here.
For the other sessions, click here.

Live Online SharePoint Saturday Gulf (#SPSGulf) – Full Schedule Announced

This is just a quick note to let you know that we’ve just announced the full schedule for SharePoint Saturday Gulf (Online). If you haven’t registered, you can still register from here.


Arabic Track

English Track 1

English Track 2

10:00 – 10:50 am

Transforming the way we work
Ulrika Hedlund

11:00 – 11:50 am (GMT+4)

SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Search
Jamil Haddadin (MVP) & Iman Al Maskari

External Collaboration with SharePoint Online and Yammer
Jasper Oosterveld (MVP)

SharePoint Infrastructure Tips and Tricks for On-Premises and Hybrid Cloud Environments
Michael Noel (MVP)

12:00 – 12:50 pm (GMT+4)

Application Lifecycle Management in SharePoint 2013 & Office 365
Ayman El-Hattab (MVP)

Optimizing the release distribution process of SharePoint 2013 to minimize the impact on farm’s availability
Gokan Ozcifci (MVP)

Kinecting with your class: An interactive learning experience for Office 365 for Education
Stefano Tempesta

1:00 – 1:50 pm (GMT+4)

Exploring SharePoint 2013 Cross-Site Publishing
Marwan Tarek

What’s new in SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1)?

Knut Relbe-Moe

Introduction to SharePoint Cloud Business Apps
Usama Khan (MVP)

3:00 – 3:50 pm (GMT+4)

Overview of Office 365 and Yammer
Ahmed Mahmoud (MSFT)

SharePoint Branding 101: Concept to Production
D’arce Hess

The Ultimate User Adoption Cookbook: 6 recipes for success!
Eelco Vink

4:00 – 4:50 pm (GMT+4)

Client Side Rendering in SharePoint 2013
Muawiyah Shannak

Keep SharePoint “Always On”
Liam Cleary (MVP)

Self-Service Site Creation in SP 2013, with SharePoint Designer: A Case Study for a Project Management Office
Jim Bob Howard

5:00– 5:50 pm (GMT+4)

SharePoint Server 2013 as a Digital Asset Management System
Ahmed Said

Getting Started with Office 365 and Power BI
Bjoern Rapp (MVP)

Introduction to Intranet Planning
Haaron Gonzalez (MVP)

6:00 – 6:50 pm (GMT+4)

Workflow Manager Tips & Tricks
Mai Omar Desouki

SharePoint Search – An Indispensable Tool
Saifullah Shafiq (MVP)

Winning Strategies for Successful SharePoint Backup and restore
David Toyne

Join from the links below :

Keynote : 
Arabic Track
English Track 1 :
English Track 2 :  ​
Password for all tracks: spsgulf


Automated Testing Challenges for SharePoint Apps – Assigning the Latest Build to the Current Test Plan!

During my SharePoint Conference session (SPC273 : Application lifecycle management in Office and SharePoint), I showed the audience how simple it’s to automate the process of building, packaging & deploying SharePoint apps by creating very basic Team Foundation Server Build Definitions. I’ve also quickly touched upon two challenges that architects and developers usually face when trying to add Automated Build Verification Tests (BVT) to the process & hence reaching a fully automated continuous deployment process.

The two challenges are:

I’ve explained the first challenge along with a trick that you can use to eliminate the manual step needed in this post. Today, I’m going to explain the second challenge and show you how to handle it.

The Challenge:

If you are using Microsoft Test Manager for testing, the “build in use” field within the Test Plan should be updated to use the specific build that your testers are going to test.

There are two main reasons for this:

  • As you proceed with testing, you might find bugs. Those bugs should be logged against a specific build for traceability & reporting reasons. For more info, please check this article.
  • Before automated tests are executed, Microsoft Team Foundation Server copies the Test Automation assemblies from the drop folder of the assigned Build to the remote testing environment where test cases would be executed. I’ve written a post and recorded a quick video last year to show how and where those DLLs are copied, you can check them out from here.

Unfortunately, There is no option out-of-the-box to automatically update the “Build in use” field to use the latest build. This means that after the SharePoint App is built, packaged, deployed & trusted, you still need to pause the testing efforts, go to Microsoft Test Manager and update this field manually to use the latest build. In case you want to add Automated Build Verification Tests (BVT) to your build definition, you will need to find a way to automate this task and that’s exactly what we are aiming for; a fully automated continuous deployment and quality assurance process.

The Trick:

The trick is simple:

  • Create a console application that uses Team Foundation Server API to retrieve the latest successful build and then assign it to the current test plan.
  • Call the console app from within your build definition (After the app is built, packaged, deployed and trusted and before test cases are executed).

Now I have a few questions to answer:

  • How can I create the console application?
    Here is some code that you can use. The code is self explanatory.
  • Where should I deploy it?
    I usually copy the output .exe to my testing environment. You can copy it anywhere, just keep in mind that it should be executed on a machine with ‘at least’ Visual Studio Team Explorer is installed.
  • How can I call it from the build definition?
    There are different options. The one I use is as follows:
    • Create a build definition based on the “Lab Default Build Process Template”
    • Copy the .exe to the testing environment.
    • Call the Console Application after the app deployment (and trust) take place and just before test cases are executed.

Once the console application is called, the “Build in use” field is updated, the latest & correct Test Automation assemblies are copied to the remote testing environment, the test cases are executed on the latest build, and the results are published and reported against it.

Here is an example for what you can get once a developer checks-in some code to the source control repository:


See it in action:

To complement my #SPC14 session, I’ve recorded a 25-min video to show how to create a fully automated continuous deployment process for SharePoint Apps (Build – Deploy – Trust – Test – Report). The two challenges are handled in the video, you can watch it from here.

Application Lifecycle Management in SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 using Team Foundation Server 2013 & Visual Studio Online – The Dev Environment(s)

This is the 3rd article of a series of posts on SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Application Lifecycle Management:

  • Introduction
  • Infrastructure Overview
  • The Development Environment(s) à You are here!
  • The ALM Platform(s)
  • The Testing Environment(s)
  • Automated Build & Deployment for Full-Trust & Sandboxed Solutions
  • Automated Build & Deployment for SharePoint-hosted & Autohosted Apps
  • Automated Build & Deployment for Provider-hosted Apps (Azure-hosted)
  • Automated Build, Deployment & Testing for Full-Trust & Sandboxed Solutions
  • Automated Build, Deployment & Testing for Apps
  • Release Management Overview
  • Release Management for Apps
  • Release Management for Full-Trust & Sandboxed Solutions


In the previous post, I have quickly given you an overview on the full ALM environment that we will be building. The environment comprises some on-premises components & services as well as some cloud services. The on-premises components & services will be combined & hosted in three Virtual Machines as explained earlier.

Here is a quick summary for our full ALM environment:



VM1 : Development Machine

O365 Tenant for Development +
Windows Azure Platform

VM2 : TFS Build Machine

Visual Studio Online (TFS Service)

VM3 : Test Machine

O365 Tenant for Testing

O365 Tenant for Production

The reason for having the setup above might not be fully understood at this point. Don’t worry, this will become crystal clear as we move forward.

In today’s post we’ll start creating & provisioning the components & services needed to support our SharePoint Server 2013/ Office 365 development efforts. This will require some on-prem components as well as some cloud services.

Development Environment Considerations

At the end of the previous post, I’ve included some very important exercises. One of which was reading the “Development environment Considerations” section of this MSDN Article. If you haven’t done so, I’d encourage you to read it first before moving forward with this post.

Figure 1. Development environment components and tools
Source: SharePoint Server 2013 Application Lifecycle Management

Creating an O365 development site

With an O365 development site, you can start creating & deploying applications that will be hosted in Office 365, on-premises or on other infrastructure in a provider-hosted model. The benefit of this environment is that infrastructure, virtualization and other hosting considerations for a SharePoint development environment are abstracted by Office 365, allowing you to create applications instantly. A prime consideration for this type of development environment is that applications that require full trust code to be deployed to SharePoint cannot be accommodated as shown in the figure below:

Figure 2. Office 365 App Development
Source: SharePoint Server 2013 Application Lifecycle Management

If you are planning to develop Provider-hosted Apps with the Provider-hosted component hosted on Windows Azure, you will to get an Azure Subscription. Actually, I’m going to show you this scenario in one of the upcoming posts.

Use the steps below to obtain and provision an O365 development site & an Azure subscription:

  1. Get an O365 development site :
  1. Are you an MSDN subscriber? Visual Studio Ultimate and Visual Studio Premium with MSDN subscribers receive a 1-year Office 365 Developer Subscription as a benefit. Redeem your benefit today.
  2. Do you have a midsize business and enterprise (Plan E1 or E3) Office 365 subscription? You can provision a Developer Site from the Office 365 admin center. For more information, see How to: Provision a Developer Site using your existing Office 365 subscription.
  3. You can either start with a free 30-day trial, or buy an Office 365 developer subscription (with one user license for either option) by using one of the following links. This subscription costs $99.00 per year.

2. Provision the developer site by following the instructions explained in this article.

3. Get a Windows Azure trial subscription from here.

Now, you have all what you need to develop SharePoint-hosted, Autohosted & provider-hosted (azure-hosted) apps for Office 365!

Creating a Self-contained farm environment (virtualized farm development)

For those solutions that require the deployment of full trust code to run on a SharePoint farm, a full implementation of SharePoint Server 2013 will be required. In our case, we’ll be creating and using a virtualized development machine. I’ll refer to this as the Dev Machine from this point onwards.

Figure 3. On-premises development with a virtual environment
Source: SharePoint Server 2013 Application Lifecycle Management

SharePoint has always been known to require a good deal of resources, and that requirement continues to grow. A single server setup, running SQL Server and SharePoint, with all available services requires 24 GB of RAM. This is a rather large amount even for a production server, let alone a development environment. Microsoft states that for a single server development environment, 8 GB is required to run the minimum recommended services. If Visual Studio 2013 is also running, RAM the requirements increase to 10 GB. These requirements seem rather difficult to satisfy considering most SharePoint development is done on laptops with 8 GB of RAM. To get SharePoint 2013 to run smoothly on a VM with 4-6 GB, we will run only the necessary services. This means no Excel services, workflow services, or search. The most that can be done with an environment like this will be to configure sites and build simple solutions & apps. Use this guide to create a full self-contained development machine.

Before proceeding with the steps outlined in the guide, please note the following:

  • Once you create your Virtual Machine (using any Virtualization Technology), you will need to connect the machine to the two Virtual Network Switches that we created in the previous post.
  • The installation process can quickly get out of hand if you simply choose to install all features of SQL Server and SharePoint. The recommended guide will walk you through installing only what is required to get SharePoint running on a single server.
  • This guide is instructing you to install Visual Studio 2012 Premium, install Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate instead.
  • For a more convenient development experience, you might need to disable loopback security check as explained here.
  • (Optional) To optimize the performance of the Dev Machine, you might need to follow some of the instructions outlined in this post.
  • (Important) After following the steps outlined in the guide, you will need to configure the Dev Machine for Apps development & deployment. The exact steps are explained here.
  • If you’d like to exactly follow my steps and have a similar configuration like mine, I’m using the following :
    • Computer Name : dev, Domain Name :

      Figure 4. Computer and domain configurations

    • Fixed IP :

      Figure 5. IP Configurations

    • When configuring your dev environment for Apps, use the following :
      • Forward lookup zone name :
      • App Prefix : dev
      • App Domain :

      Figure 7. Forward lookup zone with a wildcard DNS entry

      Figure 7. Configure App URLs using Central Administration

    • Use Cairo\Administrator for installing everything. Once you are done with the full installation and configuration processes, copy the “Cairo\Administrator” Active Directory domain user to create another account (cairo\sharepointer) then make sure to add the new user (Cairo\SharePointer) to the Farm Administrators Group from SharePoint Central Administration. This will be our primary user for performing development & deployment. The reason for this is that SharePoint will not allow you to install nor uninstall apps using the farm account (System Account).

      Figure 8. Clone an Active Directory User Account

      Figure 9. SharePoint Farm Administrators

Creating an On-Prem Development Site (Remote Development)

If you choose not to use Office 365 developer sites as a primary means for SharePoint application development, on-premises developer sites can be used to develop SharePoint applications. In this model, the Office 365 developer sites’ capability is replaced with on-premises developer sites hosted within a SharePoint farm. The on-premises developer site can be used to deploy SharePoint-hosted & Provider-hosted apps. You cannot use this model for deploying Auto-hosted apps.

Figure 10. On-premises app development with the developer site template
Source: SharePoint Server 2013 Application Lifecycle Management

To create an on-prem developer site, you can follow the steps outlined in this post. Please make sure first that you have properly configured your dev machine for SharePoint apps as explained above.


In this post, we have created a self-contained virtualized farm (with an on-prem Developer Site) and an O365 tenant (with a SharePoint Online Developer Site). We have also obtained a Windows Azure Trial subscriptions. We will be using those Development environments to explain & try several ALM scenarios for both SharePoint Server 2013 & Office 365 SharePoint Online.

The crossed-out components in the table below are the ones we have created so far. In the next post, we will be building and provisioning our ALM Platform; that is VM2 (which will host Team Foundation Server 2013 on-prem) & Visual Studio Online (TFS Service or TFS Online).



VM1 : Development Machine

O365 Tenant for Development +
Windows Azure Platform

VM2 : TFS Build Machine à Next Post

Visual Studio Online (TFS Service) à Next Post

VM3 : Test Machine

O365 Tenant for Testing

O365 Tenant for Production


While waiting for the next post, I would like you to do the following:

Exercise 1 Download the following Software:
Team Foundation Server 2013
Exercise 2 (Optional) If you are not familiar with Visual Studio Online, please read this article.
Exercise 3
If you are not familiar with Team Foundation Server, please read this article.

Application Lifecycle Management in SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 using Team Foundation Server 2013 & Visual Studio Online – Infrastructure Overview

This is the second article of a series of posts on SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Application Lifecycle Management:

  1. Introduction
  2. Infrastructure Overview –> You are here!
  3. The Development Environment(s)
  4. The ALM Platform(s)
  5. The Testing Environment(s)
  6. Automated Build & Deployment for Full-Trust & Sandboxed Solutions
  7. Automated Build & Deployment for SharePoint-hosted & Autohosted Apps
  8. Automated Build & Deployment for Provider-hosted Apps (Azure-hosted)
  9. Automated Build, Deployment & Testing for Full-Trust & Sandboxed Solutions
  10. Automated Build, Deployment & Testing for Apps
  11. Release Management Overview
  12. Release Management for Full-Trust & Sandboxed Solutions
  13. Release Management for Apps

Throughout the series, we will be trying different scenarios for creating, deploying, building, testing & releasing solutions / applications that are based on SharePoint technologies, for both on-premises and in hosted or public cloud platforms. We will be also be switching between Team Foundation Server (On-premises) & Visual Studio Online (TFS Service) as an ALM Platform. This is to leave you comfortable with both platforms then you can decide later which option suits you the best.

In today’s post, I will give you a quick overview on the complete ALM environment that we will be creating in the next three posts. This infrastructure will then be used in our learning journey to apply the different ALM practices to SharePoint development.

Our ALM Environment

The environment that we will be creating includes some on-premises components & services as well as some cloud services.

Here are the main on-premises components & services needed for our ALM environment:

  • Active Directory Domain Controller
  • SharePoint Development Farm
  • Team Foundation Server 2013
  • Team Foundation Build Service
  • Visual Studio Test Controller
  • SharePoint System Integration & Testing Farm
  • Visual Studio 2013 Release Management Server

You can of course setup each of the above on-premises roles on a separate Physical or Virtual machine. In my case, I want to minimize the infrastructure needed therefore I will combine some of them to live side-by-side.

VM Name On-prem Components & Services
Dev Machine Active Directory Domain Services
SharePoint 2013 Development Farm
TFS Build Machine Team Foundation Server 2013
Team Foundation Build Service 2013
Visual Studio 2013 Test Controller
Release Management Server
Test Machine SharePoint 2013 Integration & System Testing Farm

As for the Cloud part of our ALM environment, the following services are needed:

  • Visual Studio Online (TFS Service)
  • Three Office 365 Tenants (For development, Testing & Production)
  • Windows Azure PaaS (Azure Websites)

And here is a combined view for the full environment:



VM1 :   Development Machine

O365 Tenant for Developing O365 Apps +
Windows Azure Platform

VM2 : TFS   Build Machine

Visual Studio Online (TFS Service)

VM3 :   Test Machine

O365 Tenant for Testing O365 Apps

O365 Tenant for Production

Please note the following:

  • For the sake of simplicity and for reducing the number of Virtual Machines, I’ll install the Active Directory Domain Services on the Dev Machine then I will promote it to be my primary Active Directory Domain Controller, I’ll then connect all the other machines to this Active Directory Domain. In real-life of course, there should be a separate machine for AD.
  • The third column in the first table “On-prem Components & Services” is very much simplified for now, I’ll be explaining and expanding on this in the next posts.
  • The VM’s can also be hosted in Windows Azure IaaS. In my case, I’ll just host them in my local Hyper-V server.

Throughout the next three posts, I’ll walk you through the exact steps needed for creating the full ALM environment, this includes both; the on-prem part and the cloud part.

To get prepared for the next post, I would like to leave you with the following homework:

Exercise 1: Read the “Development environment considerations” section of this MSDN article.clip_image001

This section describes the development environment considerations for SharePoint application developers and development teams. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading this section before proceeding to the next post.

Exercise 2: Prepare the physical machine that will host the three Virtual Machines that we will start creating in the next post.
In my case I’m using Windows 8.1 with Hyper-V enabled. To enable Hyper-V on Windows 8/8.1, you can follow the instructions in this article.You will also need to create two Virtual Network Switches (Private & External) in Hyper-V as shown in the figure below :imageWe’ll connect our Virtual Machines to both switches in the next posts.Note: You can use other Virtualization Technologies (VMWare, Oracle VirtualBox, etc…) if you would like to.
Exercise 3: Download the following software:
Windows Server 2012·
SQL Server 2012 SP1
SharePoint Server 2013
Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate