Developing for SharePoint: Best Practices and Essential Tools

Software & Applications

SharePoint development has evolved significantly over the years, becoming a central component for collaboration and content management in many organizations. Developers tasked with building apps for SharePoint must navigate a series of best practices and toolsets to ensure their solutions are efficient, scalable, and maintainable. This article will guide you through these best practices and highlight essential tools that are integral for effective SharePoint development.

Best Practices for SharePoint Development

1. Understand SharePoint Framework (SPFx)

SPFx is the latest development model from Microsoft, designed specifically for SharePoint development. It allows you to create responsive and mobile-friendly apps directly in SharePoint. Mastery of SPFx is crucial because it supports client-side SharePoint development, enabling richer, faster, and more interactive user experiences.

2. Utilize Client-Side Development

Shift your development strategy towards client-side models using JavaScript frameworks like React or Angular. This approach reduces the server load and provides a smoother user experience. Client-side development also facilitates easier integration with other services and APIs.

3. Implement Automated Testing

Testing is vital to ensure the quality and functionality of your SharePoint applications. Automated testing helps you to efficiently manage the testing process, catching bugs early and speeding up the release cycles. Tools like Selenium or Jest can automate UI and unit testing, respectively.

4. Focus on Security

Given the extensive use of SharePoint for handling sensitive data, securing your applications is paramount. Always use HTTPS, implement Azure AD for authentication, and ensure that permissions are correctly managed and audited regularly.

5. Optimize Performance

Optimizing the performance of your SharePoint apps enhances user satisfaction and engagement. Minimize the use of large images, leverage browser caching, and bundle your files to reduce the number of server requests.

6. Adhere to SharePoint Design Principles

When developing for SharePoint, maintain a consistent look and feel with the existing SharePoint environment. Use the Office UI Fabric, which provides a set of UX frameworks you can use to integrate your app seamlessly into Office and SharePoint.

Essential Tools for Effective SharePoint Development

1. SharePoint Framework (SPFx)

SharePoint Framework (SPFx) provides a page and web part model that enables full support for client-side SharePoint development, easy integration with SharePoint data, and support for open source tooling.

2. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is a lightweight but powerful source code editor which runs on your desktop. It comes with built-in support for JavaScript, TypeScript, and Node.js and has a rich ecosystem of extensions for other languages (such as C#, Python, PHP, and Go).

3. PnP PowerShell

Patterns and Practices (PnP) PowerShell is a set of PowerShell commands that allows you to perform complex provisioning and automation of SharePoint development tasks, which can be scripted to manage sites, content, and configurations more effectively.

4. Office 365 CLI

The Office 365 CLI is a cross-platform CLI that allows you to manage your Office 365 tenant and SharePoint Framework projects on any platform. It is particularly useful for automating tasks in build pipelines and scripts.

5. SharePoint Dev Tools

Utilizing browser-based tools like the SharePoint REST API or the Chrome Developer Tools can significantly simplify debugging and development. They allow you to interact directly with SharePoint components, test APIs in real-time, and debug client-side code directly in the browser.

6. SharePoint Designer

For simpler automation tasks and workflows, SharePoint Designer offers a no-code solution that integrates directly with SharePoint. While not suitable for complex applications, it is very effective for quick solutions and workflow management.


Successful SharePoint development requires understanding the right practices and utilizing the best tools. From leveraging modern client-side frameworks to mastering the SharePoint Framework and automating with PowerShell, each element plays a crucial role in delivering high-quality SharePoint applications. By adopting these best practices and tools, developers can ensure robust, efficient, and secure applications that enhance organizational productivity and user engagement.