Using and developing web parts in SharePoint to customize it better  

 

SharePoint development services allows its users to customize and extend SharePoint’s core capabilities across all users and that too, customized as per their need. First launched by Microsoft in 2001, SharePoint platform has significantly evolved adding much more capabilities and features especially in its last two versions. Often credited as the fastest growing product of Microsoft, there has been a significant adoption by Fortune 500 companies mainly for its ability to collaborate seamlessly inspite of the location and workforce strength.

SharePoint with all its advanced features including those like developing web parts is being now viewed as a secure platform for both clients and companies working on the project. The following are some of the benefits of using SharePoint platform:

Benefits exchanging of server functionali ty in developing web parts in SharePoint

There are companies that use Exchange server to manage their overall email traffic especially which are generated from sites. With the help of SharePoint, the enterprises can now have easy email distribution wherein all the exchange traffic is gathered at one place and then securely distributed at a stroke to a group or groups.

Collaboration solutions can be scaled accordingly

Use of SharePoint improves team coordination and collaboration and even customization which is visible when developing web parts in SharePoint in the platform. However, not many enterprises are aware that SharePoint development can be scaled to match their project needs. The SharePoint developers can create applications that can be modified to alter and include people and larger part of the organization.

SharePoint can be customized

Whenever a platform is introduced in any enterprise, companies get worried whether it can be customized or not but with SharePoint, this concern can be rest aside. The SharePoint’s integration with Front Page ensures that the platform is customizable.

Creates dynamic storage systems

Metadata in SharePoint development can be used to tailor-make search arguments so that they can dynamically organize information. This is completely different from the traditional approach, now, it allows users to create metadata lookups which can be used to search arguments in the library for which it is created as well as in other libraries.

Makes InfoPath better

InfoPath got integrated in SharePoint to provide connected forms management and data transport. It is one of the most powerful sections, similar to developing web parts in SharePoint, however, it comes with its own limitations. The applications that are being developed using SharePoint can now be directly used to publish forms that are delivered by InfoPath which can be further accessed, shared and used by the other members of the platform.

Data Transport Mechanism

When using SharePoint, the enterprises already are aware of its capability as a distribution point from where all the data can be collected and transferred to other sources using different kinds of transport modes. The site moving utilities can be used to transfer data from the server to server as per the requirement of the content and site.

Convert word libraries into collaborative systems  

The task pane can be used to transfer documents to libraries besides doing document management. One can also monitor different kinds of tasks, check their status, documents version, define and track access to documents as well as create alerts.

Pull necessary data from external databases and other sources in developing web part in SharePoint

The SharePoint platform can be used for developing web part in SharePoint,  architecture and web parts usually Data View Web Parts which can help the user to add views from different kinds of data sources. It also enables the user to create and develop site-specific views and link all of them together.

SharePoint uses Excel for data management

SharePoint is a platform well known for its collaborative techniques, however, one of the most beneficial feature is that is supports data export to Excel which makes printing and graphing of documents a much easier process. It also improves manageability of documents.

Site back up is more convenient
 

With the help of SharePoint platform and its development, site migration is an easier process which requires no extra ability to move a site included in the form of STSADM and SMIGRATE utilities.
 

There are different tasks within any organization that needs to be distributed widely within different teams, sometimes which are even placed geographically apart leading to compromise in quality or failure to deliver the final product. This is irrespective of the number of employees or for that matter the number of teams that are involved in completing the project. If the business functions from multiple locations, there is a great need for a tool that would be able to provide them with a platform, which improves the overall collaboration, and thereby work deliverables.

In these cases, Microsoft SharePoint platform comes to the rescue as it provides with multi-faceted features that actually helps team members to make and share project deliverables, discussions and even new tasks and announcements from time to time. With the integration of this platform, the team now gets a better way to communicate even the minutest details of the project in real time with enough transparency and clarity.

However, an organization or any enterprise for that matter would have different kinds of ongoing projects that would vary completely from one another. Therefore, with SharePoint, its users can also now customize the data of the home page as required for the project. The data in the homepage is usually planned days ahead so that the work pressure is completely streamlined. The data sets that can be viewed in the SharePoint Home Page is known as Web Parts and developing web parts in SharePoint becomes an essential part for any project.

The SharePoint web parts are usually sourced from various kinds of list data, search results, web pages and forms, etc. When referring to developing web parts, it simply means a way to highlight the important information about a project so that the other team members can work as seamlessly as per the priority of the tasks. The development of web parts in SharePoint is therefore, planned out depending on the nature of the team. One of the most important thing to remember is that SharePoint web parts are parts of information that are available on a SharePoint server.

With the help of web parts, one can alter or modify the content, appearance and behavior of the pages of a SharePoint site by simply using a browser. The web parts are actually server side controls that operates inside of a web part page, building blocks of pages that appear on the site. When developing the web parts, the developer can also create and debug web parts on a SharePoint site by using templates from Visual Studio.

Often considered to be one of the best ways to customize the SharePoint platform, writing SharePoint Web Parts combines the power of ASP.NET with the flexibility of Web Part Pages. For developing the web parts in SharePoint, the article would give you a synopsis on how to get about the web part development in SharePoint.

Creating web parts in Visual Studio

Now, one can create a web part by just integrating a web part item to any kind of SharePoint project. There are two options that can be used for the Web Part item, either the sandboxed solution or a farm solution. However, if one of you want to design a web part visually by using a designer, the developer has to go about it by creating a Visual web part project or integrate the Visual Web Part item to any of the SharePoint project. The Visual Web Part item can only be used in a farm solution.

What is a web part item?

Before going forth to understand all about developing web parts in SharePoint, one must know what it is. A web part item is designed to provide you with the necessary files that can be used to design a web part for a SharePoint site. When the web part item is added, the Visual Studio is able to create a folder in your project and which adds then several files to the folder. The following table would describe each of the following file:

  • Elements.xml: Contains information that the Feature definition file in your project uses to deploy the web
  • .webpart file: Provides information that SharePoint needs to display your web part in a web part gallery
  • Code File: Contains methods that add controls to the web part and that generate custom content within the web part

Visual web part item

In developing web parts, these are some of the things that the developer should keep in mind. The visual web part is a web part that is created by using the Visual Web Developer designer in Visual Studio. The visual web part functions in the same way as other web part, to cite an instance, to add controls such as buttons and text boxes to the web part, you can simply add code to an XML file. However, you can simply copy and drag onto a web part from the Visual Studio Toolbox to be included in the visual web part. The designer is then required to generate the requisite code in the XML file.

Controls in SharePoint

The visual studio provides some of the basic controls that would be of great help when creating SharePoint pages especially application pages. These controls are all available under the Toolbox under SharePoint Controls. The functionality for each of these controls can be taken from the Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls namespace which actually contains ASP.NET server controls that are used on SharePoint site and list pages. The following are some of the control names and their description:

  • AspMenu: Inserts an ASP menu.
  • DateTimeControl: Inserts a DateTime control into the .aspx page.
  • CssLink: Inserts a LINK element into the .aspx page and applies one or more external style sheets defined by CssRegistration.
  • FormDigest: Inserts a security validation into the .aspx page
  • ProjectProperty: Returns a global property of the current website.
  • ListProperty: Returns a property of a specified list.
  • RssLink: Inserts a link to an RSS feed into the .aspx page.
  • ScriptLink: Provides properties and methods for registering resources, such as scripts, on a page so that they can be requested when the page is rendered.
  • Theme: Applies a theme to the .aspx page.

How to debug a web part?

Just as one would debug other Visual Studio projects, you can also debug SharePoint project that contains the web part. When one begins operating the Visual Studio debugger, the Visual Studio opens the SharePoint site. To begin the process of debugging, one can just add the web part to the web part page in SharePoint.

When developing web parts in SharePoint, one gets the benefits for easy view and access of important information of any project. However, it is important and advisable to take help from professional SharePoint developers who can customize the platform and web parts as per the project deliverables to ensure the platform is efficient to its optimal level. Despite this, it is important to remember that when developing web parts, not too many are included in the home page for if there are a lot, one would be scrolling down to garner information which would take more time thereby making the whole process inefficient. Therefore, after developing the SharePoint web part solution, one can customize it further and increase or decrease the number of items available according to the effectiveness of the project and organization. This can be done by simply selecting the edit option on the home page and then choosing the suitable icon from the insert ribbon.

Conclusion

The SharePoint platform has gained popularity among enterprises and organizations mainly because of its power, flexibility, and scalability options. What is important is to understand that SharePoint is both an application and an application platform. This is because, a part of the SharePoint platform is pre-built, off the shelf application that can be deployed quickly for collaboration and productivity sites. It is the other part of the platform which also includes web parts, which can be developed and customized into any kind of web-based functionality that would cater to the needs of the enterprise. Therefore, it is important to understand that while one section can be customized according to needs, the other part is already integrated system. Before using it, therefore, it is important to include a professional SharePoint developer who would be aware of the process and its capabilities.