Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Developing WebParts for SharePoint

Here are the tips I wish I had known before this week and this is what I learned so that you won't have to go throught the same pain when learning to build Webparts in SharePoint.

-Ted Pattison has the best screencasts on SharePoint that I have found. He is also very funny. I insist that you watch the "Building ASP.NET Web Parts for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0" as your first step to learning how to build a SharePoint webpart! Setup your environment as detailed below, and then walk through Ted's demo with him. IMPORTANT TIP. Make sure you DOWNLOAD the screencast (right click and save target as) so that you can pause and rewind the video as he walks through it. This video is the key to the difference between frustration and success!

-Download The latest SDK for Sharepoint WSS 3.0. Open up the help file WSS3sdk.chm, and start with the "Walkthrough: Creating a Basic SharePoint Web Part" (After you've gone through Ted Pattison's Screencast). The corresponding article online at MSDN appears to have lots of errors, so I recomment opening the one in the WSS3sdk.chm.

-For debugging webparts, make sure you have customerrors=off in your web.config file. The key to debugging webparts is having Visual studio installed on the same machine as Sharepoint, so that you can set breakpoints and actively debug your code. Copying the Sharepoint DLLs isn't enough, that will at least let you compile and use intellisense, but to debug, VS and Sharepoint have to be on the same box. You may need to set up a virtual machine since you probabaly don't have sharepoint set up on your laptop and you don't have a spare $2,000 to buy a physical server.
+another tip from Ted Pattison: set your Visual Studio project so that the output builds to the bin directory of your sharepoint website. for example:
However, if you are building a webpart that needs elevated trust, you have to deploy it to the GAC. Here is a nifty trick to automatically deploy to the gac using a post-build script (project properties withing Visual Studio)
C:\WINDOWS\system32\dllcache\gacutil.exe /i I:\VSSworking\I.root\timelineXmlWebpart\bin\Debug\timelineXmlWebpart.dll

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