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Flying blind in SharePoint Online development

SharePoint Online development is far different from SharePoint on-premises development. It's the elephant in the room, one expert said.

SharePoint Online development can be more than frustrating if you don't think about the outcome of your choices. SharePoint Online, the cloud-based version of the content management system from Microsoft, is part of the Office 365 suite.

SharePoint implementations often grow at a fast pace, which requires the development and testing of new functionality on a regular basis. But development can be cumbersome -- and prohibitively difficult -- if developers don't compensate for the limitations of a Microsoft Azure environment.

According to Scott Robinson, a SharePoint consultant and expert, the difference between developing for SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premises is "the elephant in the room -- it's absolutely huge." Robinson noted that he has been working on a SharePoint online deployment for one of the largest fast-food chain corporations, and his developer colleague has endured myriad headaches because he has no visibility into the server-side issues that affect his development.

"If I'm working as a SharePoint developer in an on-premises deployment, I have access to the server side and the client side of my SharePoint transactions," Robinson said. "If I'm deployed in the Azure cloud using SharePoint Online, I only have access to the client side; I don't have access to what's going on the server side. Microsoft handles that," he said.

No longer having access to the server side is a disadvantage for developers in terms of troubleshooting newly written code. "We don't have access to the server logs if things break. I'm kind of left blind. A developer has to learn to work with one hand tied behind his or her back, and that's a huge problem; it's not cost-effective for Microsoft to cater to my particular development issues."

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