Why you should keep your on premise SharePoint when developing for Office 365

Office 365

If you’re diving into the wonderful world of developing for Office 365, or SharePoint Online, don’t let go of your development environment just yet!

Keeping your on premise instance of SharePoint 2013 for development will make a few things much easier, and will alleviate headaches in the long run.

For starters, make sure to have your environment configured with host named site collection, not separate web apps. This closely mimics how Office 365 is configured, and will help down the road. See this TechNet article for more details.

Errors

You heard it here first, Office 365 will error on you!

If you kept your on premises SharePoint, you can try the same app there, and if it errors, look through the logs. If it does not error, wait out Office 365 (more below).

I ran into this exact issue when developing a provider hosted app. Just couldn’t get past the error on Office 365. I spun up my virtual environment, tried it there, and received the same error. Searched the logs and found that my client ID wasn’t correct. Oops, I fat fingered something. Fixed and reran on Office 365 and success!

This won’t always work, as Office 365 does get updated more frequently than your environment does, and some of those updates may cause issues. Test it on your on-prem and then Open an Issue with Microsoft (more below).

You can also check the error log with your app, if you’re lucky. More on that here.

Waiting for Office 365

Sadly, Office 365 isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. Sometimes, Microsoft and team will randomly perform maintenance, and it appears whenever they want. I was working through the aforementioned provider hosted app, when all of a sudden, everything went read-only:

Site is read only Office 365

Great, now what?! Nothing. I couldn’t do anything, but my deadline kept getting closer!

What is a SharePointer to do? Dive into your on premise environment which you were wise enough to save, and finish development there. This read-only status kept for about 6 hours this day. This can really hurt development progress when this happens.

Another fun thing is when services get degraded.

Office 365 degraded SharePoint Online

This issue came up, and hindered one specific piece of what we were developing, sorry I forget what it is exactly. Sure enough, moving to on-premises saved the day.

One more story: I was working happily in Office 365 all day, with a deadline the next day, things were going smoothly. I left work at 5p, knowing I’d sneak in a little more work that night to polish up the app. I get home, enjoy my family time, and jump online once my kids are in bed. Sure enough, Office 365 is experiencing an issue and wouldn’t let me continue… grrr… Got up early the next morning and things started working again (I was able to meet my deadline).

Open an Issue with Microsoft

I have to hand it to Microsoft, their support team for Office 365 is responsive! Submit a support request through your tenant. If you’re working on someone else’s tenant, it’s okay, submit the request using your details. Gone are the days of having to submit under an account user just to hand the ticket off to someone else.

Once submitted, they call me back within 4 hours most times. Not too shabby. They aren’t the brightest set of support techs, sometimes things get escalated, but they really try hard to fix your issues.

Again, if you have your on-prem environment, you can submit the support request, then continue working on-prem.

Less Important, Until You Lose it

Office 365 is on the cloud, and if you lose your internet, you’re down. This may go for your on premises SharePoint as well if it’s not running locally on your workstation. Nothing hinders work more than not being able to access anything! Keep it mind.

Keep Your On Premises SharePoint

Just do it.

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