SharePoint Installation for Developers is Important!
How to do the installation of SharePoint is independent of its version an important task not only for IT professionals but also for developers.
The mistakes a lot of developers do
Imagine the following situation: You develop a SharePoint Web Part, a timer job or something else and it doesn't work after deployment.
If you have a poorly installed SharePoint environment it might happen that it's not the developers fault. But how do you know if it's due to your implementation or if it's due to a bad SharePoint installation. It's not working and with a poor SharePoint installation there are much more things to check in order to solve the problem resulting in loss of time and money. It's important how you install it...
It's also possible that a SharePoint solution works on a development environment and not on a production environment. SharePoint production environments are deployed using best practices... e.g. regarding service accounts. If you use the farm account as the application pool account a Web Part can properly run within your development environment using elevated privileges. Within a production environment it can throw an error because of a different application pool account with different privileges. Again we see that we need to care about how we install it...
So setting up a good performing SharePoint environment is a task for a lot of people with different jobs. Even for a project manager it's important to understand that a proper installed SharePoint environment saves time and therefore money during development as well as during deployment to a test or production environment.
How I do it
I use the following setup since almost 8 years and that worked best for me.
I suggest virtualizing your environment. Here are a few points that are important for my work:
- If you break your SharePoint environment or your image your host laptop still works.
- You can create backups and restore them as you want. And the restore will work.
- You can use snapshots and revert to a working state if something breaks.
- If you have more than one customer using SharePoint you can create different virtual machines. Your SharePoint deployments won’t influence each other.
I use a 14" laptop as my working environment so I can carry it around since the weight is reasonable. It’s not that heavy but it has enough performance and extensibility regarding my work.
I don’t need any internet connection since all my virtual machines are in their own closed environment containing an Active Directory.
I recommend the following setup as a development environment since it worked best for me and my customers:
- Use a laptop so you are flexible where you work. You don’t depend on a certain server or domain or something else.
- Use at least 8-12GB RAM and an Intel Core i5 or i7.
- Use two physical disks with a 2nd hard drive caddy instead of the DVD drive:
- The first disk should be a SSD for your operating system.
- The second disk should be a 7200rpm disk with a minimum of 640GB to store your virtual images. I bought the Samsung Spinpoint MP4 HM640JJ 640GB and it works fast and reliable. Actually I wanted to get the Seagate Momentus 7200 750 GB but it wasn’t available when I needed it.
- Use Hyper-V instead of VMware Workstation. After using both during 2 years I recommend Hyper-V since it has a better performance. When saving the virtual machine Hyper-V is a lot faster than VMware Workstation.
This configuration has also some limitations: Resources are limited and you can’t build huge SharePoint farms. At the end you need to decide for your current situation what fits best for you. If you don’t want to use a laptop you can buy a desktop with lots of RAM (16-24 GB).
I suggest virtualizing your environment using one of the following:
Hyper-V is a role on Windows Server 2008 R2 / 2012 and can be activated using the server manager. This configuration had the best performance while running virtual machines or saving them. If you have the choice I suggest using Hyper-V.
Although I suggest Hyper-V I know that not every person is able to choose what to install on their working environment. VMware Workstation can be downloaded here and works with Windows 7. This configuration needed a lot more time to save images (maybe it was a wrong configuration).
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