Virtual Web Part Development with SharePoint

With all this talk about Virtual User Groups, I somehow got down this path and wanted to say that there is one and only one (IMHO) way to develop web parts for SharePoint (at least that's the conclusion I've come to). Virtual PC 2004 kicks for this. I was able to take the time to get a new Virtual image setup and decided to get a new SharePoint environment setup in it. With the recent update to Virtual PC, Microsoft has made it a little better (and faster) for this.

The install of Windows 2003 Server was smooth and getting Windows SharePoint Services running was a breeze. Basically:

  • Create a new Virtual PC image through the wizard
  • Pop in a Windows 2003 Server CD (I'm using Enterprise edition but whatever works for you)
  • Run the install (takes about an hour on a 2Ghz machine with 2GB of memory). You don't need a domain so just create a workgroup for it.
  • Once the install is done, make it a web server through the Manage Your Server setup screen
  • Download Windows SharePoint Services from here and run the setup (10 minutes)
  • Set your IIS to allow anonymous on the Default Web Site and set SharePoint to allow anonymous users by default as Readers
  • Install Visual Studio .NET and optionally MSDN (another hour)

That's about it and Bob's your uncle. I only had to give it 400MB of memory in the settings and it runs well for running, administration, and debugging. The nice thing is that my local machine sees it (even though it's on a different workgroup than my box) and I can ping it and surf to it by name. Makes for great testing and developing because I can come in as a regular user and since it's running in Workgroup mode there's a Sign In button so I can become whoever I want for testing (Contributor, Admin or a user in a custom group). Much easier than when you're running on a domain with integrated authentication and you pretty much have God access to everything. I also don't have to worry about domains and that whole mess. Note that this setup is for WSS, SPS does require a domain to operate on but you can develop web parts on this environment and use them on SharePoint, you just can't use the SharePoint features like search, etc.

Try it out if you've got the resources as it makes for a nice easy development setup. Debugging web parts has to be done on the server but that's what the install of Visual Studio is for and the speed is quite acceptable. Also there's a good site here on what OSes work (and what don't) under Virtual PC if you're looking on setting up different configurations (I have a Debian setup as well for some Linux development, nothing like a disposable machine!)


  • "SPS does require a domain" is not entirely true. You can actually install SPS in workgroup mode and use local machine accounts for access, but it's not supported (by Microsoft obviously) and is not recommended unless in a demonstration capacity. I've used that setup a lot when I just wanted an environment to quickly develop/test a few web parts. But to experience the full capabilities of the product, then it's important that it be installed/configured in a domain environment.

  • I'm having trouble getting my Sharepoint to run on MS Virtual PC 2004 (build 582).

    I start by installing the Application Server (IIS and ASP.NET) and SQL Server 2000 sp3.

    Then when installing Sharepoint I get to the part where mapping to the SQL Server, but then the install breaks (on the webpage localhost:9747/sps/FarmDatabase.aspx) when I try to logon with my administrative account.

    Now, I think I've tried a lot ... reinstalling Sharepoint, setting up a domain ... nothing works, I can't get logged in to the website.

    Do you have any suggestions/ideas? I would much appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance


Comments have been disabled for this content.