Visual Studio extensions for Windows SharePoint Services

Hello all,

My name's Alex Malek, I'm a Lead PM on the SharePoint Designer team. During my day job, I focus on the workflow experience in SharePoint and SPD. However, for the last year or so, I've been working on a little side project called the "Visual Studio extensions for Windows SharePoint Services" (VSeWSS). Simply put, VSeWSS is all about making developers more productive on SharePoint. This last week, we released our first version, which you can download here: link. As with many v1’s, this release doesn’t do everything, but it’s a first step on the road to having great dev tools for SharePoint.

The VSeWSS installer consists of two pieces: 1) an add-in to Visual Studio that adds some SharePoint-specific project templates (e.g. Web Part, Site Definition, Content Type, etc.) and 2) a little utility program, called the SharePoint Solution Generator, which enables you to take site "instances," customized in SPD and the browser, and convert them into site definitions, which you can then continue editing in VS.

In short, our goal with VSeWSS was to "make F5 work" for the most common SharePoint objects, such Web Parts. Fortunately, we got a bit farther than that - over the next few weeks, I'll blog a little about how to use VSeWSS for some of more advanced scenarios it support, e.g. creating content types with event handlers.

Thanks, alex

Comments (51)

  1. Maarten says:

    Great job! But um… why won’t it install unless I have WSS3.0 on the localhost dev machine? I try to keep my dev box and my server separate.

  2. Ishai Sagi says:

    Alex – thanks for sharing, and thanks for the solution. MVPs know this "make F5 work" will save a lot of questions in the msdn forums…

    There is one thing people keep asking in the forum and I was hoping one of you gueys will answer (and Maarten mentioned it) – most of the developers keep expecting it to work on development workstations, with windows xp (or vista) installed.

    I feel it is important that you clear this issue and explain the supported development methods to develop for sharepoint.

  3. Eric Bartels says:

    Nice tools, but as Maarten stated out, why do I need to have WSS installed on my Dev-Machine? Is there a trick to avoid this (copy Sharepoint-DLL’s to GAC or any registry settings?)

  4. anony.muos says:

    Hello, I came across this blog recently. Please tell me this: do SharePoint Designer and Expression Web use the same underlying rendering engine? Also, is it true that this engine is different from IE’s Trident?

  5. Annie says:

    Same as Maarten said.

    For security, server performance and license reason, it’s better to seperate dev box and server.

    However, I couldn’t install VSeWSS into my XP dev. box.

    Although the sample code can be compiled in VS by copying SharePoint.dll to my XP, I found lots of difficulties to just understand the code without a proper tool in VS.

    I am hoping MS to release a non-WSS-depended (XP/Vista) version of VSeWSS.

    To Eric Bartels: Go to!76596824C411964C!142.entry , follow "problem one" (A) and (B), then you can compile the code in XP, but nothing else other than code compiling and workflow designer.

  6. Mercury says:

    I agree with everyone who wants an XP-friendly version. This seems like a big limitation to me. Any word from the Sharepoint team on plans for an XP release?

  7. Seth Flowers says:

    "it’s a first step on the road to having great dev tools for SharePoint"… you are correct. Unfortunately the journey is still 1000 miles.. developing for sharepoint is nowhere near great. It is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    It is ridiculous that it is necessary to have sharepoint installed to be able to develop for it. ( not to mention 2003 )

    I am not going to copy dll’s to my XP machine just to be able to use the API and build, and then copy that build to a 2003 sharepoint server just to run it. It is not feasible to develop code for a corporation when it is impossible to debug the code. It is also not feasible to jointly develop an application with several developers remotely using the same server for development.

    Where is the MSDE, the Express, the Casini…

    Sharepoint is definitely not developer friendly. I am not an MS hater. I gladly develop using .Net.

    Search anywhere on the web, you will see loads of developers with the same gripes. It is amazing to me that this has not been addressed.

  8. Oli says:

    aaaaaaaGHHH – neeed win2003 to develop for Sharepoint on my **DEV** machine πŸ™   πŸ™   πŸ™   πŸ™   πŸ™   πŸ™


  9. George says:

    Why dont you reply to all the above dear Alex? We developers still use Windows Xp….

  10. Steve says:

    It’s extremely disappointing to run Win2k3 on a developer’s machine just to be able to develop for MOSS and it’s even more disappointing that VSeWSS developer has nothing to add here.  This is the MS way to deal with the community.  Unless you’re an MVP or something similar MS will not listen, as always.  It’s a shame…

  11. Alex Malek says:

    hey guys, sorry for the slow response. Per the comments above:

    SPD and Expression: yup, these share the same "editor" technology, though it is not related to the Trident engine.

    Requiring Win2k3: I feel your pain :). It really came down to feasibility – we interact with the SharePoint Server Object Model during "F5 Deploy", as well as in the Solution Generator. Those APIs can not currently be "remotely" accessed. We hope to work with WSS to add those APIs as web services in a future release.


    Alex Malek

    PM – SharePoint Designer

  12. Matt says:

    How long untill this happens?  I have the most unfortunate task of developing WSS for my company.  I have to RDP from my dev box to a dev 2k3 server to use VS 2005.  Anyone ever NOT resize a table in VS when you didnt want to?.  Try it through RDP on a 2k3 server.  My experience so far with this has been horrible.  I truly hope a solution comes soon.  My productivity has taken a major hit……………..

  13. Rod says:

    I have to develop with sharepoint for my company as well, we have 2 servers, a file server, and an ‘everything else’ server, doing exchange, sql, iis, dhcp, firewall etc etc I won’t be allowed to install VS on it, and I don’t really want to operate in a live environment as our business loses money if I make an error in my code.

    What options do I have? As far as I can tell, I could wipe my laptop of XP and install my copy of windows server 2003…. not an option for me. I could setup another computer on my desk with windows 2003 and install wss 3 on that and develop on that, then what happens when I want to make it ‘live’ on the other server? I’m new to this and am not sure if it is possible for me to copy across the changes?

    What about virtual PC… is this an option? Could I install MS virtual PC on my XP box, and run windows 2003 off that, install wss and vstudio on that…. how will this perform? is it going to take ages to start up, and use lots of disk space( only have 120gb hd, with only 20 or so gigs left), how easy is it to develop in that?

    Thank you for these tools, I’ve been reading the MSDN article on an introduction to it and I’m excited about the prospects, however it said I could develop on my XP box and then transfer stuff to the server, but when I went to make the first walkthrough (‘hello world web part’) I couldn’t click on the sharepoint solution tab… so obviously the walkthrough is meant for running it on the server itself.


    Rod Howarth

  14. ceyeber62 says:

    Same problem here, and as far as I am concerned this is a dead technology as I don’t see many people installing VS on server machines (the idea itself seems ridiculous) for development purposes.

    I hope MS comes to it senses and takes this problem seriously as I am very keen on getting to grips with Sharepoint development.

  15. Sowmya says:

    Hi Alex,

    A quick question here. The SSG(SharePoint Solution Generator) does not seem

    to be taking any parameters. My requirement is from a .NET Application

    can i invoke SSG by passing the that the users need not invoke

    SSG and select the options.

  16. Mike Sharp says:

    I would say that if you don’t have a separate desktop running Win2K3, or a dedicated development server, then either use VirtualPC/Virtual Server or the VMWare equivalent, and develop on that.  You should have some sort of test and deployment process for your work anyway–developing on production hardware is a bad idea.  Virtual machines are a convenient way to set up separate test and maintenance environments, so that development can continue while testing of a release is underway.

    If you have an MSDN license, you can build a library of base images of different kinds, sysprep each one, and store them.  Setting up a new environment for development is then simply a matter of copying the base image to a working directory, starting the machine, running through a mini-setup that takes a couple minutes (and run the database sproc if SQL Server runs on that image).

    It may not be as convenient as developing directly on your workstation desktop, but it can work just fine.  You can run a number of virtual machines on a single workstation, if you have plenty of memory.


    Mike Sharp

  17. Ray Ranson says:

    There are many options still available for SharePoint development. Yes it is odd to still develop this way – not much has changed in the IDE approach to .NET web dev since Interdev and VB.NET 2002.

    As far as the limitations of having to develop on a Win Server 2003 / VS 2005 stack, the MOSS / WSS 2007 solutions framework allows for much more flexible dev-to-prod deployment scenarios. There’s a lot to cover here so I won’t even begin to cover the features.

    Developing in a Virtual PC / Server environment actually provides a much more flexible, and sometimes robust, configuration environment for SharePoint. See or Roy Osherove for blog and general info on using "Virtual PC’s Differencing Disks to your Advantage."

    So the idea is the developer actually conducts solution development within the Microsoft Virtual PC running SharePoint Server 2007. Yes, developers must have their own virtual computers running SharePoint Server 2007 to use during application development but this configuration provides developers with a SharePoint Server 2007 server to conduct development, deployment, and testing of assemblies (such as Web Parts, SharePoint Server object definitions, and so on), without interrupting or infringing upon the efforts of other developers working on the overall solution on a single shared dev server.

    Looking at the overall view ( ) of holistic and coordinated team development SharePoint, it all makes sense. Read the "conclusions" sections of the two referenced articles. Or at least begins to anyway…. πŸ™‚

  18. Alex Malek says:

    Ya, a virtual PC is definitely the way to go if you can’t put SharePoint on your local machine. I definitely hear your pain on this topic, and it’s something we’ll look at closely for subsequent releases. As i mentioned earlier, it’s a tough technical problem. Likely, we would need changes from SharePoint (e.g. new remote APIs) in addition to changing VSeWSS.

    Sowmya, I don’t believe the Solution Generator currently takes parameters. I’ll add this to our list of feature suggestions.


    Alex Malek

    Program Manager – SharePoint

  19. Greetings all, Alex Malek here, PM for SharePoint Designer. I’m pleased to announce that today we released

  20. [Cross-posted from the SharePoint Designer Team Blog .] Greetings all, Alex Malek here, PM for SharePoint

  21. Andrew says:

    When will this be available for 64bit servers?


  22. Alex Malek says:

    Unfortunately, 64-bit is not in scope at the moment. Along with support for WinXP/Vista, this is at the very top of our list of pain points we hope to address in subsequent releases.


    Alex Malek

  23. VSeWSS has been revised and a new CTP is available here . For those not familiar with VSeWSS, you can

  24. "I have the most unfortunate task of developing WSS for my company" – heh! An excellent comment.

    SharePoint isn’t what I spend most of my time doing, but I am seeing it more and more.

    I think SharePoint, on the whole, is a terrible piece of software (like most of the dynamics stuff). As a web application, it is very poorly implemented. But that’s not the point here, the point is that there is nothing that would stop WSS running on Windows XP, except for Microsoft’s desire to sell more Windows Server and artificially lock things down.

    Greed is a really poor excuse for making our lives more difficult.

    Let us install WSS on XP. That way, we can develop and test without needing a virtual image. You’ll make lots of friends.

    There is no technical reason why WSS will not run on XP.

  25. Gavin Barron says:

    People really… you dev on XP???

    Work on the target platform is all I have to say about that, it saves plenty of headaches, not to mention the single website pain.

    Regarding the Visual Studio Extension for SharePoint Development, they are fantastic! Thank you so much, the F5 deploy is brilliant.

    I’d like to see that the scripts that are used to generate the packages included in the project though and not hidden while you’re in VS. Also a standalone ‘Feature’ project could be useful.

  26. NinethSense says:

    I agree with Gavin Barron. Always it is good to develop in target platform and ‘version’.

    I use Virtual PC in my machine since I hate dual boot ;).

  27. Sergio Florez says:

    Well, it only manes sense to develop in teh target platform if it doesn’t usually change or if your product is platform specific. If you’re exclusively a WSS developer then it makes sense to put your VS on a Windows Server. If on the other hand WSS is only one of your tasks then it probably doesn’t make much sense.

  28. Hello all, Alex Malek here, PM for the "Visual Studio extensions for Windows SharePoint Services".

  29. Hello all, Alex Malek here, PM for the "Visual Studio extensions for Windows SharePoint Services"

  30. alex# says:

    Disclaimer Ce post est une "traduction" du blog SharePoint, le message d’origine est consultable ici

  31. RickHunter says:

    Why first version of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Tools: Visual Studio 2005 Extensions works on Windows XP and latest version doesn’t?????????

  32. Garenovich says:

    Why first version of Visual Studio extensions for Windows SharePoint Services works on Windows XP and later versions doesn’t????

  33. It kind of took them some time. Some of you might remember my old (ish) post (

  34. Alex Malek says:

    Rick, Garenovich – unfortunately, version 1.0 did not support XP either. Might you have been using a different tool – perhaps something from the community?

    The reason we don’t support XP is that the extensions depend heavily on the sharepoint object model, for reading values, pushing the solution package up, etc.

    sorry about the confusion.


    Alex Malek


  35. Verician says:

    Everyone moans about needing Server 2003 on the dev machine, why not just run a virtual machine and develop in that for MOSS?

  36. Garenovich says:

    Alex, could it be a beta version, it was "Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for Windows SharePoint Services" and i have installed it in my Windows XP, the file is named VSeWSS.msi and the size is 1,81 MB, i download it from microsoft web. But it’s true that i have to copy sharepoint dll to build the solutions.


  37. Sherrie says:

    I’m not sure i got the right part of this blog thing, but i’m having issues connecting to a sharepont site using vista. I can access it from my machine that is running xp professional home. but when i try to access it using vista I get web page can not be displayed. This is starting to be a real big pain in the butt.  Can you please tell me how to get it to access the web site

  38. Owner Blog says:

    It kind of took them some time. Some of you might remember my old (ish) post (

  39. John Mc says:

    So to use the Extensions, the developers need Win 2k3 Server running on a virtual machine?

    That would require a server license for each developer and is without a doubt the most ridiculous concept for a set of development tools that I have ever heard.

  40. Aaron says:

    Have to agree with all of the others.  We do have a dev and prod servers but we can not remote desktop inot either and the only way this solution would work is if we could do that and VS 2005 were on the boxes.  I could only imagine how intensive of a load that would be on a shared dev box if all developers were having to remote into the box and develop on the box itself.  We could certainly do virtual machines although some of how boxes are way sluggish when you try to run Windows 2003 WSS 3.0 but the  bigger issue would be the licenses needed for this.

    What I am curious about though is what about extensions for Visual Studio 2008?

  41. Alphonso says:

    Will there be any new release of WSS that could be installed on WinXP for development purpose

  42. Lee says:


    Many thanks for you and your teams supreme efforts building the extensions, this really is excellent, F5 deployment is a killer and the new WSP view is super cool.

    Can you tell me if there is a support forum for the extension or should I just post here?



  43. Ivan says:

    I seem to have broken my ability to publish to SharePoint from InfoPath after installing Visual Studio Extensions for WSS v1.1. I had this same problem with v1.0 but was able to fix by simply uninstalling. This does not work with v1.1.

    I am running this on Windows XP. The error that I get is "The following URL is not valid: …" when trying to publish an InfoPath 2007 form to MOSS 2007 running InfoPath Forms Services. I’m not sure how these are connected.

    I’ve tweaked my registry to allow installation on XP ( and to try cleaning the Server Cache at "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice12.0CommonInternetServer Cache"


    Any ideas on how to get InfoPath working again? I no longer need VSE on my local machine.


  44. William says:

    I am tasked with setting up an environment for our developers to use the VSE to develop for WSS/MOSS.  I don’t want to use VPC for the obvious reasons and I am wondering if anyone has successfully deployed MOSS, Visual Studios and the extensions on a Terminal Server?  

    Please reply with any other suggestions for creating a centralized environment for developing on MOSS with VSE.


  45. Looking forward to seeing VSeWSS 1.2 for VS 2008.  Will the first iteration be a CTP?  The lack of VSeWSS for VS 2008 is a serious impediment to fully moving over to VS 2008 for custom MOSS workflow development.  My most important need is automatic wsp generation that automatically includes InfoPath workflow association, intialization and task forms, just like the current VSeWSS does for VS 2005.

  46. SDKs and development tools SharePoint Server 2007 SDK: Software Development Kit Revised and updated August

  47. shillers says:

    @John Mc

    Development and staging do not require that the server software be licensed.

    Don’t you have an MSDN subscription? If not, I suggest that you get one. They are a pretty good deal for the price.

  48. GuyO says:

    Can someone give us an update on the extensiosns for VS2008. Hey MSFT — fund this development and get it out the door, the lack of the extensions is slowing down the adpotion of VS2008 and Office 12 — I’m not going to switch my dev environments back and forth to get the best of both worlds.

    The features of VSeWSS should have been rolled into VS2008 in the firstplace or in a planned SP — Hand jamming features for content types and lists is about the most tedious and  activity on the planet  – ’tis a shame that I have to install TWO dev environments on me dev box to be able to do it.

  49. Rohit says:

    I just want to add the microsoft.sharepoint.dll on windows xp machine (non sharepoint server)

  50. Criaig says:

    Just want to agree that you all must be crazy to still be developing on XP.  It’s not even got IIS6!!!!  It’s a shocking environment for development..I’ve been using 2003 server as a dev desktop for four years and would never go back to XP for dev.

  51. Ogden says:

    Link say's We are sorry, the page you requested cannot be found.

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