Is there an app for that? We’ve all heard the saying and probably have even asked it ourselves when trying to get something done. Apps are everywhere, on our smartphones, tablets, and now with SharePoint 2013 comes SharePoint apps. Apps allow SharePoint users to customize and configure more than ever before. SharePoint apps can also deliver specific functions to users that you couldn’t get out of a normal SharePoint 2013 installation. So without futher ado, here are some tips and tricks to getting started with apps in SharePoint 2013.
SharePoint apps are typically small, standalone packages that provide a function, like event planning, that solves a particular problem. Apps can be developed using any of the various web standards and do not use any server side SharePoint code. They run independently from SharePoint therefore it doesn’t change any of the SharePoint elements and can be installed, updated, or even uninstalled without affecting your main SharePoint farm resulting in less outage for the users.
Apps running on a SharePoint 2013 farm use a different domain name than the SharePoint farm, so it’s key to properly assess the implementation of using apps and how they impact your current infrastructure. When an app is installed in a SharePoint site it creates a subweb on that site with its own unique URL on a different domain name. The reason for the isolation on a different domain is to add a layer of security to prevent any cross scripting between sites and allowing the processes to run independently without affecting the main SharePoint site.
Once you have determined that you want to use apps in SharePoint 2013 you will need to do some planning to build the correct infrastructure that will support apps. Apps can be hosted in the cloud by Microsoft’s SharePoint app store, by hosted providers, or it can be hosted internally in your own network. When apps are hosted by a provider or are cloud hosted, anything related to that app is maintained on those servers. However, if an app is hosted on a SharePoint in your network it’s stored in the subweb of that SharePoint site.
Regardless of which hosting option you choose, there are key lists of items that need to be reviewed or completed so the apps will work in your SharePoint environment.
Apps for SharePoint can bring some additional functionality to your SharePoint 2013 farm that may not have been easily available in previous version. Deploying apps in SharePoint 2013 can be complex, but with proper planning it can be successfully done.