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Microsoft SharePoint Customization

What is Microsoft SharePoint?  

Before going into SharePoint customization, let’s first take an overview of what Microsoft SharePoint is. Microsoft SharePoint is a web- and cloud-based collaborative platform used to store, organize, share, and access information from any device. It was initially launched as a storage and document management system back in 2001. However, organizations use it for various purposes owing to its highly configurable nature.   

SharePoint is also available as part of the Microsoft Office 365 subscription, and you can natively integrate it with other Microsoft products.  

You can use SharePoint to build great websites. It is a platform that allows you to manage and share files with other team members in the company and create an internal intranet.   

SharePoint offers two different types of sites, communication sites, and team sites. Each type of site has its own set of templates that contains pre-populated content, pages, and web parts that you can also customize to fit your needs. One site can have multiple subsites and is called a site collection. Each site collection can have different permission/access levels and security. Moreover, every site has lists and libraries to organize data, which can be in the form of files or raw data.  

Why and How to Customize SharePoint  

Let’s discuss SharePoint customization now.   

Sometimes, you come across a problem or a situation whose resolution is not fully supported by the built-in features of the platform. It is during such cases that the need to customize SharePoint arises. So, how do you customize it?  

One of the ways you can customize SharePoint Online site features is through SharePoint web parts. Web parts are pieces of code that you can use as a plug-and-play feature. They are segmental units that form the fundamental building blocks of pages on SharePoint sites.  

All you need to do is install a web part that fulfills your requirements, and it will apply the customization.   

Creating SharePoint Web Parts  

The latest way to create a web part is through using SPFx, the SharePoint framework. You can use any JavaScript framework for SPFx, including the following:  

  • React  
  • Knockout  
  • Handlebars  
  • Angular   
  • Vue.js  

The developer toolchain for SPFx is based on popular open-source client development tools, such as:  

  • NPM  
  • TypeScript  
  • Yeoman  
  • Webpack  
  • Gulp  

You can use REST services for client-server communication. Moreover, you can use any code editor to develop a web part. Some of these tools are listed below:  

  • Visual studio code  
  • Atom  
  • WebStorm  

Let’s look at how you can create a project for creating a web part.   

Go to the directory where you have to create the project and run a Yeoman command to initialize the project.   

The Yeoman command will prompt a series of questions regarding the project’s name, type, and template. After executing this, Yeoman creates the project, and by running an npm install command, it installs the required dependencies.   

At this stage, you have to write the code necessary for customization. Once you have completed the project and wish to test it on your local machine, go to the project directory and locate and open the file ./config/serve.json.   

In this JSON file, change the value of the initial page according to the site you want to run this web part for.   

Type the command “gulp serve” to start the local web server and launch the hosted workbench, which executes a series of gulp tasks to create and start a local webserver. It will open the default web browser and load the hosted workbench to preview the web part.   

SPFx tools use Gulp – a command-line task runner for Node.js – as the task runner to handle build process tasks like:  

  • Transpiling TypeScript to JavaScript  
  • Compiling SASS with CSS  
  • Bundling and minifying JavaScript and CSS files  

You have to package it into a single file to install it on your SharePoint Online site. Two commands are required to create the package:  

  • gulp bundle –ship  
  • gulp package-solution –ship  

These commands will create a file with a .sppkg extension which will be installed on the SharePoint Online site to be available for all users.  

Benefits of SharePoint Customization  

 You can customize SharePoint to reap many benefits. Here are some significant advantages of customizing SharePoint features.  

  • Improved Workflow Benefits of SharePoint include those integrated with third-party tools like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. Such integration enables you to streamline many business processes and improve workflow efficiency.  
  • Increases Collaborative Efforts – Some employees find it challenging to use collaborative tools. However, SharePoint customization enables you to build a user-friendly interface that offers an enhanced user experience for your employees. It becomes convenient for them to use the platform, thus increasing collaboration.   
  • Makes Compliance Easy – Customizing SharePoint can help you comply with federal and state guidelines better. For example, a medical center can customize SharePoint to create a hybrid environment that connects its intranet and on-prem storage to the cloud so that it can store patient data on the cloud instead of on-premises, as the latter is not permissible.  
  • Site Consolidation – You can significantly lower your site administration costs by integrating your sites into one platform using SharePoint. It also makes it very convenient for users to access and manage data.  

Conclusion  

SharePoint customization is an excellent way of getting more out of the collaborative platform. It helps improve business process efficiency and encourages collaboration to drive business growth.   

Xavor offers SharePoint customization services – let us know your requirements, and we will do it for you. Contact us at [email protected] for further information. 

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