Office/SharePoint Apps, Azure App. Pros/Cons Which Option Should I Choose?

From previous versions of SharePoint a very recurrent problem has been to introduce within SharePoint all sorts of Office/SharePoint Apps and applications, without looking if this type of application has to be on the platform or not. This causes misfiring, malfunction of SharePoint Farm, bad governance, discontent of users and abandonment of the platform.

Microsoft listening to all this user’s feedback introduced version 2010 solutions called “SANDBOX”, the idea was that you could develop applications within the context of solutions but on a separate SharePoint “box” and whose operation will not cause a failure in the farm. This was the theory, in practice the Sandbox solutions were very limited, they weren’t scalable and they caused failures in the farm. What caused that they will not be used and that in the next version of SharePoint is they declare deprecated by Microsoft.

Evolution of SharePoint Development

The alternative to this first attempt, was the model for developing Apps. This model tries to imitate the success of applications on mobile devices, and businesses to consume apps of the same form that a user does at a particular level. However, this model was created with many loopholes that have led to the adoption by the vast majority of companies. The main reason from my point of view it is necessary that you have your own infrastructure (either in the cloud or in your own infrastructure) which represents a cost that is very difficult to assume without knowing how much will be the return. However this development model unifies to be able to use the same programming language, the accommodation that you want, which may cause the number of SharePoint developers will increase considerably.

In the same way that Microsoft has been introducing the development model in SharePoint has been enhancing and improving your IAS and PASS (Microsoft Azure and Office 365) platform. This leads to that stage where before SharePoint was the key part passes to be somewhat eclipsed by the Cloud. So in the same way that the development model had raised for Office 365 is necessary to make use of SharePoint Online, Microsoft gives the ability to consume the services available on your productivity platform making use of authentication against an Active Directory in Azure and consuming REST services.

On the basis of this situation right now we have two options to extend Office:

  • SharePoint/Office Apps
  • Azure Apps

SharePoint/Office Apps

Depending on the way in which they are housed can be of two types: SharePoint Hosted or Provider Hosted.

The SharePoint Hosted is more limited, since they may not have server code and may only have HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. Its main use is in the form of Widget, to display information from other systems/applications.

The Provider Hosted: they are more complete applications and are characterized by the client puts your infrastructure to run. This infrastructure can be in their own premises or in the cloud

The benefits of this kind of applications are two:

  • Insulation on SharePoint
  • Freedom of development

Azure Apps

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More and more the Cloud is more present in our day to day, companies see the cloud as an ally which can get your requirement saving on costs and infrastructure. Starting from this premise Office 365’s main objective is consuming all their services from any platform and device:

Office/SharePoint Apps .net and azure

Although it may seem the same development model, it has a cast that characterizes it, in Office Apps the entry point to the same is SharePoint and they are used to extend the platform. Azure Apps entry point is the own application that uses the services in the cloud (Office 365, Azure…) the purpose is not to extend SharePoint but create applications that consume services.

When I choose them?

I think both models are fully compatible and necessary. Depending on the development environment and we can make use of them. If we want to do a SharePoint-based development, it is clear that we have that we must use the first type of applications. If I want to make a mobile application using the information that I have stored in OneDrive because obviously we will use Azure Apps.

The main common points:

  • Possibility of development on any platform
  • Possibility of staying in any provider

The main differences are:

  • Form of register the application. The Azure Active Directory authentication either register the App on SharePoint
  • Forms of access: a collection of site or through a shuttle
  • Way to authenticate: User/Password or Token of context

If you liked this blog then you will love this conference presentation by Juan Carlos Gonzalez Martin & Alberto Diaz Martin on SP Apps, New Dev Model, New App Store: The Office Store

About the Author: Adrián Díaz is MVP SharePoint Server since 2014. Cofounder of the SharePoint user group LevaPoint from Levante. He has beenAdrian Diaz Cevera developing with Microsoft technologies for over 10 years, and for the past 3 years, he is focused on SharePoint development. He currently works in the development department of ENCAMINA, an informatics consultancy from Valencia that stands out for making solutions based on Microsoft technology, mainly SharePoint.

You can follow Adrián on Twitter here!

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