From Managing to Developing: The Next Step for a SharePoint Career

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So, you have your SharePoint environment configured and purring like a kitten. Managers compliment you on the huge improvement in collaboration, as well as the ability to access important information from anywhere. You’ve accomplished what few others can, congratulations!

Invariably, the usual questions will follow…

  1. Could the interface be customized with our company’s look?
  2. Can we integrate this with our other software?
  3. Could the process be streamlined so that it doesn’t require as much training?
  4. It works well as it is, but it would be a lot better if…

The answers to these questions often reach well beyond the traditional role of an admin and require that you wear your developer cap, at least for a while. But wait… you’re not a developer.

A successful transition to development is a multistage process that can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s easy enough to approach with a good plan and the right training. By earning your Microsoft MCSD: App Builder certification, you can prepare yourself to tackle the sometimes overwhelming complexities of SharePoint development. As a bonus, you are also establishing some valuable employment security. It’s no secret that SharePoint developers are a rare find right now!

Whether you operate a single system or SharePoint farm, you undoubtedly have countless hours invested in configuring your server environment to match your organization’s needs. This knowledge of SP’s logical structure gives you a big advantage when it’s time to move into development. You already have an in-depth understanding of how SharePoint works and what it means to your company.

In many cases, there are functions built into SharePoint that don’t require any code. It would be a waste to develop a custom solution when the power already exists within SharePoint itself. So, it’s a good idea to get a firm grasp on the development structure that is unique to SharePoint, such as the site collections, applications, portals, layers, and lists. You should also familiarize yourself with SharePoint’s editing tool, Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer. It supports a number of customization features that require no programming to implement.

You can deepen your knowledge with a couple of SharePoint-specific training courses. These courses put you on track to move into SharePoint development by ensuring that you have the level of understanding necessary to write efficient and effective code for SharePoint:

  1. The Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 70-331 course covers basic installation and configuration. Even if you already put much of this information into practice, you can benefit from the increased depth of understanding that this course provides.
  2. When you are ready to advance from SharePoint Padawan to Jedi Master, the more advanced Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 70-332 course will get you there! It’s great preparation for implementing and installing custom solutions, including business connectivity services to link SharePoint with your other data systems.

As a bonus, both of these courses prepare you for the associated Microsoft exams if you wish to add them to your MCSE: Productivity repertoire.

The next step toward an MCSD: App Builder certification is to obtain an MCSA: Web Applications or MCSA: Universal Windows Platform cert. You can choose either, as both are relevant for SharePoint development. In fact, it might be wise to go after both.

There are two exams required to obtain either MCSA certification, and you will need a fair amount of training and hands-on practice to gain an adequate understanding of ASP.NET or C# programming. Visual Studio allows you to download examples of SharePoint applications, and Microsoft provides walkthroughs covering a wide range of possible scenarios. With these educational tools, an experienced admin like yourself can hone your development skills in no time.

Once these steps are completed, you can finish your App Builder cert by passing the Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions exam. This exam focuses on using both programming and no-code solutions to perfectly customize a SharePoint installation to your organization’s needs.

The road to App Builder certification can be a very rewarding educational experience. Problems that once seemed unapproachable can now be solved with just a few lines of code. You can wear your new developer cap proudly as your company’s productivity soars!

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