Recomended starting point for creating custom SharePoint Online workflows with Visual Studio

Not typical question here on StackExchange, but hopefully somebody can point in the right direction to get started.

I currently use SPD 2010 to create many workflows on our On Premise instance of SP2010.
I have a small number of custom workflow actions installed from codeplex as farm solutions that add actions that allow me to apply custom permissions to list and library items.

I am currently looking to move our SharePoint environment Online and think I should really start looking at creating my workflows in Visual Studio, otherwise I feel I will loose many of the capabilities I currently use.

I am struggling to find some good general starting guides in getting started.

I’ve never used Visual Studio with SharePoint before and the project types I find all seem to require me to have a local install of SP, is this still the case for developing for SP Online?

I do have programming experience, but its with C++, so a good general guide with samples would be very useful as I have limited exposure to JavaScript.

I know a full start to finish guide is too much to ask for on here, but if anyone know of a good resource, or a collection of good resources that would be great.

I think something that may be confusing me are the new terms for things, in VS2012 I see project templates for ‘SharePoint Solutions’, but also ‘App for SharePoint 2013’, are workflows for SharePoint 2013 Online created through the App template?

Also, we currently have a SharePoint 2013 Online environment to work with, and I have Visual Studio 2012, but could just as easily install VS 2013 if more suitable.



1 Answer


SharePoint custom development can be performed using various tools. Some of them are

Using SharePoint Designer – You open the site, then customize it using various features
Using the SharePoint Site – Site comes with the ribbon controls which can be leveraged
Using text editor – You can download file, modify and then upload
Using Visual Studio – You create solution and deploy, activate

In SharePoint 2013 Microsoft introduced the new APP model. The main advantage of this Model is that it takes away the server side deployments (which caused small to major issues with the farm because it has full control etc.)

Here is a guide which helps you get started

For creating workflows you can use the APP model or you can use SharePoint Designer.

Visual Studio

If you are building complex workflows which can’t be developed using SPD then your only option is to create an APP.

In online visual studio workflows you loose the ability of using code behind. You should use RESTFUL services which returns data in JSON format.

For more information read

Here is an msdn article



This answer focuses very very little on workflow development. It is not really targeted to answer the question.
– Robert Lindgren♦
Jan 19 ’15 at 11:58