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Jaime López
Jaime López

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From Out-of-the-Box to Customized Solutions: The Many Faces of SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online is a cloud-based platform that provides a powerful suite of tools for collaboration, document management, and business process automation. Built on top of Microsoft's Office 365 platform, SharePoint Online offers a range of features and capabilities that can be used to build custom solutions that meet specific business needs.

One of the key strengths of SharePoint Online is its extensibility options. There are four types of extensibility available for SharePoint Online components: standard capabilities, configuration, customization, and custom development.

SharePoint Online Extensibility options

My name is Jaime López and I have been working as a developer and architect for more than 20 years. If you like this article click on the heart, if you like the Substack subscribe, and if you want to enrich the content add comments.

Standard capabilities

Standard capabilities are the out-of-the-box features that SharePoint Online offers. While these features can be used as they are, they often need to be extended or customized to meet specific business requirements. Standard capabilities can be leveraged to create a range of solutions that help streamline processes and improve collaboration.

Some examples of standard capabilities in SharePoint Online include:

  • Content contribution: SharePoint Online includes a range of tools for contributing and managing content, such as the "Documents" library, and "Site Pages" library. These tools provide a way for users to create and share content with others in the organization.

  • Content security management: SharePoint Online includes pre-defined security groups that can be used to manage access to sites and resources. These groups provide a standard set of permissions that can be customized to meet specific security requirements.

  • Content sharing: SharePoint Online provides various features to enable content sharing, such as sharing links, and email invitations.


Configuration is an easy way to extend SharePoint Online components by making changes to the platform's settings and configuration data without modifying the component's structure. Typically, administrators of the SharePoint Online site can make these changes. A configuration is a powerful tool that can help tailor SharePoint Online to meet specific business needs.

Examples of configuration capabilities in SharePoint Online include:

  • Look & feel: SharePoint Online provides a range of options for customizing the look and feel of sites, such as changing the site theme, adding logos, and modifying the color scheme.

  • Title & description: Administrators can modify the site title and description to make it more descriptive and informative.

  • Regional and language settings: SharePoint Online allows administrators to customize regional and language settings, such as the default time zone, date format, and language for the site. This can help ensure that the site meets the needs of users in different regions and countries.

  • Navigation menu: Administrators can customize the global navigation menu to include links to important pages, sites, and resources. This can help users easily access the content they need and improve overall site navigation.


Customization is a type of extensibility for SharePoint Online that involves extending the capabilities of existing components by building new solution components or modifying the structure of existing ones. This type of extensibility does not require programming language skills and is therefore ideal for citizen developers, such as business consultants or trained customer power users.

Examples of customization capabilities in SharePoint Online include:

  • Custom lists and libraries: SharePoint Online provides default lists and libraries, but users can create custom ones that are tailored to their specific business needs. For example, a user might create a custom list to track customer feedback or a custom library to manage project documents.

  • Custom views: Users can customize the way data is displayed in SharePoint Online by creating custom views. For example, a user might create a custom view to display only the most recent documents in a library.

  • Custom pages: Users can create custom pages in SharePoint Online to display content that is not part of a list or library. For example, a user might create a custom page to display a company-wide announcement.

  • Custom security groups: SharePoint Online provides default security groups, but users can create custom ones that are tailored to their specific business needs. For example, a user might create a custom security group to provide access to a specific list or library.

Custom development

Custom development is the most advanced type of SharePoint Online extensibility, which requires the use of programming or scripting languages to extend the platform's capabilities. This type of extensibility typically falls under the domain of IT professional developers who possess in-depth IT knowledge.

Examples of custom development capabilities in SharePoint Online include:

  • Developing web parts using TypeScript or JavaScript: Web parts are modular components in SharePoint Online that can be used to display information or functionality on a page. Users can create custom web parts using programming languages such as TypeScript or JavaScript to meet specific business needs.

  • Custom formatting views using JSON format: Users can customize the way data is displayed in SharePoint Online by creating custom formatting views using JSON, a lightweight data interchange format. This allows users to tailor the appearance of lists and libraries to meet specific business needs.

  • Custom forms: SharePoint Online provides default forms for adding and editing list items and documents, but users can create custom forms that are tailored to their specific business needs. For example, a user might change an existing form to include additional fields for tracking specific information.

Other ways of extensibility

In addition to these extensibility options, SharePoint Online also offers a range of other features and capabilities that can be used to create custom solutions. For example, SharePoint Online's integration with Microsoft Power Platform enables organizations to build custom business process automation solutions that connect with other Microsoft products like Power BI and Dynamics 365.


In conclusion, SharePoint Online is a powerful platform that offers a range of features and capabilities for building custom solutions. By leveraging the platform's standard capabilities, configuration options, customization capabilities, and custom development capabilities, organizations can build powerful solutions that meet their unique needs. With the right approach and expertise, SharePoint Online can be a valuable tool for driving business success.

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