8 free SharePoint tools to make IT admins smile

These highly useful products help administer and configure SharePoint farms of various sizes.

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Microsoft SharePoint comes with a lot in the box, but many say the real strength of any software product is in the ecosystem that surrounds it. SharePoint is no exception, with many high-quality add-on products available from both Microsoft and third-party providers to enhance SharePoint and address some of its shortcomings.

Here are eight tools that are particularly useful in today’s landscape — plus a bonus product that’s practically free.

1. Marco Wiedemeyer’s SPDeployment command-line tool

Many enterprise IT shops develop SharePoint solutions — programs and applications that live inside SharePoint — but developers often have a hard time deploying their solutions to the right spots within the SharePoint hosting infrastructure, whether that is on-premises or up in Office 365. Who wants to keep all those details straight every time you make a change to a SharePoint solution?

Marco Wiedemeyer has developed an open-source tool that developers can run from the command line; it reads a standard JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) file, automatically puts files where they should be, and marks properties as they need to be. It handles the credentials of logging into SharePoint as well. You can even use it with multiple sites and environments and trigger deployments as granularly as your developers need. SPDeployment is hosted on GitHub, gets installed via the NuGet Package Manager (NPM), and works right from a command console. Free.

2. The SharePoint Online Management Shell

If you have worked with Microsoft server products for any length of time in the past few years, you know that PowerShell is the way to get things done from an administrative perspective. Microsoft’s SharePoint Online Management Shell is a preconfigured PowerShell environment that has called all of the SharePoint Online (Office 365) cmdlets into one safe space. You can do basically any SharePoint Online management tasks from here: create content packages to migrate file share data to SharePoint Online, create new document libraries, turn on and off external access to certain SharePoint sites, and on and on.

If you have even the slightest need to manage Office 365, then you should grab this shell — it is a virtual certainty that having it will make your life easier. Be sure to right-click it after installation and run it as administrator or essentially nothing will work. Free; runs on your local machine.

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