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Troubleshooting Web Parts and Deployment

While SharePoint has become tremendously popular precisely because it makes so many laborious tasks so easy, deployment of Web parts can be surprisingly thorny. The trick lies in knowing what STSADM, the command line tool generally used for installing Web parts from a CAB file, is looking for and making sure it's all packaged up properly.

his isn't the article that I set out to write. While researching another article (coming soon) I soon realized there just isn't a lot of good material on how to troubleshoot Web part deployment, or even precisely how Web part deployment via STSADM even works. This article is designed to explain the moving parts of the deployment process and describe what can go wrong. Hopefully, it will help a few people get their implementations up and running more smoothly.

Why Deploy with STSADM?
Before getting too deeply involved in fixing STSADM Web part deployments, it's important to understand what STSADM is and why it's a good platform for troubleshooting Web part deployment.

STSADM is a 'utility knife' type of tool that ships as a part of Windows SharePoint Services. It does a wide range of things from site creation to Web part pack installation. If you have SharePoint Services, you already have this utility; it is typically found in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\60\Bin.

Alternative tools such as WPPackager just add additional complexity to the process by wrapping the installation in a Windows Installer file. Worse, these tools don't really gain you anything. At their core they're still using the same installation process by running STSADM or calling the Windows SharePoint Services object model calls that roughly equate to the STSADM options.

But whether you choose to download one of these tools or stick with the somewhat plain but very functional STSADM, learning how STSADM deploys Web parts is very valuable.

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