SharePoint Online is offered as a collaboration and communications tool for organization’s Intranets. It offers the following types of functionality.

  • Collaboration
  • Portals
  • Search
  • Content Management
  • Business Process and Forms

In the standard version, we do not get all the functionality that we would if we implemented our own version of SharePoint on premise or if we subscribed to the Dedicated Version. Here’s a look at what we get and don’t get.

Collaboration  –

What we get:

  • Six default site templates (wiki, blog, team site, document workspace, blank, basic meeting) Surveys
  • People and Groups
  • Calendars
  • Issue Tracking
  • Document Collaboration
  • Site Admin templates

What we don’t get:

  • Presence awareness
  • social networking
  • Templates (all meeting templates except basic)
  • Site Templates (My Site, News Site, Internet Presence Site)
  • Templates requiring server side code
  • Server Admin Templates


What we get:

  • Client Integration
  • SharePoint Designer Integration
  • Audience Targeting to a SharePoint group
  • Portal Site templates
  • Site Manager
  • Site and Document Aggregation
  • Document Rollup Web Part
  • Mobile Device Support

What we don’t get:

  • My Sites
  • Audience targeting to distribution groups or the ability to create audiences
  • Membership web parts
  • User Profiles Import
  • Back and Restore via SP Designer

Content Management

What we get:

  • Document Information and Panel Bar
  • Site Authoring
  • Master Pages, Page Layouts, navigation controls
  • Some retention and auditing policies
  • Three State Workflow and all standard document workflows
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • Standard Publishing Site Templates: Collaboration and Publishing
  • Site Variations

What we don’t get:

  • Content Staging, Publishing and Deployment
  • Standard enterprise site templates
  • Records repository and legal holds
  • Email content as records


What we get:

  • Search within site collection
  • Security trimmed results
  • Configurable scope

What we don’t get:

  • Cross collection search
  • Enterprise content sources
  • People Search
  • Search Federation
  • Business Data Search

Business Process and Forms

What we get:

  • Form Libraries
  • Custom no-code workflows

What we don’t get:

  • Custom workflows that are coded
  • Browser-based forms
  • SharePoint Server OOTB workflows

Customization Capabilities

Probably one of the most important questions we may have about using SharePoint Online is what can we customize. We can do customizations, but we are limited to customizing only what doesn’t require coding.

SharePoint Designer is the tool to use to customize our SharePoint Online site. With it we can:

  • Create no-code workflows
  • Modify and create master pages, page layouts
  • Create content types and taxonomy
  • Create custom site templates
  • Use the Data Form Web Part to create mashups of SharePoint data or other data brought in using Web Services
  • Create InfoPath Forms – no code allowed

If we are using Visual Studio to build custom web parts, features or workflows, then we don’t want SharePoint Online:

  • No in-line code is allowed, including code in InfoPath Forms or custom coded workflows
  • Can’t create features, site definitions, web parts, solutions – anything that requires something be installed and configured on the server.
  • we also can’t modify SharePoint files, web.config settings or security
  • No custom database modifications
  • No configuration changes that affect the web server or the .NET framework

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