Visual Studio 2010 has added a multitude of new features to make custom development on SharePoint 2010 much simpler that it was previously. Though Visual Studio 2010 does not include a simple wizard or other simpler process for creating Custom Actions, we can still take advantage of the simple packaging, debugging, and deployment features available for SharePoint 2010. In addition, Custom Actions point to custom application pages or other custom functions contained in the same Visual Studio solution.

You will need a development environment with SharePoint Foundation 2010 or SharePoint Server 2010 as well as Visual Studio 2010. Developing for SharePoint 2010 in Visual Studio 2010 requires you to run them both on the same machine (not your production server however). For information on setting up your development environment, see

To get started:

  • Create an “Empty SharePoint Project” in Visual Studio 2010:

    • Be sure to set the target framework to “.NET Framework 3.5″. SharePoint 2010 doesn’t support.NET Framework 4.0.
    • You have your choice of Visual Basic or Visual C#. I prefer C#, so all of my code examples will be in C#.
  • Specify the local site you are using for debugging (the one running on the local machine) and whether the solution will be sandboxed or a farm solution:

    • Custom Actions are available in Sandboxed Solutions, however, the available functionality will be limited.
  • Visual Studio does not have a template for Custom Actions. Instead you will have to create an Empty Element:
    • In the Solution Explorer, right click your solution name and Add > New Item:

  • Select Empty Element and provide your action with a name. The name is simply the file name, not how it will actually show up in SharePoint.

Now you have an empty Elements.xml file to create your Custom Action with:

For this example, paste the following in place of the existing content:

This simple Custom Action will add a link to Bing on the Site Actions menu. Now deploy your solution to SharePoint to test it:

  • Right click the Solution Name in the Solution Explorer and select Deploy:

  • Visual Studio will indicate when it has completed building and deploying the solution to your local SharePoint site:

  • Now navigate to your SharePoint site in a web browser. Under the Site Actions you will now have a link to Bing:

That is how a simple Custom Action is created. In upcoming articles I will demonstrate how to add Custom Actions to different parts of the SharePoint Interface, such as the Ribbon and Site Settings.

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