SharePoint 2013 RTM Developer Tools Face Debugging Issue

Despite the convenience of building apps, SharePoint 2013 RTMs developer tools have debugging issues for local sites.

Sure… you can build apps, but you can’t do everything you need to do… there are plenty of times where solutions, even sandboxed solutions, are still required. However there’s this annoying little issue with the current developer tools that have been provided for SharePoint 2013 RTM. After creating a project, you are prompted to enter a URL of a SharePoint site to use in debugging. This site must be a local site, but unfortunately the way the current release of the developer tools, Office & SharePoint 2013 Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 RTM - Preview 2 (how’s that for the longest product name ever?), determine if the site is local or not. I’ve tested the following on two different environments… one where everything was installed on one machine and another where everything was installed on two machines (AD domain controller & DNS on a separate box).

I created a site,, in a local site. The server has an IP set to I can navigate the site and hit it just fine… no internet connection on the box. However when I try to use this site as the debugging site in Visual Studio, I get this:

Cannot connect to the targeted site. This error can occur if the specified site is not hosted on the local system. SharePoint solutions work only with locally-installed versions of SharePoint Foundation or SharePoint Server. Remote development is supported only for apps for SharePoint 2013.

Well that’s just not correct… it is local. I tried going to DNS and entering a wildcard A record for * and pointed back to the local IP, but that didn’t work. I tried setting the IP of the DNS record to but same thing (all the while flushing DNS each time to ensure a local lookup). I even ran NSLOOKUP and it reported the IP was

The only fix was to update the local HOSTS file to point to the local machine. I know these aren’t the final developer tools, but come on… this is moving backwards from the tools we had before in SharePoint 2010 & Visual Studio 2010!

To help me with this, I use a little script to create site collections. After creating it it does two neat things:

  • Adds an entry to the Favorite Bar in IE so you have a quick bookmark to the site
  • Adds an entry to the hosts file

In my environment I’ve configured things to use host-named site collections to simplify my URLs and match what they do in Office 365. You can find the script on my company website: Critical Path Training. Once there navigate to the Members section. You’ll need to sign in (logins are free) after finding the list of Code Samples.

Andrew Connell
Developer & Chief Course Artisan, Voitanos LLC. | Microsoft MVP
Written by Andrew Connell

Andrew Connell is a web & cloud developer with a focus on Microsoft Azure & Microsoft 365. He’s received Microsoft’s MVP award every year since 2005 and has helped thousands of developers through the various courses he’s authored & taught. Andrew’s the founder of Voitanos and is dedicated to helping you be the best Microsoft 365 web & cloud developer. He lives with his wife & two kids in Florida.

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