Setting up a Development Environment for SharePoint Online
To be able to customize your SharePoint Online environment for Office 365, you first need to set up a development environment locally. Some of the changes to your online environment can be made directly to the SharePoint Site Collections and pages in your online environment without the need for a local development environment. However, there are other customizations that can be deployed to your SharePoint Office 365 Site Collections only by way of a specialized packaged solution file. These solution files can be constructed using Visual Studio 2010 (and later editions). A local environment helps avoid the necessity of direct production changes without the ability to experiment and refine solutions.
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