Host webs, add-in webs, and SharePoint components in SharePoint

When an add-in that includes SharePoint components is installed on a website, it is listed on the Site Contents page from which it can be launched. That listing, which is the launch point of the add-in, is the only required addition to the website, although certain other things can optionally be added, such as a custom action or an add-in part. For information about these options, see Accessing the add-in from the UI.

Host webs, add-in webs, and the isolated domain

Other than these UI elements, the SharePoint Add-in components and content, such as lists, content types, workflows, and pages, are deployed to a different website in a special isolated domain. This fact is largely hidden from the user. The special website to which the add-in is deployed is called an add-in web. The website to which the add-in is installed is called the host web. Although the add-in web has its own isolated domain, it is in the same site collection as the host web. (One exception to this rule is when the add-in is installed with tenant scope. In that scenario, the add-in web is in the site collection of the corporate add-in catalog.)

Figure 1 shows a host web with two SharePoint Add-ins installed. Add-in 1 has remote components, but no SharePoint components, so it has no add-in web. Add-in 2 has no remote components, but it has two SharePoint lists and a workflow. These have been deployed to an isolated subsite (a SharePoint Add-in can have both remote and SharePoint-hosted components, although neither add-in in this diagram has both).

Figure 1: Host web with a provider-hosted add-in and a SharePoint-hosted add-in

Host web, app web, and their components.

For example, suppose that an add-in, with SharePoint components beyond just the UI elements that can be deployed to a host web, is installed on a host website at the following URL:

`https://www.fabrikam.com/sites/Marketing`

The SharePoint Add-in will be deployed to a newly created website with a URL like the following:

`http://add-in-bdf2016ea7dacb.fabrikamadd-ins.com/sites/Marketing/Scheduler`

Note that this URL has the following structure:

`https://` _Add-in_Prefix_ `-` _Add-in_ID_ `.` _Add-in_Base_Domain_ `/` _Domain_Relative_URL_of_Host_Web_ `/` _Add-in_Name_

The placeholders are defined as follows:

  • Add-in_Prefix is any string set by the farm administrator in Central Administration. The default is "default." In this example the administrator has changed this to "add-in."

  • Add-in_ID is a hexadecimal number generated internally when the add-in is installed.

  • Add-in_Base_Domain is any string set by the farm administrator in Central Administration or with SharePoint Management Shell. This should not be set to a subdomain of the SharePoint web application or the purpose of add-in isolation is largely defeated. In this example, the administrator has removed the "www." and added "add-ins" to the company name. So fabrikamadd-ins.com is the add-in base domain.

  • Domain_Relative_URL_of_Host_Web is the relative URL of the parent host web, in this case sites/Marketing.

  • Add-in_Name is the value of the Name attribute of the App element in the appmanifest.xml file.

There are two primary reasons why SharePoint components are deployed to add-in webs, rather than the host web. Both are related to security.

  • Enforcement of add-in permissions: In the model for SharePoint Add-ins, an add-in has its own identity and it has permissions that are not necessarily the same as the permissions of the user who is executing the add-in. These add-in permissions are requested when the add-in is installed and granted by the person who installs the add-in, as long as person has all the permissions that the add-in requests. (If the user who is installing the add-in does not have all the permissions that are requested by the add-in, the user cannot install the add-in.) By giving each add-in its own domain, SharePoint can reliably identify requests made by the add-in and verify the permissions of the add-in. For more information about add-in permissions, see Add-in permissions.

  • Cross-domain scripting security: Modern browsers support a "same origin policy" with regard to JavaScript method calls. By deploying each SharePoint Add-in to its own domain, SharePoint takes advantage of the browser's same origin policy to ensure that JavaScript in the SharePoint Add-in cannot execute any JavaScript from any other domain, including the domain in which, from the end-user's perspective, the add-in is installed.

    SharePoint also provides a means of safely overcoming the limits of the policy. Among other things, this enables the remote components of a SharePoint Add-in to query data from any website in the common parent tenancy of the host and add-in webs. For more information, see Access SharePoint data from add-ins using the cross-domain library.

Types of SharePoint components that can be in a SharePoint Add-in

In general, a SharePoint Add-in can contain one or more of the components in the following list. With certain exceptions, these components must be deployed in Web-scoped Features that are inside a SharePoint solution package (.wsp) file.

Note

The components that are marked with an asterisk (*) are discussed in more detail in the section Caveats for deploying SharePoint components later in this article.

  • Features (Web-scoped only)
  • Custom actions (including shortcut menu items and ribbon customizations)*
  • Remote event receivers*
  • Markup that references Web Parts, including add-in parts, that are included in SharePoint (but not custom Web Parts)*
  • Custom cascading style sheets (CSS) files for use by SharePoint pages
  • Custom JavaScript files for use by SharePoint pages
  • Modules (sets of files)
  • Pages
  • List templates
  • List and library instances
  • Custom list forms
  • Custom list views
  • Custom content types
  • Fields (of field types that are built into SharePoint)
  • Microsoft Business Connectivity Services (BCS) models (Web-scoped only), external content types based on the model, and external lists that use the content types*
  • Workflows*
  • Property bags
  • Web templates (but not site definitions)*

No other kind of SharePoint component can be deployed in a SharePoint Add-in. For more information about restrictions on what can be included in a SharePoint Add-in, see SharePoint Add-ins compared with SharePoint solutions.

Caveats for deploying SharePoint components

The following are some caveats and details concerning the deployment of certain kinds of SharePoint components in an add-in:

  • Custom actions: In addition to adding custom actions to the add-in web, you can add them to the host web as well. To add the custom action to the add-in web, you include it in a Web-scoped Feature that is inside a .wsp file, just as you would include any other component you add to the add-in web. To add a custom action to the host web, you can include (even in an externally based add-in) CustomAction markup in a Feature that is in the add-in package but outside any .wsp file. Components in such a "loose" Feature apply to the host web, not the add-in web, so this type of Feature is called ahost web Feature.

  • Web Parts: One kind of Web Part, an add-in part, can be deployed in an add-in, and an add-in part can go to either the add-in web or the host web. All other types of Web Parts can be referenced in add-ins, but not deployed by them. If an add-in part is deployed to the host web, it should be included in a host web Feature.

  • Remote event receivers: These are new in SharePoint. They resemble classic SharePoint event receivers except that the code runs in the cloud. These are not available in a SharePoint-hosted add-in.

  • Workflows: Workflows in SharePoint use the Microsoft Azure-hosted workflow runtime that is new in SharePoint. Coded workflows that use the SharePoint-hosted workflow runtime cannot be included in a SharePoint Add-in. Only declarative workflows or workflows that use the newer runtime are allowed.

  • Microsoft Business Connectivity Services (BCS) models, external content types, and external lists: Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service models typically have a scope that is wider than a site collection. However, when a BDC service model is deployed in an add-in, its scope is limited to the add-in web. When a BDC service model is included in an add-in, it is not stored in the BDC service shared service store. Instead, it is stored as a file in the add-in web.

  • Web Templates: In most cases, you will want the add-in web to instantiate the new built-in site definition configuration APP#0, which is optimized for add-in webs. (For more information, see Accessing the add-in from the UI.) SharePoint automatically uses APP#0 when the add-in package does not include a WebTemplate element.

    You can also define a custom site type for the add-in web. There are two major steps to doing this:

    • Include a custom WebTemplate Element (Web Template), an onet.xml file, and possibly other associated files, in the add-in web Feature for your add-in. Deploy the web template in the Web-scoped Feature in a .wsp file inside the add-in package as usual.

    • Add a WebTemplate element (PropertiesDefinition complexType) (SharePoint Add-in Manifest) to the add-in manifest as a child of the Properties element, and set its Id attribute to the GUID of the add-in web Feature and the value of the Name attribute of the WebTemplate Element (Web Template). Note that the GUID must be hyphenated and wrapped in braces "{}", and the GUID and template name are separated by the "#" character. The following is an example:

        <WebTemplate Id="{81dd4ae5-873b-4759-9838-4ad9c3dd2952}#NewSiteType" />
      

      Note

      The new WebTemplate element for add-in manifests is not the same markup as the WebTemplate element that can be included in Features. The WebTemplate element that can be included in Features defines a type of site, but the WebTemplate element for add-in manifests simply identifies what type of site to use. For more information about the add-in manifest of a SharePoint Add-in, see Add-in package structure.

      Caution

      Do not use the WebTemplate element in the add-in manifest to designate any of the built-in SharePoint site definition configurations as the add-in web's site type. We do not support using any of the built-in site definition configurations, other than APP#0, for add-in webs.

      For more information about site definition configurations and web templates, see Working with Site Templates and Definitions.

See also