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August 10, 2012

Microsoft News - Microsoft Office 13 Features Significant Upgrade in Development Tools

By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

Microsoft (News - Alert) will introduce the Office Cloud App Model when it releases Office 13 alongside Windows 8 in October.

“We have made some of the most significant changes on the developer side of Office in the last 15 years,” said Richard Riley, a Microsoft director working in the Office division. “If the developer knows how to write Web apps, they can write Office apps.”

Microsoft, for the past two decades, has offered Visual Basic for Applications so that developers and administrators could add extra functionality to Office. The Cloud App Model will enable the usage of HTML, CSS (News - Alert), REST, OData and OAuth.

Office Cloud App will store apps externally instead of storing them on a desktop copy of Microsoft Office. This change will expand the types of supporting technologies available to both developers and administrators. “The app developer can use whatever Web technology they like -- .Net, PHP, SQL Azure,” explained Brian Jones, principal group program manager for Microsoft’s Office solutions framework team.

Microsoft also worked to make APIs more consistent in both hosted and in-house versions of Office and Sharepoint. More similarity in APIs will allow programs that run on Word, for instance, to also run on Excel.

Jones offered a recent demonstration of a number of apps created by developers for Office within the new framework, according to PCWorld. One app that Jones demonstrated provided a map to any physical address listed within an Outlook e-mail, while another app allowed people to add commentary to an Outlook e-mail.

An Excel app downloaded London Olympics data and allowed users to sort and explore the data by an attribute, such as country.

To make getting started easy for developers, Microsoft has set up a new Office developer center. The center contains tutorials, documentation and examples. It also provides testing space for apps and an easy process for submitting finished apps to the Microsoft app store for Office.

Each Sharepoint and Office app comes as a package containing an HTML interface, JavaScript code that runs on a local machine and an XML manifest file describing how the app can integrate with Office and Sharepoint. Future releases of Office will include a built-in engine that will run JavaScript code.

“We saw that people were building a lot of internal and consumer solutions as Web applications because they were easy to deploy. Just set up a server with some HTML pages and everyone could go and get that [app],” said Jones.

“That's the model we followed.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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