We work closely with Microsoft on a number of fronts and regularly participate in ‘inner circle’ programs. One of these came to fruition last week, with a series of announcements around Office 365 development at TechEd Europe in Barcelona.
The three main things unveiled (described at a high level on the Office Blog at http://blogs.office.com/2014/10/28/new-office-365-extensibility-windows-ios-android-web-developers) are:
- General availability of new Office 365 APIs for mail, files, calendar, and contacts
- New mobile SDKs for native app development
- Visibility for developers’ apps through the new Office 365 app launcher
BA Insight was a launch partner, and we’ve been working with early code and supplied a cool demo for the conference. We programmed our app to show up in the new Office 365 app launcher, which will take the place of the ribbon tabs you see now. Our app works across the whole tenant, not just on the site you install it on like current SharePoint apps, and is easy for users to find.
We also focused on the new File Handler Extension API to extend our AutoClassifier app and add collaboration features around taxonomies. The File Extension API was easy to use. Our AutoClassifier registers one file type using the API, and the result is that icons, viewing, and editing actions now show up for this file type in Office 365, across the entire tenant. Any taxonomy file (using the standard .skos file format) shows our icon and previews with our code (native .skos is ugly, complex XML; we pop up a live explorer in the hover panel).
Open a file, wherever that file is stored (including OneDrive) and you are in our Taxonomy Manager, where you can edit taxonomies and rules, test auto-classification, and keep metadata up to date.
One nice thing about this is that Content Managers can work together much more easily. They can edit and test metadata sets in our Taxonomy Manager, publish to the Office 365 term store, and use built-in sharing, versioning, workflow, and reports in Office 365. This will eliminate the need for our customers to consider expensive additional tools for version control, workflow, and reporting on taxonomies.
And, of course, end users are more productive because our AutoClassifier eliminates the need for manual tagging of content in Office 365.
This is still a demo and not a shipping product, as it depends on hooks not yet released from Microsoft (although they are starting to roll out to First Release customers). But it’s great that we can add this kind of value quickly, and it’s been fun to build.
You can read about the new capabilities and see us listed as a launch partner here:
This is just the beginning. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Office 365 the most strategic API for Microsoft, and the vision for this is broad and exciting:
New things will roll out from Microsoft regularly, and it will mean that we can offer great products more quickly. There are nice capabilities for mobile, cross-platform (iOS, Android, etc), and cross-suite development on the way, which I can’t wait to get my hands on!