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Developing New Applications for Office and SharePoint 2013

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Today at Microsoft's Build 2012 Conference, Keenan Newton and Cyrielle Simeone demonstrated some of the new features that will become available to developers using Office and SharePoint 2013. Both of these applications make greater use of web-based data sources and will provide users with the ability to install apps from their respective app stores.

Newton listed the following areas targeted for improvement for these latest versions:

  • Apps and the Cloud App Model
  • Office and SharePoint Store
  • SharePoint Client Side Object Model
  • SharePoint Server Side Object Model
  • Workflow
  • Access

The widespread availability apps for SharePoint is not intended to provide a security risk, as Simeone illustrated how administrators can restrict the ability of users to apps. If prevented from adding them, it can be setup so that a user can request that the admin grant the ability to install on a per-app basis. This allows the admin to inspect the app and review the user's rationale for requesting installation.  Administrators of Office users can use Group Policy Objects to restrict user access to the Office app store.

Workflows have been redesigned to run off-server using the Workflow Manager. This means that SharePoint installations don't have to scale SharePoint hardware just to scale Workflow Manager. Administrators do retain the ability to install Workflow Manager on the same server as SharePoint, but he recommends that these installations are made to separate machines.

The vision outlined by Newton is to modernize the platform. To that end, Newton identified a few key trends that their principles were written to address:

Today's Trends

  • HTML5 & CSS3
  • 75% of Developers using HTML5
  • By 2014 75% of the Fortune 1000 will offer public APIs

Our Principles

  • Designed for the cloud
  • Enabling a consistent development platform
  • Give choice to developers

To drive home the point of giving developers choice, Newton gave the example that its okay to use Notepad to develop Office/SharePoint apps if that is what the developer wants to do.

Simeone demonstrated how Office 2013's app support might work in the real world. Using Excel 2013, she added a Bing app to a spreadsheet containing a table of data that mapped to each state. Listing information this way is fairly common (be it sales, production, etc). The difference is that with the addition of the Bing map, her data was now dynamically overlaid on to a map. Each state with data in the table had a marker placed on a map. As Simeone changed the table information, the marker updated to reflect the change.

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