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Microsoft Teams Can Be Extended via Tabs, Bots and Connectors

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Microsoft has announced Teams, a group collaboration workspace based on chats and integrated with Office 365. Developers have the opportunity to extend Teams with Tabs, Bots and Connectors.

Teams is a tool similar to Slack, enabling teams to communicate via text or voice/video calls through Skype, being integrated with the Office 365 suite of applications. Team members can discuss, vote, exchange images, files, etc. Microsoft has created the workspace as a platform that can be extended by developers with Tabs, chat Bots and Office 365 Connectors.

Each communication channel has a few built-in tabs but others can be created and added. A tab is a canvas allowing developers to add the content and functionality they wish. Some possible uses suggested by Microsoft are data visualization, dashboard, note taking, task management, etc. Tabs are HTML pages loaded in an iFrame and making use of the library MicrosoftTeams.js. A sample tab is hosted on GitHub.

Bots can enhance a conversation thread. Examples are: answering natural language questions, running surveys, starting workflows, etc. These bots are built on the Microsoft Bot Framework with C#, JavaScript/Node.js or can be generated from a Swagger file using the Bot Connector API. Existing bots can be adapted to run in Teams.

The last way to extend Teams is through Office 365 Connectors. These connectors enable users to receive notifications from external services such as Twitter, GitHub, Trello, Stack Overflow, User Voice, etc. A connector is a webhook that accepts an HTTP call with a JSON payload. Beside simple messages, connectors are supposed to accept and execute actions but only hyperlinks are supported at this time.

Microsoft Teams is currently in preview mode and it will be made generally available to users of Office 365 Business and Enterprise during Q1/2017. At that point it is supposed to be interconnected with over 100 services including 85 bots and 70 connectors.  

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