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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Showcases Fluid Framework, a Web-Based Platform for Collaborative Document Creation

Microsoft Showcases Fluid Framework, a Web-Based Platform for Collaborative Document Creation

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Microsoft recently announced its new Fluid Framework at its annual Build developers conference. Fluid Framework is a developer platform designed to let developers build highly-collaborative, interactive services and applications on the web.

In its opening keynote at Build 2019, Microsoft presented and offered real-time demos of its new Fluid Framework. Microsoft explained:

This is a new web-based platform and componentized document model for shared, interactive experiences. Fluid will break down the barriers of the traditional document as we know it and usher in the beginning of the free-flowing canvas. (…) When you think about it for developers, it is a framework for building what we call distributed web applications.

Microsoft articulated a vision around three points. First goes the collaborative dimension of the Fluid Framework. Fluid seeks to increase teams productivity by enabling the development of collaborative applications with a level of communication and interactivity at speeds which Microsoft claims are not yet achieved in the industry. The low latency between the actions of a local user and those of a remote user, as demonstrated in the Fluid Framework demos, is poised to give rise to new user behaviours and collaborative workflows. Rob Howard, senior director of Microsoft 365 apps marketing, mentions:

There’s actually a point at which we see the behavior of these people in these collaborative tools change.

The second point revolves around having a componentized document model which will allow authors and creators to “deconstruct content into collaborative building blocks”. These building blocks can then be shared across local or remote applications, and combined into new documents. This is reminiscent of the compound document concept, formerly promoted by Microsoft in the context of old OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) model.

Lastly, the Fluid Framework “makes room for intelligent agents to work alongside humans to translate text, fetch content, suggest edits, perform compliance checks, and more”. Microsoft showcased a demo featuring live translation in Microsoft Word for every participant in a document and the ability to share real-time tables directly within a Microsoft Teams chat interface.

Developers will be able to access Fluid Framework by the end of the year via a software development kit (SDK). Microsoft is also expected to deliver the first Microsoft 365 experiences powered by Fluid in the course of the year. In the meantime, the Microsoft 365 Blog will release further information about the Fluid Framework.

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