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VSLive!, Day 2: Microsoft Pitches New App Model for Office and SharePoint

Wednesday's keynote address at the Visual Studio Live! conference in Las Vegas explored the new development models, tools and capabilities around SharePoint 2013, Office 2013 and Office 365.

Jim Nakashima, lead program manager in the Office Developer Tools division at Microsoft, opened his Day Two keynote by noting the same point stressed on Tuesday by Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft corporate vice president of Developer Platform Evangelism, during his keynote address. That is, the decisions companies are making to deploy applications to the cloud are no longer about "if," but "when."

Microsoft recently completed a round of product launches enabling the new app model for Office and SharePoint. Office 2013 was released in January 2013, while the cloud-based Office 365 was released in February. The Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio were released in March.

Nakashima went on to walk through the cloud-based development model introduced with Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013, and showed how this model coexists with Web standards-based and .NET server-side development. He then worked through a series of demos, showing how developers can embed app functionality in Excel spreadsheets and Outlook e-mail windows, before exploring how developers can quickly build applications for SharePoint that can be deployed to provider-hosted or auto-hosted (that is, Microsoft) servers.

Nakashima went on to highlight the app lifecycle capabilities of the new platforms, showing how the Web-based Team Foundation Service enables continuous deployment and provides source control, continuous integration, and features like burndown charts and work-item tracking.

In an interview after the keynote, Nakashima said that Microsoft's strategy around Office and SharePoint is to build upon the well-understood Web app development model and give developers a seamless path to shift their Web development efforts to SharePoint.

"There's just a little bit of goo on top of [a Web app] you need to do to make that app for SharePoint. And you get awesome identity [management] by default with that little bit of goo," Nakashima explained. "It is literally just tying a manifest to a URL. That URL is hooked on a Web server. So everything you've done as a Web developer and developing a Web app continues to exist, but you get some value-add on top of that."

Once deployed to SharePoint, developers can work to take advantage of the capabilities of the platform, Nakashima said. SharePoint features like workflow, search, remote event procedures, lists and libraries all become available to developers that move their Web apps to SharePoint. In addition, SharePoint offers a standard way to surface apps within the organization, using the new App Catalog.

Perhaps most important, new Office and SharePoint apps streamline the end user experience, Nakashima said.

"People are already using these apps," he said. "Why have them bounce out to different apps and experiences? Just keep them in the apps and experiences they're in."

Posted by Michael Desmond on 03/27/2013

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