Days after it whipped the proverbial curtain back from its latest version of Office, Microsoft has moved to the next stage in what will doubtlessly prove a long and intensive marketing campaign: convincing third-party developers to build apps for Office and SharePoint 2013.
In keeping with Microsoft’s “all in” strategy with regard to the cloud, Office 2013 incorporates a good deal of cloud functionality: SkyDrive is now the default storage selection for documents, for example, and users’ work is synced between devices connected to the Web.
On the heels of that, Microsoft is now offering a “Cloud App Model” that incorporates Web standards, meant for developers interested in building apps that bring functionality into Office and SharePoint. The toolset for building within this “Cloud App Model” is codenamed “Napa.”
“We wanted to provide a lightweight, in-browser experience, so that you could quickly build your SharePoint or Office web app in the same browser where they would run,” Jason Zander, corporate vice president for the Visual Studio team in Microsoft’s Developer Division, wrote in a July 17 blog posting. “Since ‘Napa’ is web based, you don’t need to install anything on your machine to start developing for Office and SharePoint.” Given how the code is all on the client side, developers can debug code using browser-debugging tools.
Developers can also build mail apps for Office, which add content and functionality to Outlook items based on activation rules, content apps for Excel, which add content and functionality to Excel documents, and task pane apps for Office, which add functionality to Excel and Word documents in a task pane adjacent to the document.
Developers will apparently have the opportunity to market their apps via Microsoft’s new Office Store, or distribute them within organizations via an internal app catalog.