I had a great time on my first visit to the Newcastle Coders Group this week. It was nice to meet some passionate developers and hear what people are up to outside of my usual Microsoft sphere.
Thanks for having me talk about modern Office add-in development. Here’s the slide deck from the evenings talk.
I had the pleasure this week of speaking at the Sydney SharePoint User Group on the topic of transitioning to the modern Office Add-in development model.
- The existing COM/VSTO Office Add-in development model
- The reasons and drivers for needing a new development model
- What the modern Office Add-in development is and how it works
- Benefits of the modern model
- What this transition means for Office developers
- A look at the typical modern add-in technology stack and discussing some of the options
- The wider Office Developer Vision (Extending Office through add-ins + accessing Office 365 data via Graph)
Thanks to those who attended and as promised here’s a link to the slide deck from the nights presentation.
Microsoft SharePoint is developed by the same team responsible for the Microsoft Office desktop applications. There has always been a strong connection between these products. Up until recently, developers who wanted to integrate Word, Excel, PowerPoint with SharePoint would use the COM add-in model. But now Microsoft has a new Modern Office Add-in development model.
In this month’s session, Cameron Dwyer – CTO at OnePlace Solutions – will discuss the high level architecture of this modern add-in model, the new technologies and choices involved, transitioning developer skillsets, advantages / disadvantages of the modern model. We will mix in a bit of Azure, Angular, TypeScript, Office 365 APIs, Office UI Fabric, Authentication, and maybe some Applications Insights and DevOps.
OnePlace Solutions is a local success story. Based in Sydney, they have developed products using Microsoft Office COM add-ins. They are one of the first companies globally to have launched add-ins based on the new model for the desktop, iPhone and Android platforms.
For more details on attending this free event in Sydney on 17 October
What a massive week in Orlando for Office developers. So many sessions, so much new information, it really was a case of drinking from the fire hose!
Thankfully most sessions were recorded and are progressively being made available along with the relevant slide decks on https://myignite.microsoft.com/videos
If you only have time to watch one session my pick for the SharePoint/Office Developer would be Accelerate your digital transformation with SharePoint and OneDrive presented by Jeff Teper, Dan Holme, Omar Shahine, Naomi Moneypenny. This session was just non-stop announcements on what’s new in SharePoint, Office and OneDrive. Some of the announcements:
- Office 2019 is coming (Office clients, SharePoint, Exchange, Skype for Business servers – all servers to be available on-prem) – preview due mid 2018
- A SharePoint specific conference (backed by Microsoft) is coming back in 2018 – and yes it’s going to be in Las Vegas
- SharePoint hub sites to group related sites together, share branding and navigation and provide rollup of some information
- SharePoint site provisioning model to allow for scripted customizations during the provisioning process
- SharePoint Company Theming and an online tool to help (https://aka.ms/spthemebuilder)
- SharePoint File Preview webpart (supports over 270 file formats)
- SharePoint Migration tool to move SharePoint content from on-prem to the the cloud (Office 365)
- Improved external link sharing
- OneDrive – deeper integration into Windows 10
- Improved large list support
- New version of the SharePoint mobile app
Going one level deeper into the Office/SharePoint developer world, here’s some of the news that came out regarding:
Microsoft Graph (Build smarter apps with Office using the Microsoft Graph (Yina Arenas))
- Generally Available
- SharePoint Lists
- File Versions
- People API
- App-only support for OneDrive
- Access to Outlook shared calendars, contacts and mail folders
- In Preview
- Graph Extensions for Azure Functions
- Outlook Categories
- Outlook Rules
- Outlook Email Headers
- Outlook Rooms
- Generally Available
- Outlook Add-ins for Android
- Single sign-on API (Web clients)
- Auto-open task pane
- Single sign-on API for Outlook
- Centralized Deployment for Outlook Add-ins
- Adaptive card support in Outlook (OWA)
SharePoint Framework and Patterns and Practices
- SharePoint Framework became available on-prem with SharePoint Server Feature pack 2 (this was released a couple of weeks before Ignite)
- SharePoint Framework Extensions – custom snippets on every page (aka delegate controls) context buttons/actions, customized field rendering
- Reusable controls and Office Fabric Core
One of the more complex areas of doing modern Office development is authentication and authorization (especially when connection back into Office 365 services). This story is becoming a lot simpler if you can go exclusively through the Graph API. Vittorio Bertocci did a very entertaining session (Office development: Authentication demystified) that really shows you an on-rails experience for how to accomplish this from many different technologies and context. It is well worth a watch and has the potential to save you a lot of time and head scratching. This area of Office development has changed drastically over the last couple of years and there is a lot of conflicting information on the web and much of it is out of date.
Microsoft’s premier technology conference Microsoft Ignite 2017 is quickly approaching and it’s set to be the largest Ignite conference yet (rumoured to be around 24,000 attendees).
OnePlace Solutions – Products that rock this world
I’m excited to be attending again with some of the awesome OnePlace Solutions team. OnePlace Solutions is again a sponsor and exhibitor at the conference so please come by and pay us a visit on the expo floor (booth 1724). We will be running live demos of our desktop product suite (a major release went out for this last week so you will be seeing brand new software) including OnePlaceMail, OnePlaceDocs, and OnePlaceLive.
In addition I’m super proud of the work we did earlier this year to launch OnePlaceMail for iPhone/iPad, and just last week we were a launch partner when Microsoft announced add-in availability for Outlook on Android.
Fun & Giveaways – that are out of this world
Who doesn’t like building LEGO and winning prizes? Come and play our Lego game for your chance to win the LEGO® NASA Apollo Saturn V
What’s at the Conference for Office Developers?
Heaps, and heaps, and heaps. Trying to build a schedule in MyIgnite website is overwhelming with the shear number of sessions available BUT IT IS ALSO A MUST – don’t try to figure it out on the day, it will take a couple of hours to really look through the options and choose the right sessions for yourself. The conference centre is huge, so if you end up in the wrong session you could have a 30 minute walk to get to another session, not a situation you want to find yourself in. Here’s my picks for Office developers:
Microsoft Office 365 platform overview
Learn about the latest that Office 365 has to offer developers and power users, from Microsoft Teams extensibility and the Microsoft Graph to Office add-ins and Office UI Fabric. We cover the full range of solution-building tools, from Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow to Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code. Get a demo-packed overview of the platform, and a guide to Office sessions you should see through the rest of the conference.
Make your app a native part of Office with Office Add-ins
Microsoft Office Add-ins allow you to make your solution a native part of Office on every platform across desktop, web, and mobile applications. Learn how to build an Office Add-in, the new features we’ve recently launched and our future roadmap. This session covers how to enable native Office experiences using standard web developers tools, how your Add-in can run anywhere, and all the great distribution channels for publishing your app.
Building the modern SharePoint experience: Best practices from Microsoft for developing with SPFx
With the SharePoint Framework, you can incorporate modern developer techniques to create fast, responsive components. Building on lessons from developing out-of-the-box components, in this session, we go under the hood to explore details of modern SharePoint client-side development tools to not only manage your developer environment but also give you an edge in building optimized and performant web parts and extensions. We also show how you can streamline deployment with SharePoint CDN facilities to strike the optimal mix of flexibility and performance for your projects.
Migrate your apps from legacy APIs to Microsoft Graph
Microsoft Graph is the single REST API endpoint for accessing your data in the Microsoft Cloud including from Azure Active Directory, Office 365, Intune, and more. In this session, learn about how Microsoft Graph can now enable you to create apps that were simply not possible before. Find out what is new with Microsoft Graph in addressing previous parity gaps with legacy endpoints, learn about the scenarios that you can build using Graph, and see how you can quickly migrate to using Graph.
Office development: Authentication demystified
Tokens and Scopes and Protocols, Oh My! Come to this session to discover how easy it is to use the MSAL SDK to connect your applications and Office Add-ins to the Microsoft Graph, without any need to become a protocol expert. No matter what platform or dev stack you are targeting, you’ll be surprised by how little code it takes to authenticate users and take advantage of Microsoft’s rich cloud API. We cover a lot of great MSAL-focused tech, including MSAL.NET for UWP, Desktop and Xamarin, MSAL.NET for Agave plug-ins and MSAL JS. We also touch on MSAL for iOS and Android. It goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway – that we also talk about Microsoft Graph!
Stay Updated and Hear the News as it Breaks
Follow @MS_Ignite on Twitter and use/follow the hashtag #MSIgnite to share your thoughts
Follow the 10 MVP “Community Reports”
Keep your eyes and ears open – news will be breaking all around you!
Enjoy Yourself and Have Fun
Take the opportunity to enjoy Universal for a private party (that doesn’t happen every day!)
See if any of the events from the Ultimate Events Party List take your fancy
Tweet your step count. I think I’m a chance of cracking 20,000 steps a day
I’ll be tweeting (@CameronDwyer) throughout the conference.
Hope to see you there.
This is a problem I have come across each time I build a new virtual development machine with Visual Studio on it. The problem has been around for a few years now and I always have to search around for the steps to fix it each time it catches me.
I’ve seen this issue in the following versions of Visual Studio and the resolution is the same and works for them all:
- Visual Studio 2012
- Visual Studio 2015
- Visual Studio 2017
- Visual Studio Code
When using Visual Studio the mouse cursor flickers badly or totally disappears when the mouse pointer is in the code editing area of Visual Studio (as shown in the screenshot below).
Moving the mouse cursor outside of this area makes it visible again, and it seems that the mouse pointer is unaffected when using other applications and on the Windows desktop itself.
I’ve found that the problem is much more prevalent when access Visual Studio on another machine (e.g. virtual development machine) via remote desktop.
Thankfully the solution is quick and simple:
- Open Control Panel | Appearance and Personalization | Personalization | Change mouse pointers
- On the Pointers tab of the dialog change the Scheme to Windows Black (system scheme)
That’s it, your cursor should now be back and stable.
Debugging in Office Online (web browser versions of the Office products) is probably the simplest to use existing debug tools, and simply using F12 debug tools in IE, Edge, Chrome will give you access to the Console, DOM and inspection of HTML and CSS.
Desktop Office clients make it a bit harder since you can’t just start the F12 debugger tools because you are not in a full browser (like Edge or Chrome). Luckily Microsoft have provided a standalone version of the F12 tools (F12Chooser.exe) that you can use to attach to the running instance of the Desktop Office client.
Once you start talking about devices such as iPhones and iPads it begins to get even more difficult. Most documentation points you in the direction of Vorlon.JS which provides a good remote debugging experience, but involves a fair bit of setup, configuration and embedded scripts in your addin as well.
Firebug Console (iPhone)
Firebug DOM explorer (iPhone)
Firebug HTML Inspector (Desktop Outlook)
When developing add-ins for Office you are often serving the add-in from a local web server on a URL using the host name “localhost”. Office add-ins also require the web server to use SSL to serve the resources for the add-in. The Chrome security implementation will fire off a security error under most common development scenarios. This is when the domain of the SSL certificate does not match “localhost”.
You will see this problem manifest itself by causing your add-in to not start and show an error stating:
“Add-in Error Something went wrong and we couldn’t start this add-in. Please try again later or contact your system administrator”
If you have the Developer Tools window open in Chrome you will see error messages getting output with the text:
There is a relatively easy workaround to this problem that you can implement on your development machine to allow Chrome to bypass this certificate check on URLs served from “localhost”.
Type the following into the Chrome browser URL bar:
Enable the option:
“Allow invalid certificates for resources loaded from localhost. Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android
Allows requests to localhost over HTTPS even when an invalid certificate is presented.”
After making this change you will need to restart Chrome.
Using Visual Studio 2017 and attempting to add a reference to a project you receive an error stating “The operation could not be completed”.
It seems that to bring up the Add Reference dialog in Visual Studio 2017 the Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.Interop.11.0.dll needs to be regsitered in the GAC. You can follow these steps to register this assembly in the GAC:
Open the Develop Command Prompt for VS2017 (ensure you run the as administrator otherwise the GAC registration may fail)
Change the current directory to the PublicAssemblies folder for your Visual Studio 2017 installation. Mine was:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Enterprise\Common7\IDE\PublicAssemblies
Note: this path will be different for different versions of Visual Studio (e.g. you may find your path is C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Community\Common7\IDE\PublicAssemblies)
Run the following command to register the assembly in the GAC:
gacutil -i Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.Interop.11.0.dll
Now restart VS2017 and try to add a reference to your project again and you should see the Add Reference dialog appear.