Monthly Archives: May 2012
Yesterday Paul Thurrett posted a great blog Office 15: The Mile-High View discussing some of the new features and architecture of Office 15. Of particular interest to me was the following information regarding Outlook 15 and Office extensibility through Agave.
Hundreds of millions of users live in Outlook each day, making it the center of their professional and personal lives. And with Outlook 15, we’re getting a refined user experience with better navigation between the email, calendar, people, and tasks modules, and a new Peeks feature for quickly viewing information about your schedule, a person, a task, and other objects without leaving the current view and navigating to the relevant module. It features in-line replies, a new weather bar (in Calendar only, curiously), and finally integrates correctly with multiple email sources, including Hotmail (without requiring an add-on.) Speaking of add-ons, remember the Social Connector from Outlook 2010? That’s integrated as well.
Office 15 Metro UI in Outlook 15
Office 15 is also providing an interesting new extensibility platform, code-named Agave, which will work with both traditional, PC-based versions of Office as well as the Office Web Apps and Office servers. Agave provides what Microsoft called “web-powered experiences,” using a web extension model that utilizes web standards behind the scenes. Developers will be able to publicize their new add-ons using an Office Marketplace that will be accessible from within the applications and can be used by corporations to deliver secure, private solutions to their managed users.
Timing and Expectations
Internally, Microsoft is currently planning to complete development of all of the Office 15 products and services in November 2012, though a leaked road map suggests that they won’t actually ship to customers until very early 2013. Regardless of the actual ship date, I think it’s highly probable that one or more of the solutions will slip, and that as a result Microsoft will ship these products over a tight period of time, nearly simultaneously rather than simultaneously.
The following information appeared in an article written by Tom Warren on The Verge:
Microsoft is planning to allow developers to create “Agaves” web extensions to bring third-party functionality to Office clients. Web developers will be able to create an area within an Office application that lets webpages interact with documents and augment content with extra features. The Agaves will be provided through Microsoft’s Office Marketplace, or from private stand-alone Agaves at organizations.
Microsoft’s next-generation of its Office productivity suite, will support the new web extensions throughout a number of its core client apps. Excel 15, Word 15, Outlook 15, and Project Professional 15 will all support Agaves, and Microsoft will also allow Agaves to run on the Excel, Outlook, and Mobile Outlook Web Apps. The software giant is creating three different ways that Agaves can be integrated into Office applications: Task Pane, Content, and Contextual.
A Task Pane Agave will enable Office users to see an extension side-by-side with an Office document, allowing users to look up information from a web service based on a product name highlighted in a document. Content Agaves will allow webpages to become part of a document as embedded content that can be shown in line with documents. Developers could use this functionality to integrate a YouTube video clip or a picture gallery. Contextual Agaves will work on the Outlook side of Office and allow developers to display content with a particular mail or calendar item.
This new video is a great starting point for getting the most out of OnePlaceMail if you are looking to store related Email and Documents in Documents Sets in SharePoint 2010.
The video shows SharePoint 2010 Documents Sets being used as a container to store email messages and documents for projects/tasks. The screencast shows interacting with Document Sets from within Microsoft Outlook.
What is MDS and how does it effect the SharePoint browser experience? There is very little documentation around regarding MDS (which stands for Minimal Download Strategy). It appears to be a technology that Microsoft is introducing with the next release of SharePoint (SharePoint 15 / SharePoint 2013). I make this wild assumption as I’ve not heard or found reference to MDS prior to the release of the SharePoint 15 API reference.
In Microsoft’s own words:
The minimal download strategy will use a single .aspx file (start.aspx) for your pages, with the actual URL encoded in the text following the hashmark (‘#’). When navigating from page to page, only the changes between two compatible pages will be downloaded. Fewer bytes will be downloaded and the page will appear more quickly.
At this stage it is unclear as to whether this new MDS technology is specific to certain page types within SharePoint or Microsoft is tackling it at a more fundamental level and it is a technology that may be equally applied to .Net web applications in future.
With the vast UI performance we saw between Server 2007 (MOSS) and SharePoint 2010 thanks in large part to the introduction of AJAX, can we expect a similar performance improvement when SharePoint 15 hits our servers? Until I see it in action I will reserve my judgement, it does make you just a little bit excited though doesn’t it…
EDIT – Now that SharePoint 2013 Preview is available the best article I’ve come across on the workings of MDS is this article from Wictor Wilen SharePoint 2013 – Introduction to the Minimal Download Strategy (MDS)
I’m a little pressed for time to write my own blog pulling together the snippets of info that have been circulating related to Agaves and the new development opportunities that Office 15 will bring with it. Until I get time to blog here’s a great primer (all credit to Learning SharePoint for this information)
Lets look at basic features of Agaves –
* Agaves will be available for download from the coming Office 15 in-app marketplace.
* There will exist different kinds of Agaves, including Content Agaves and Task Pane Agaves.
Now lets see how does it matter to our beloved SharePoint.
According to this post from Mary Jo Foley, there will exist a SharePoint connection on the Agave front and SharePoint apps will be able to be integrated with Agaves. So here is a golden chance to create applications targeted to Office suite which integrates well with SharePoint.
After years of sending and receiving lots of great ideas, tips, problem solutions related to the OnePlaceMail product and SharePoint in general this week saw the launch of the OnePlaceMail User Community Site.
Engage now with other OnePlaceMail users in the community, ask questions, provide enhancement suggestions, report problems and importantly – if you love the software, tell someone and give praise!
Community Site highlights
- Ask the OnePlaceMail community questions (also moderated by the OnePlaceMail team)
- Share your ideas, provide feedback and suggestions for future enhancements
- Report problems and allow both the user community and OnePlaceMail Team help you
- Keep abreast of product announcements
- Share your praise
Our Development Priorities Driven by You
I’m excited to see this new public area for suggestions for future enhancements, it’s something we have always encouraged from our users but never has it been so public. The OnePlaceMail Community Site takes it one step further and encourages you to ‘vote up’ your favourite suggestions. As part of the OnePlaceMail development team, we will be using this list to determine priorities of our product backlog. So please let us know what’s most important to you – and be heard!
If you are using OnePlaceMail or interested in knowing more then please come and join the community.
I was just reading an article on SPTech by David Rubinstein written yesterday which is hinting the SharePoint 15 public beta will line up with the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in November – makes sense to me. Rewind the clock to the SharePoint conference in Vegas (2009) when they pulled the covers off SharePoint 2010. The buzz at the conference was massive due to all the anticipation of the new release. If Microsoft has good reason to push it back it can only help boost the numbers and success of the conference.
It appears the timeframe for the release of the beta of the next version of SharePoint has been pushed back from a summertime delivery until the fall. I say it “appears” this way because Microsoft does not discuss product release dates, and this information has been pulled from the rumor mill. But, as multiple people have told me the same thing, I feel confident passing this along as solid information. I’m told Microsoft intends to have something in people’s hands by the time of the company’s SharePoint conference in November. Speculation is that as Microsoft tried to align its SharePoint and Windows 8 releases, something unexpected arose, pushing things back.
One major shift from SharePoint on-premise to SharePoint via Office 365 from an Administrators point of view is that you now don’t get a chance to test/evaluate enhancements and the impact they will have on your users / applications that you have built on top of SharePoint. With SharePoint on-premise you could always apply the SharePoint Cumulative Update or Service Pack in a test environment and check that all your applications/customisation still work and identify any areas that you may need to train users or modify business processes to ensure a smooth upgrade.
Enter Office 365 and SharePoint online.
You now don’t get a chance to see and test the changes/enhancements until they appear on your live site. This could leave you doing a mad scramble to ensure your applications and users can continue to work smoothly.
Microsoft have launched a Wiki site dedicated to keeping the public informed of upcoming enhancements and changes to both the Enterprise and Professional Office 365 plans. While this is still a long way from providing the public with a “test” version of their Office 365 environment with the update applied, it is a solid step in the right direction.