Category Archives: Office
If you read my blog you are probably working with IT everyday and are familiar with the fact that all your family members (and extended family) use you as the family IT help desk – if only you could charge them your hourly rate…
A frequent family help desk call is the one you get after they have purchased a new laptop or PC. They need help to set it up and get the basic applications installed – one of which is Office.
You can point them towards buying an Office subscription, but these days it’s also worth considering what a Microsoft Live account provides for free. How much are they really going to use the “power” features of Office? I know they want Office installed because they need to feel assured that when they want to start writing a novel or need to fire up Excel for working out their finances and budget that it’s going to be there for them – but in reality it’s probably just the basic features that they require; and guess what, a free Microsoft Live account gives you online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that are actually very good. So much so that I find them faster than their desktop counterparts and in the commercial world find myself using Office Online more and more to read and make changes to Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote).
So what do you get when you sign up for a consumer Microsoft Live free account?
The sign-up page lists quite a few things but I don’t think it does a great job of telling you what you actually get, lets take a look at them:
- Account – This is the identity of your user account pretty simple.
- Outlook – You get an Outlook.com email address and you can use Outlook in a web browser, and native Outlook apps available on iPhone and Android (for free) which are really good. What you don’t get is a license to use the Desktop version of Outlook on Windows. The built in Windows mail app can be used to connect to your Outlook.com account however. It’s not as powerful and feature rich as the Outlook Desktop client but it’s also faster and baked into Windows 10.
- Office Online – This to me is really the unsung hero of a consumer Microsoft account. What this means is that you get:
- Word Online (plus native Word on iPhone/iPad and Android) – Read and pretty impressive edit capabilities
- Excel Online (plus native Word on iPhone/iPad and Android) – Read and pretty impressive edit capabilities
- PowerPoint Online (plus native Word on iPhone/iPad and Android) – Read and pretty impressive edit capabilities
- OneNote (Full Windows application plus native Word on iPhone/iPad and Android) – Read and pretty impressive edit capabilities
- Office Lens – If you haven’t used this app on iPhone or Android it’s going to blow your mind (just a little). It turns your phone into a handheld scanner. Take a photo and it automatically straightens up the page and makes the scan look good (with document, business card and whiteboard modes).
- Skype – This refers to the consumer version of Skype that you may already have used for free, well since Microsoft acquired in quite a few years ago now your Microsoft Live account has an associated Skype identity.
- OneDrive – This is personal cloud storage (think DropBox). You can save files to the cloud and they are backed up and available anywhere you log in (Windows PC, Mac, tablet, web browser, iPhone, Android etc). On the free plan you get 5GB of cloud storage for free.
- Windows – to get the most out of Windows 10 you really need to have a Microsoft account at the time of setting Windows up. Your free Microsoft Live account provides this Windows identity, this is who you will sign into you new laptop or PC with.
- XBox Live, Bing, Store, MSN – I don’t think these are anything to rave about they are really just providing you with an identity to these services.
So we’ve covered off the services that Microsoft advertises you get with a Microsoft Live account, but once you have set it up these are the application that you actually get access to (this is accessing your account via a web browser).
In addition to what’s advertised you also get:
- Calendar – Yes this is pretty much what you’d expect it to be. It’s baked into Windows 10 and the Cortana personal assistant can make use of it too
- People – This is your central contact management area for your Microsoft Live account
- Photos – these are stored in OneDrive but you get specific handling of photos with thumbnails, albums and some AI classification as well.
- Tasks – These are basically a ToDo list but with pretty slick apps for iPhone and Android as well. This has come partly from Microsoft’s acquisition of Wunderlist which was one of the most popular mobile ToDo applications.
- Sway – this is for creating rich and engaging online presentations
- Flow – very useful for automating tasks and connecting systems together (even outside the Microsoft ecosystem). Example: every time you receive and email with a certain subject or from a certain sender you want to copy the attachment to a folder in OneDrive – Flow can do that for you. Flow is similar to IFTTT (If This Then That)
The real draw cards here for your family and friends though is Office online (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). The editing capabilities of the online version of these apps is now to the point that it would be sufficient for most use cases. Have a look at the ribbons options on the screenshots below, are they missing anything you’d need for day to day use?
You’re getting a lot out of the box now with your free Microsoft Live account. It’s by far the smartest move when setting up a new laptop or PC so that your Microsoft Live account is used when you are logging in and you are going to get all of these great apps for free and may even replace the need for buying a Office subscription or installing a desktop version of the Office application. Now that has to cut down your future IT help desk overhead!
It’s a fast moving space and hard to keep up with even when you are working in the space, so cut your family and friends some slack, it may take a little education but they can achieve what they used to with a minimal install and without having to part with any hard earned cash.
Read more about Office Online.
Have you got a list of leads, potential customers, or existing database of people and want to identify or target those that are using Office 365? I can think of one or two scenarios where this would be handy!
Microsoft have a free modern Excel Add-in called “MX Lookup” (available in the Office Store) that takes a list of email addresses and will perform a lookup for each email address and will tell you if the backend mail system is Office 365 or not. Pretty handy right?
I’ve been using this add-in in demos and have recently noticed that it now identifies Outlook.com accounts as being Office 365 (where it originally identified these separately) so be aware that you may get a mix of Office 365 and Outlook.com users.
Excited, proud, honoured, humbled, grateful, stupidly happy…. all emotions that hit me simultaneously as I opened the email that gave me the news that I had been presented the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for my work in Office Development.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some really awesome people both in the community and at Microsoft through my time at OnePlace Solutions. I love sharing knowledge and hearing what others go on to do with that knowledge. While I started this blog very nervously many years ago, it has been a very rewarding effort through which I’ve received a lot of feedback and gratitude. I’m honoured that so many people subscribe, read my blog and see value in it. A big thank you to all those that have given me support, feedback, advice or simply read one of my articles 🙂
This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who share their remarkable passion, real-world knowledge, and technical expertise with others through demonstration of exemplary commitment.
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.