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Microsoft 365

The Office 365 platform—new opportunities for developers

Arpan Shah is the senior director of Office 365 technical product management.

Today at the SharePoint Conference, we announced huge investments in making Office 365 a robust platform on which developers can build amazing solutions.  As a developer, you have new scenarios to create contextual solutions that span Office 365 from the web, mobile apps and Office.  You have new robust APIs and tool improvements to make building solutions easier than ever before.  And your solutions have the potential to reach a vast number of Office 365 users across businesses, government organizations, and schools, who spend hours every day using Office.   Start building apps today at

Build contextual solutions for any device

Productivity apps should be available everywhere and anywhere users want them. The average information worker spends hours each day in the Office user experience across Office apps, web browsers, and mobile devices. We’re committed to enabling developers to easily and securely build solutions that integrate across the entire Office 365 user experience, including core productivity, mail, social collaboration, and communication powered by Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer, and Lync.

This week, we’re announcing even greater extensibility in the Office 365 user experience including:

Enhanced PowerPoint content apps that allow interactive extensibility for presentations. These apps can extend presentations—for example, by enabling users to include education-related quizzes right inside lecture notes or polls, surveys, and SAP data inside of business decks. PowerPoint apps can now be shared seamlessly within PowerPoint presentations to Office Online users.

New Outlook compose apps that allow you to interact with your email messages and appointments while you’re drafting email responses—without having to leave Outlook.


A “My Templates” app lets your organization insert ready-made templates right into the compose section, saving time.


The same “My Templates” app works across OWA for Devices, above is the tablet view.


The same “My Templates” app works across OWA for Devices, above is the phone view.

New ability to format cells and cell content from Excel apps.

Dev_Excel App_cropped_03

For example, above the customer name in the cell is passed to the app that looks up more details about that customer’s sale pipeline.

New ability to include apps inside Access apps for SharePoint.

Dev_Access App_cropped_04

For example, above a map app shows the location of each venue.

Call robust Office 365 APIs

The Office 365 user experience and app extensions are designed using industry open standards like HTML, CSS3, and Javascript for user interfaces, along with REST, OData, and OAuth for secure access to data and services, so that you can easily refactor existing solutions or create new ones to take advantage of the power of Office 365. In addition, the new APIs and app model mean that even with Office 365 monthly updates, you won’t have to update your applications as frequently as the service.

We’re introducing a new set of Office 365 APIs that expose services across the entire Office 365 surface area in a simple, RESTful way. We are moving in a direction where you won’t have to develop against SharePoint and Exchange-specific APIs; you will be able to develop against a consolidated Office 365 API set that spans SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Azure AD. We’re exposing Calendar, People, Mail and File Office 365 APIs that make interaction with the platform intuitive and easy. One of these platform APIs is the Discovery Service APIs, which allow you to determine the location of related Office 365 services for particular users, including Files, Calendar, and Mail APIs. Another new platform API creates a consistent and unified authentication experience across Office 365, as well as from device apps into Office 365 leveraging OAuth.

This week, we’re announcing the availability of the Android SDK for Office 365 and Windows 8 Libraries, which allows for easier and more streamlined development using the above-mentioned Office 365 APIs, including Files, Lists, Mail and Calendars.



This app, running on both an android tablet and Windows Phone, is showing an approval process based on data stored inside Office 365 and SharePoint.

When we launched the new app model last year, there was a gap between it and on-premises APIs. The Office 365 developer community gave us the feedback we needed to close this gap, so we could help you enjoy the same extensibility that you do on-premises today. We listened, and today we’re happy to say that we’ve made progress in closing the gap by addressing some of features most commonly requested by you. Here’s a summary of what we did.

  • We created self-service SharePoint sites with customized branding. The new JavaScript-injection approach and some fancy API references enable this scenario in Office 365.
  • We expanded the OneDrive API. With the increasing popularity of OneDrive for Business, developers need greater access to OneDrive data and actions.
  • We added the new ability to create Workflow App Packages as SharePoint apps and new workflow activation rules based on content types.
  • We gave you a sneak peak of an upcoming feature, Custom File Type Definitions, that allows you to define how SharePoint handles previewing, opening, and editing custom file types that are not native to SharePoint or Office.

We’re committed to aggressively expanding our APIs and continuing to listen to the community’s feedback.


Use your favorite development tools

Building the Office 365 platform on open standards such as HTML5, REST web services, and OAuth also means that you can use your favorite development tools. You can build apps using your choice of development tools, platform, and languages—for example, Ruby, C, .NET, Java, Python, PHP, and others.

For those of you who know and love Visual Studio and Azure as your primary development environment and hosting platform, we’ve made investments to make Office 365 development a first class development experience. These investments include:

A Cloud Business Apps project template for rapid development of business apps for SharePoint that extend Office 365.


Cloud Business App template in Visual Studio speeds time to develop an app for Office 365.

Support for SAP Netweaver Gateway for SAP data connections, including integration with Cloud Business Apps.


Connecting a SAP data source is now as easy as a standard database or SharePoint list.

New templates to support new app types and end points as described earlier in this post in the section on the expansion of our Office 365 user experience and API enhancements.


Starting a new project wizard starts you with the perfect template for your app.

Robust debugging options across the Office 365 service, Office Online, and desktop clients, as well as multiple browser support to ensure that all your code—wherever it runs—runs smoothly.


Capture the attention of millions of users

After you’ve created your masterpiece app, users need an easy way to discover and share your creation to help it spread virally. While you can already do this through the Office Store and App Catalogue, we’ve made some changes to make sharing and discovery of apps much easier.  We included My Apps and Office Store entry points on the Office Ribbon.  In addition, we’ve made it easier for people to share apps with one another when sharing a document.  When you receive a document that contains a shared app, you can now quickly activate the app and use it in other documents.


The Office Ribbon now displays a few apps, to help users become familiar with using Office 365 apps.

Next steps

Now it’s your turn to build amazing Office 365 apps, share your feedback with us, and participate in the Office 365 developer community.  First, we recommend you check out the new Office APIs on MSDN.  Second, When you’re ready to provide feedback head to OfficeSPDev.UserVoice.Com and speak your mind, we’re listening to your feedback.  If you get stuck or need advice check out the solutions on StackOverflow for [ms-office] and [SharePoint].  Finally unleash your skills and try out the new development tools Office Dev Tools for Visual Studio 2013 and Office 365 API Tools for Visual Studio 2013.

I’m personally super excited about the Office 365 platform and the limitless possibilities. With Office 365, we are committed to continuously innovate and deliver new features. Our developers are a core audience, and you can expect us to deliver enhancements to our extensibility, APIs, tools and sharing experiences on a regular basis. 

—Arpan Shah

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