Office Extensibility exists for a single, simple purpose: make Office more useful by unleashing the creativity of developers to craft purpose-driven, relevant experiences for their users. We’re excited about pushing forward our vision of new and better ways for users to be productive. Combining that with the creativity and vision of third-party developers from around the world and companies of all sizes, the possibilities are endless.
We recently had a great experience working with a group of developers from Microsoft’s own Corporate, External, & Legal Affairs (CELA). The result was Matter Center—an Office 365 add-in and SharePoint-based document collaboration solution that seeks to increase productivity for legal professionals while supporting seamless access from any device.
Today, together with our partners in CELA, we are very pleased to make Matter Center available to a broad community of developers through GitHub. This is exciting for a number of reasons:
- Proven usefulness—Matter Center allows developers to rapidly deliver great solutions for users in the legal space.
- Office platform demonstration—Matter Center clearly demonstrates the capabilities of Office as a solutions platform.
- Solution collaboration—By posting Matter Center on GitHub and opening up for Pull Requests, we hope to extend our innovation through a compelling model for collaboration with developers and partners around the world.
We are confident that Matter Center will be immediately useful for legal professionals. These professionals at Microsoft have the same set of business productivity demands as their peers at other companies, firms and industries. It is critical to be able to organize and quickly find project content, emails, attachments and collaborate with team members of the organization—both internally and externally. And because Matter Center was designed with the needs of legal users first and foremost and then actually deployed and proven within CELA, we know that it will be broadly useful for other legal customers. The terminology in Matter Center may be legal specific, but the scenarios enabled in it have applicability in a broad range of professions.
Office platform demonstration
Matter Center takes advantage of all the deep enterprise content management capabilities of SharePoint and offers many additional benefits by being integrated into the Office 365 platform, including: integration with Outlook and Word, rich content search and discovery with Delve, analytics with Power BI, personal document storage and collaboration with OneDrive for Business, extensive compliance, management and security and a growing list of capabilities as Office 365 continues to move forward.
We followed a few simple principles while developing the solution, which included keeping the user experience centered within the Office tools where our attorneys spend their time, providing access without installing additional software on the desktop and ensuring all content is available and accessible anywhere, on any device and at any time through Office 365.
The solution has been was such a hit internally that we decided to extend it beyond our four walls. We’ve since worked with IT solution providers and software vendors who service the legal industry to use Matter Center as a model for how solutions can be built with Office 365. Our partners were empowered to deploy the solution to their customers and build on top of our technology and extend Matter Center in a customized way that addresses the entire matter document management lifecycle—including bulk email management and ethical wall integration scenarios.
In the repository, you will find the full source code, deployment guidance and additional resources to help you get Matter Center up and running in your own environments. We have also published a solution roadmap, where we articulate main areas of focus over the coming months. Together, with our expanded contribution community on GitHub, we will actively drive technical and feature enhancements.
We are excited to see what new productivity scenarios the developer community can unlock using Matter Center. And taking it even further, we are excited about using Open Source projects as a way to collaborate with developers around the world, not just the team that happens to be located next door.
The below are just a few examples of how our partners are already paving new ways for legal professionals to collaborate:
“As our customers adopt Office 365, they’re demanding strong internal confidentiality controls to secure, govern and track access to sensitive information. Intapp Walls provides these capabilities, and we’re excited to extend support for Office 365 and Matter Center, enabling organizations to centrally manage security across both their on-premises and cloud-based systems, to better integrate and manage a unified IT environment.”
—Thad Jampol, chief technology officer at Intapp
“By integrating Litéra ChangePro into Matter Center, lawyers can not only see immediately the changes in documents received as attachments, they can also file a redline mark-up version into their Matter libraries along with the original. In fact, all revisions made to a Matter Center library document can be instantly viewed and accurately compared so that a history of all changes are tracked and auditable. Conversely, when lawyers send attachments from a Matter Center library, Litéra Metadact automatically cleans the hidden metadata contained in all documents, so that ABA Ethics Codes for protecting client privacy are honored and the firm’s IT compliance requirements are maintained.”
—Norm Thomas, vice president of Business Development at Litéra
“Epona legal customers needed a solution for email filing capabilities for the mobile workforce in Outlook Web Access. The Matter Center deployment model on Office 365 delivers some of these capabilities natively. By integrating with Matter Center, Epona can now offer clients a choice of user interfaces for email management via: web, add-in and our traditional desktop deployment. This enables our clients to transition to the cloud at their own pace.”
—Bart van Wanroij, director of Software Products at Epona
“Handshake Software customers that are interested in using Office 365 for document management see the value in Matter Center, but have asked us to extend its capabilities to include bulk management of email and better integration with line-of-business systems. As part of our legal market-leading suite of web based products, Handshake Software provides solutions that integrate Matter Center and the line-of-business systems used by our large legal customers. Having access to the source code for Matter Center makes it much easier to tightly integrate the Handshake Software extensions and the core logic of Matter Center.”
—Don Waldo, chief technology officer at Handshake Software
“McKennon Law Group has worked with Ubiquity Wave to deploy Matter Center for Office 365 into its cloud production environment for its active legal matters. Matter Center for Office 365 was the right solution for our virtual access need. This solution has provided us a pervasive way to access our content and take our active case work with us wherever we go, in the Microsoft Cloud. We are now able to access information instantaneously from anywhere, anytime and from virtually any device. This has greatly increased our productivity.
“Now, with LawToolBox being integrated into Matter Center for Office 365, we can manage deadlines and it provides ease of generating calendars per case or attorney. By using these two solutions in conjunction it is easy to manage important deadlines. We now have full access to our calendaring system at anytime from anywhere.”
—Robert McKennon, attorney and founding partner at the McKennon Law Group
Want to participate?
Join us! Matter Center already has several partners and dedicated core committers. Your Pull Requests and code are appreciated; please talk to the team and comment on issues before submitting any major Pull Requests.
Big thanks to the teams that made this possible. This is only the beginning. We are dedicated, determined and focused on building a thriving community surrounding a positive and successful Matter Center experience as an example solution for productivity for Office 365 add-ins.
Having trouble with Matter Center? Notice a bug? Check-out frequently asked questions and if you don’t see your issue resolved, please open an issue in GitHub. Additionally, you can reach out to any of early community members and partners.