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Napa Tools – Merging SharePoint with Apps

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Microsoft recently demoed a set of tools under the working title “Napa.” The toolset will allow companies to combine the next versions of SharePoint and Office with the app market. Apps produced for the upcoming Cloud App Model will make it possible for users to host an App through SharePoint, a Windows Azure website, or from their own server.

 In addition, companies will be able to privately share apps for internal operations. These will be available through an internal App Catalog

From the press releases and demos, it looks as though Microsoft is trying to expand the definition of what will be considered an app in the future. An MSDN article described the new Office Apps as “a webpage that is hosted inside an Office client application [which will] extend the functionality of a document, email message, meeting request, or appointment.”

 These apps will be designed to run on desktops, mobile browsers, Office Web Apps, in the cloud, and on premises. This will dramatically extend the reach of documents and expand the already flexible capabilities of SharePoint by making it simpler to take advantage of interfaces that most business professionals are already accustomed to using.

 The new set of tools will make it fairly simple to design a SharePoint or Office web app from within the same browser that it will be typically run in. It will be deployed as a free development environment for SharePoint and is meant as a simpler companion to Visual Studio. Being a web-powered tool, nothing will need to be installed on the device in order to start developing or viewing the apps. When developers need more advanced tools, they can easily switch over to Visual Studio.

 Microsoft stressed that the other extensibility models, such as VSTO, VBA, COM, and SharePoint solutions will still be available, but they will not be compatible with the upcoming Office Store.


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