I first wrote about developing Office Apps for education last year, with ideas for our partners to think about some of the processes that education customers do all of the time and asking if they could be made easier with Office Apps (things like developing simple forms for staff absence, student assignment workflow or resource booking systems). And since then I’ve provided a few updates here and here on more resources to help get started. There are so many scenarios where I can see that the lives of staff in an education institution could be made so much easier through being able to simply launch a process or app from within Word, Excel or PowerPoint, rather than having to leave on application and go over to a completely different system for a task.
Whether you are a developer in a Microsoft partner, or perhaps just an education user with some technical skills that fancies having a crack at developing an app, there is a huge amount of additional information available on the Apps for Office and SharePoint blog
Here’s some of the ideas that I’ve picked up from the blog:
How to publish apps to the Office store [Link]
In addition to the blog articles themselves, there’s a new community forum on MSDN, monitored by the Office Store team, that provides support publishing apps for the Office store.
Getting data from the Windows Azure marketplace into your Office app [Link]
The Azure marketplace has large sets of data that are really useful in many education apps – and many of them are free. Some of the examples of free data sets include world economic and other data like UN National Accounts Official Country Data, UN Demographic Statistics, Energy Statistics from the UN for 215 countries, Occupational Employment Statistics, Historical Weather Data, and Protein Databank of 3D Biological Macromolecular Structures.
An example of how you might use this data would be to integrate the occupational employment statistics into a ePortfolio or career planning app on SharePoint, so that you can start to provide deeper insights into career choices and options.
Code samples for Apps for Office [Link]
The team have published over 100 sample code items that can be used directly, or that you can learn from to understand how to develop more complex apps. It includes things like accessing and storing data, authenticating apps, creating workflows, taking surveys in SharePoint, approval workflows and making calls through VOIP dialling.
Get attachments in a mail app [Link]
This seems really handy, as I can imagine scenarios which will make life much easier. For example, you could build a student assignment app where students can send back their work via email, and the app downloads the attachments into the correct SharePoint library for staff to then assess. Or how about an app that automatically takes school parental permission forms sent by email, and adds them into your document store tagged against the student.
Those are just of the examples, and scenarios I saw, from the info published on blog. I’d recommend if you’ve got the right level of technical knowledge, it’s worthwhile reading and following the blog. And if you’re using Office 365, it might also fire off some ideas of how you could make life easier for staff in your institution – either by developing in-house, or raising the sights of the Microsoft partners that you work with.