I was dying to blog since I woke up this morning and finally I got a chance to sit down and share some Office “12” news with the community.
The day started with Steven Sinfosky’s Keynote, where he announced some of the coolest enhancements for Office “12” and Windows SharePoint Services “v3.” Steven started his presentation by talking about how the Office System has evolved to a results-oriented developer platform that allows extensibility thanks to the integration to XML and Web Services, Visual Studio .NET and managed code, a results oriented user interface, and the XML File Formats. Steven concluded his keynote with some great demos for InfoPath, Access, SharePoint, Excel, and Outllook. I really enjoyed to experience the joy and surprise shown by the audience as Steven presented some of the new features added to Office “12.”
We also had eight sessions today that are related to Office “12′ or Windows SharePoint Services “v3”. In a nutshell, I can share with you some of the new enhancements that were announced today and yesterday at PDC and that are related to Office “12” and Windows SharePoint Services “v3”:
Introducing and extending the Ribbon User Interface
Office “12” has a new look for client applications that replaces menus and toolbars with a Ribbon UI that organizes buttons, galleries, menus, and toolbars into tabs organized by categories. If you created special toolbars and CommandBars, the UI displays a special tab for your custom functionality. You can also extend the Ribbon UI by creating COM or managed Add-Ins or by using a text-based XML markup definition to create and customize the UI. The following picture shows a peek of the Ribbon UI:
Open XML File Formats
Office “12” provides a new XML based file format that allows interoperability and collaboration between other Microsoft Office System and third-party applications. The new XML file format replaces the previous Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Project file extensions to an open XML file format that is integrated with ZIP compressions to reduce the file size up to 75 percent. Office “12” client applications still allow you to save documents in the previous file format for backward compatibility. The files generated by Office “12” client applications are not only raw documents, now, you can use these files as a repository for data used by other applications.
InfoPath Forms services
InfoPath Forms services provide a Web browser form-filling experience for users that need to complete InfoPath forms from Web-based applications. This Web experience is built as a feature on top of the Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services “v3” platform. This feature is really cool because now you can add InfoPath forms to your ASP.NET applications.
Some Web-based applications require to host Excel and interact with spreadsheets to explore and pivot on data, calculate and set values, or analyze PivotTable reports and charts using the browser. To obtain this functionality, Microsoft introduces Excel services. Excel spreadsheet services provide you with the ability to view and interact with spreadsheets in a browser. You can calculate, create snapshots, and extract values from the workbooks. You can also programmatically generate, manage, and distribute customized Excel spreadsheets by using Excel spreadsheet services. When I knew about this I almost cried! This one was a great need that lots of customers demanded and I am happy that we have something like this now and into the future.
Access, InfoPath, Windows SharePoint Services, and Outlook integration and collaboration
Believe it or not, you can create business workflows where you can define for example and InfoPath form that is filled inside Outlook, when sent back, a WorkFlow is updated inside Windows SharePoint Services, and the data stored inside Access. Today, writing and application that accomplishes this set of tasks is a bit complex and requires many lines of code. With Office “12” and Windows SharePoint Services “v3” ease of use, collaboration, and productivity have a real meaning.
I close the day with a picture of the great Office “12” stairs at PDC: “Step Up to the Future” – Microsoft Office “12”