Customizing the compose experience with mail apps for Outlook

Today we bring you a guest post from Andrew Salamatov, a Program Manager with Exchange. Enjoy.

Writing messages and scheduling meetings often requires users to look up and include content from outside of Outlook. Frequently, users have to use software that takes them outside of Outlook to complete the task, when it would be much more efficient if they could just stay inside of the mail experience. After all, many of us live in Outlook! To help make users more productive with these scenarios, we’re excited to announce a brand new feature in the Apps for Outlook platform – apps can now customize the message and appointment compose experience across desktop, web and mobile!

This feature has already rolled out to all users in Office 365 and is included in the SP1 update to Office and Exchange 2013 that we made available at the end of February (this feature requires an Exchange 2013 SP1 mailbox). A deeper dive into compose capabilities of Apps for Outlook will be the subject of another post. I'll just mention a few highlights.

Streamlined productivity

There are many compelling scenarios out there that can really help users get things done faster. If you are interested in building compose apps, here are some to use as examples:

A survey app could enable users to send out quick polls on a topic, or get consensus on when to meet. After the poll is sent, the read version of this app can activate on this poll and allow recipients to easily vote.

A screen shot of Outlook Web App showing an example of a survey mail app.

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A template app could let users choose the right style to craft the message with, or compose messages based on legal document templates.

A screen shot of Outlook Web App on a tablet showing an example of a template app.

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And a workflow app could let users submit documents for approval.

A screen shot of Outlook Web App showing an example of a workflow app.

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Write once, run everywhere 

As with apps that are available while reading messages, a compose app can run across Outlook on your desktop, Outlook Web App in your browser, and OWA for Devices on your iPhone or iPad. In fact, you can now build an app that runs in messages and/or appointments, while the user is reading or composing!

An image showing an example template app in Outlook, OWA on a table, and OWA on a mobile phone.

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My Templates app

You can try out compose apps by using the My Templates app that comes pre-installed with Exchange. To use, simply start writing a new message. Then, choose “APPS” in Outlook Web App.

A screen shot of Outlook Web App showing the APPS button when composing a new message.

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Then select "My Templates".

A screen shot of Outlook Web App showing the "My Templates" mail app pre-installed in Exchange Online.

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Selecting any template will insert it into the body.

If you are interested in building mail apps, check out our session from SPC14 which dives into developing apps and mentions even more great scenarios, or take a look at the documentation. We will also be at MEC and Build, so if you’re around, stop by!

 Happy building!

Andrew Salamatov,

Program Manager, Microsoft Exchange


Comments (7)
  1. Mitch Denny says:

    You show a screenshot of a Dynamics CRM app published by Microsoft. I can't see that in the store. Is that pre-release?

  2. I checked with Andrew, and he assures me that despite the Dynamics name on the screenshot, these were just mock-ups of what a CRM app could look like. Hope we didn't get your hopes up!

  3. Frank says:

    Hello, do you know why read mode activation has been disabled in the case where the user is organizer of the meeting? This screws up usability completely. Compose/edit and read mode should be available.

  4. @Frank: Read mode is disabled when the organizer opens their meeting to prevent odd user experience that could arise from API differences between read and compose apps. When the organizer opens their meeting, it is actually opened in compose mode. However, we definitely understand the problem you’re describing, and we’re working on something to make this better. Stay tuned to our blog for updates.

  5. ? says:

    Is there no way you can add the specific app to the composing pane it's self, rather then having to click on apps then click the app and load it?

  6. tony says:

    How many My Templates can you have? Is there a limit on the number of My Templates that can be stored?

  7. Brittany A Canter says:

    We need the option to make the my templates open permanently. That way it opens every time we need to compose a message.

Comments are closed.

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