Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 – March 2014 Update

Today at SharePoint Conference 2014, the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 – March 2014 Update was made available to download. This update contains a ton of new features that improves support for Office 365 Cloud Business Apps and LightSwitch projects as well as apps for Office & SharePoint in Visual Studio 2013.

Read the announcement on the Visual Studio Team Blog.

Download the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 – March 2014 Update.

This update builds upon the Visual Studio 2013 release and all the great LightSwitch features you already have to build cross-browser, mobile-first HTML5 apps that you can optionally publish to a SharePoint 2013 app catalog. There are many more features in this update that I think LightSwitch developers will enjoy. Besides design-time performance improvements and bug fixes there are some new features I’d like to specifically call out.

Attaching to Enterprise Data

In addition to attaching to databases, SharePoint, OData Services and WCF RIA Services, this update also offers first class support for SAP Netweaver Gateway. When connecting to SAP, it honors SAP annotations for Phone, WebAddress, and Email; speeding up the configuration of entities consumed from SAP Netweaver Gateway.


Whether you’re building a LightSwitch application or Cloud Business App, you’ll notice that the Attach Data Source Wizard has been updated to handle much larger data sources and schemas. You now have the ability to search for specific entities and discover their relationship to other entities before you select them, as well as browse the data. We also now support complex data types.

The data designer has also been updated to handle these larger schemas and draw more efficiently. You’ll also notice little things like multi-select of data fields in an entity so you can set properties across them all, as well as sorting them.

Improved HTML Controls & “Common Screen Set” Template

When you build screens from your data model, we set you up with smart defaults on controls depending on the data types of fields. In this release we’ve improved our most used controls as well as provided a new Common Screen Set template that will create and wire up all the screens necessary to Browse & Search, Update, and View data. This speeds up the design and development of your apps. You can also now organize these screens into sub-folders in the Solution Explorer.


You’ll enjoy improvements to the Table control, which now supports sorting out of the box, the Picker control, which now supports auto-complete, as well as Summary properties which now associate themselves with the right controls corresponding to the data type.


Bookmarking and Improved “Edit & Refresh”

Often users want to bookmark a page in your application so they can get back to the data directly later. In this release, we’ve updated the screen URLs to make it easy for bookmarking right out of the box, without requiring you write code. Users can bookmark a page, or pin a page to the start screen on their mobile device, and always get back to that page in the application. The icon used is your application’s user-logo (in the Content folder of the client).


As a fallout of this, we now have improved “Edit & Refresh” for quick screen development. You can run your app and make changes to any of the screens or JavaScript files and simply refresh your browser to see the changes. However, you used to have to drill into the particular data screens to see those screen updates. In this release, when you make a change to the client code or screens and refresh your browser, the browser will automatically navigate back to the exact screen you were viewing.

Integrating Document Libraries

Documents are critical pieces of information in many business applications. That’s why we added controls in this release for integrating with SharePoint document libraries for SharePoint-enabled LightSwitch and Cloud Business Apps.

This allows users to create new Office documents (either blank documents or from document templates that are available in the attached document library), open documents in the corresponding Office Web App or Office client (if installed), and upload existing documents. All of this is provided without requiring you to write code.


Download the Free Update & Learn More!

What are you waiting for? This is a free update for Visual Studio 2013 and we know you’ll love it. Just click on the link to kick off the Web Platform Installer:

Download the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 – March 2014 Update

Also check out my unscripted “How Do I…?” instructional video series I started on Channel 9 on building Cloud Business Apps. This is just a start, I plan on releasing more in the coming weeks.

Cloud Business Apps “How Do I…?” videos on Channel 9

The team also has a full pipeline of blog posts in the hopper that will drill into the details of all these features and more, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out our updated documentation. And if you have questions or need help troubleshooting please visit the Visual Studio LightSwitch forum.


Beth Massi, Visual Studio Community