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Thursday, August 02, 2012

SpotLight: Developing Content Apps for Excel 2013 & AX 2012 (Part I)

I hope everyone is having a great week thus far! I wanted to continue my spotlight series this morning on Developing Apps for Office 2013. Earlier this week, I started this spotlight with a focus around the developer training videos that are currently released around this topic. You can find the link to that post here.: Spotlight: Apps for Office 2013 - future value add for Microsoft Dynamics AX Customers

For me, as I stated in the first post, this is going to be a place where a lot of value added solutions will start to form for Microsoft Dynamics AX. Being that Office will continue to be the UX of choice for many processes for AX 2012 instances and use cases. We see this already with items like Budgeting in AX 2012, as well as the development and use of the Office Add-in.

Because of this fact, I wanted to start a series around developing office apps that interact and work with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, as well as the cloud. The idea, at first is a focus around how such Office apps can communicate with AX. In order to understand this we need to get a lay of the land, for the development approach and model for such apps.

With that in mind, my first focus was the type of apps that can be developed for Excel 2013. This is why I highlight the above, 4. Develop Content apps for Office 2013 with Visual Studio 2011(demo).

There is a couple of points to make right away, in that first off it's now Visual Studio 2012 RC. These videos were made with beta versions of both Office 15, now known as Office 2013, as well as Visual Studio 2011 beta, now known as Visual Studio 2012 RC. Further Office Apps, in these video's, specifically on the project types were called project Agave.

With these semantics understood, in watching this video and some of the others that build up to this point, it's clear that the types of technologies that will be used for developing such apps are.:
  • HTML / HTML5
  • CSS 3.0+
  • JavsScript

This really should not be much of a surprise, seeing as how these targeted apps are meant to work with OnPrim versions of Office, as well as being easily ported to cloud based versions of Office. This fits into the published model Microsoft has for software development in their new world. That being of either XAML + C# or HTML5 + CSS + JavaScript.

The video is a nice Hello World, for content apps for Office 2013. Which I will further point out, at this time only Excel 2013 can be targeted for content apps. Further there are a few different types of app templates that you can target, and in due time we will get to those.

Having this knowledge, and understanding the next step is connecting AX 2012 to a content app for Excel 2013. Being the focus is around HTML/CSS+JavaScript this means that we need to consume services from AX via REST, or RESTful service consumption. In doing so, then we can target specific content apps, that add value to Microsoft Dynamics AX customers.

That sets us up for the next part in this series, consuming Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 services via REST from within a content app for Office 2013. Before I close out for today's post, and the start of this series, I want to point to you one last resource on this topic. The following has a host of examples already for this focus, and something that I myself will try and reference as we continue down this path. Further, I will take the example that we create during this series and make sure to add to the following.: Apps for Office and SharePoint Samples

Well that's all for this post, I hope your as excited about the value added proposition of such app possibilities as I am. It's a brave new, app focused world - Office and Microsoft Dynamics are apart of that model. Till Next Time!

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