Office Dev Con 2006: Day 1

I’m posting about Day 1 of the Office Dev Con in Redmond from one of the million or so Starbucks  coffee locations in the area.  Lots of good stuff from Day 1 of the conference and I don’t have time to go into everyting in detail just yet.  Highlights are:

  • Office 2007 will be natively using the new XML document formats.  The .doc files (or whatever) are actually ZIP archives of a collection of XML documents, which is pretty cool.  Haven’t had a chance to look under the hood of this too much to date, but the demos walked through opening up a file, changing some of the component pieces and then showing the changes to the resulting rendered document.  Microsoft (along with Intel and some others) have started a group for the exchange of ideas and best practices surrounding the Open XML Formats.  The site is at www.openxmldeveloper.org – in the words of Bill Gates from his keynote today “No organization is good unless it has the word ‘open’ in the name.”  Good stuff.
  • With the release of ASP.NET 2.0 the infrastructure for hosting Web Parts has shifted from Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) to the ASP.NET framework.  This makes for much better integration between ASP.NET 2.0 and SharePoint Portal Server 2007 and much easier development for SharePoint solutions.
  • As has been discussed here before, the combination of SharePoint Portal Server and Rights Management Services provides a lot of the underpinning infrastructure required to fulfill a variety of policy enforcement, auditing and compliance goals.  That was true of the 2003 versions of the technology and is even more the case with the upcoming 2007 releases.
  • The Excel Server looks to be very cool.  Power users have been comfortable building fairly sophisticated applications with Excel for years.  The only problem was that these spreadsheets got stored on local hard drives or network shares where they couldn’t be effectively shared or change controlled.  As these spreadsheets get moved to the web it will be even easier for non-developers to use a familiar toolset (Excel) to create sophisticated modeling and calculation applications that can be shared over the network via web services.

So far so good.  No huge surprises thusfar but actually seeing these pieces work together (albeit during scripted demos) is encouraging.  Building collaboration and business intelligence applications will be getting a lot easier moving forward – more can be done by power users and administrators rather than developers and when developers do have to write code the integration with the Visual Studio 2005/TeamSystem tools will help keep effort to a minimum.  Now Microsoft will just have to convince enterprises that the upgrade is worth it.

–Dan
dan _at_ denimgroup.com

About Dan Cornell

A globally recognized application security expert, Dan Cornell holds over 15 years of experience architecting, developing and securing web-based software systems. As the Chief Technology Officer and a Principal at Denim Group, Ltd., he leads the technology team to help Fortune 500 companies and government organizations integrate security throughout the development process. He is also the original creator of ThreadFix, Denim Group's industry leading application vulnerability management platform.
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