Posting again from a Starbucks in Seattle (natuarlly). Had some time to run through a couple of demos today as well as catching some of the sessions. Highlights include:
- The RibbonX UI in Office 2007 really cleans up the steps required to create Office user interface customizations. Everything gets packaged in a customUI folder in the ZIP archive used to represent Office documents (see yesterday’s post). These can either be tied to the default document (i.e. normal.dot for Word) so that they appear when you start up the application or they can be packaged with individual documents to create custom user interfaces for specific documents. Given the ease of adding capabilities to these documents via any .NET language this makes a compelling argument for using Word or Excel as a client platform versus the somewhat less responsive and certainly less rich web browser. One amusing note – a Microsoft rep made an offhand comment about their looking into licensing the RibbonX “look and feel” out to interested parties which gave me flashbacks to previous situations where these issue came into play. Guess the shoe is on the other foot these days… :) In any case RibbonX is a great improvement over previous Office UI customization schemes and for more info you can check out Jensen Harris’ blog. Every Thursday is RibbonX day!
- With version 3 SharePoint Services will finally have real workflow. Previously documents could be new, approved or denied and could move between those three states. This isn’t terribly exciting or even useful for any non-trivial (i.e. real world) workflow situation. The new version, however, has full workflow capabilities. This is great because internally with our firm we have run into a number of situations where we resort to emai to implement workflow processes (with the expected associated issues) and we have had to purchase expensive 3rd party libraries for a number of our clients deploying SharePoint solutions. Having this baked into the platform will be a big help.
- There has been a huge focus on development tools for this iteration of the Office System release. Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO or “visto” which sounds too much like “Vista” for my liking…) allowed for powerful .NET programming of Office 2003 applications. For the 2007 release this will be even better. As the office system APIs (especially web services APIs) improve it makes it much easier to build fairly sophisticated applications on the Office clients with relatively little code.
That is all for Day 2. One day left – watch this space.
dan _at_ denimgroup.com