Build 2016: Microsoft reveals what's new for Office developers

At its ongoing Build 2016, Microsoft shared its latest stage of updates for the Office Developer Platform.

At its ongoing Build 2016, Microsoft shared its latest stage of updates for the Office Developer Platform.

Add-in Commands, shares the Office blog, makes add-ins more discoverable and efficient to use. Developers can create native UI extensions for the Office365 suite which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. It also enables adding new buttons to existing Office tabs, creating custom tabs or extending contextual menus. Then, upon triggering the commands, it shows custom HTML based UI or executes JavaScript code behind the scenes. The Office Add-ins will also work with Office365 for Mac.

Developers can now build more Excel add-ins with numerous new APIs. They can also leverage over 300 Excel functions directly from JavaScript with worksheet functions APIs, which combines the power of Excel and JavaScript.

Office Add-in Deployment Management is also now simplified and can be deployed directly to users with no user interaction.

Word Online has now enabled most of the common API sets for add-ins. In particular, add-ins can now insert, remove, read, and update bindings there. In April, Word Online will enable support for most of the Word 1.1 API set, including the Body, ContentControl, Document, Font, Image, Paragraph, Range, and Selection objects.

Office add-ins will also work in OneNote Online. This uses the same manifest.xml and web site calling the Office JavaScript APIs as the other Office clients that support add-ins. This will be available in OneNote online first in preview, followed by OneNote for Windows desktop later in the year.

Microsoft has also enabled sideloading in Office Online, which makes it easier to test add-ins in the Office web clients, since there is no longer the need for a developer tenant. It also means developing add-ins without Office installed on the computer and using any OS.

Also, a feature called module extensibility allows app developers the ability to create new modules within Outlook. Similar to Outlook’s native mail, calendar and task modules developers can now provide their users with their own module which will host their app’s content. This new functionality is based on the existing Add-ins platform which allows extending Office applications using web technologies.

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