This week is really an exciting week for those of us who work on Office. We just released our first public offering of the Office 2010 Technical Preview. Check out the Office 2010 website for articles, videos, and demos related to this Technical Preview. In today's post I am going to talk about, at a very high-level, some of the really cool developer-centric features we are introducing in Office 2010. In the coming months, in addition to Open XML SDK based solution blog posts, we will blog about Office 2010 based solutions/scenarios.

What's New for Developers in Office 2010?

Check out John Durant's blog post, where he does a great job highlighting some of the benefits Office 2010 provides for developers.  Here is a quick summary of some key additions/tools we have made as part of the Office 2010 wave:

  • Continual innovation of the Open XML SDKThe Open XML SDK remains a big piece of our developer story for Office 2010. We've all seen a shift lately where solutions take more advantage of the cloud and services, and with that shift the need to consume, manipulate or create Office documents on the server becomes more important. The Open XML SDK is a vital tool in this new world for any developer and is a great complement to any service based solution. You've already seen this a bit in some of the services we provided in Office 2007…for example, while the Open XML SDK cannot accomplish recalculation, Excel Services can accomplish this scenario without any issues. Similarly, there may be operations that existing services aren't capable of, but the Open XML SDK is perfectly suited for (document assembly; data extraction; etc.). With this in mind, we are continuing to improve version 2 of the Open XML SDK, so that it fits in well with the new world of software + services. One big area of improvement is to make the Open XML SDK provide more robust validation, so that you will have an easier time ensuring that the server based solutions you write will create valid Office documents. Files you create with the Open XML SDK will work for both Office 2007 and Office 2010. In other words, you will now be able to use the SDK to create Office 2010 based solutions. Since the Open XML SDK will support Office 2010 based Open XML file formats, the final release of the Open XML Format SDK V2.0 will be available at the same time the final version of Office 2010 is available.
  • Tighter relationship between Office and Visual Studio – Visual Studio 2010 makes it even easier to create Office client or SharePoint based solutions. Deployment for Office client solutions created with VS will be much simpler, with less runtime requirements. In addition Visual Studio 2010 ships with more out of the box templates, which allows solutions to get off the ground quicker.
  • Even easier to create rich solutions on top of Access 2010 – Check out the following video to see all the cool improvements related to Access. This is a new model for development that we think you'll really enjoy.
  • All Office 2010 applications now have Fluent UI – The ribbon has now been added to more Office applications, like OneNote, Outlook (now is fully integrated throughout the UI), and Visio. Since the ribbon is based on XML, having all these applications incorporate the ribbon means a better extensibility story for developers.
  • Fluent UI has been improved – In Office 2010 we have added the ability for programmatically activating tabs in the Fluent UI. For example, you can now have your custom tabs behave like built in contextual tabs, where tabs only show when specific events are fired.
  • Office 2010 has a new Backstage view – One of the many UI improvements we have made in Office 2010 is the addition of a new extensible Backstage view to the products. This new UI not only improves the overall customer workflow and user experience, but also provides a rich extensible platform for developers. The Backstage view will allow you to add custom UI and elements much in the same way the ribbon provides extensibility. Check out Chris Bryant's brief intro, which showcases the Backstage in action.
  • Offload Excel calculations to High Performance Computing grids – In Excel 2007 we added multi-threaded recalculation (MTR) to Excel, including the ability for developers to create user defined functions (UDFs) that could participate in MTR.  With Excel 2010, we've gone a step further to allow massive parallelization by offloading UDFs from the local machine to a high performance computing grid, with very minimal changes to existing XLL UDFs.

Again, in the next few weeks we will be posting more Office 2010 centric posts, so stay tuned.

- Brian and Zeyad

Updated post to correct a broken link...