This morning at the Microsoft Build Developer conference in San Francisco, S. Somasegar, Corporate VP for Developer Division, announced Visual Studio 2013 Preview. It’s an exciting moment for the Office Developer Tools team because of the great effort the team put in for this release.

Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 Preview provides tons of great features to help you build apps for Office, apps for SharePoint, and SharePoint farm and sandboxed solutions. If you’ve been working on Office or SharePoint development using the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012, you’re probably familiar with the Web Platform Installer acquisition experience to get the tools. With Visual Studio 2013, you’ll get all those features without taking any extra time to download and install the tools—it’s all included in Visual Studio 2013. What’s more, the team also introduced more new features in this release to provide even better assistance when you build apps for Office and SharePoint.

MVC web application support for apps for SharePoint

Now you can choose to create an MVC (Model View Controller) web application project when creating a provider-hosted or autohosted app for SharePoint project. The updated app for SharePoint project creation wizard will guide you through the process of creating the projects:

Figure 1: Create an MVC web application project for an app for SharePointFigure 1: Create an MVC web application project for an app for SharePoint

In addition to this wizard, you also get the option to create an MVC web application project when you change your app hosting type from SharePoint-hosted to provider-hosted or autohosted through the manifest editor.

Creating an MVC project for an app for SharePoint is just the first step in building the app. You’ll need to handle a lot of other things when you develop the app—the most complex being web-to-SharePoint communication. The MVC project created in this case is equipped with the sample code that demonstrates how you can do web-to-SharePoint communication for different scenarios.

Figure 2: Code samples and page templates are provided with the MVC web application project for apps for SharePointFigure 2: Code samples and page templates are provided with the MVC web application project for apps for SharePoint

Publishing Manager for apps for Office and SharePoint

Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 Preview provides a new Publishing Manager to help you get all the required packages ready for publishing. To publish apps for Office and provider-hosted apps for SharePoint, you will need both the manifest file (for apps for Office) or the app package (for apps for SharePoint) produced from the app project and the web deploy packaged from the web project. The Publishing Manager is a portal to help you get everything ready for publishing. It contains the links to a different publishing dialog box/wizard for the app and the web project, and the links to the resources that you may need during publishing. Figure 3 shows the Publishing Manager for a provider-hosted app for SharePoint project:

Figure 3: App for SharePoint Publishing ManagerFigure 3: App for SharePoint Publishing Manager

Figure 4 shows the Publishing Manager for an app for Office project:

Figure 4: App for Office Publishing ManagerFigure 4: App for Office Publishing Manager

What’s new In “Napa”?

If you want to build apps for Office and SharePoint, but you don’t have Visual Studio installed or aren’t ready to install Visual Studio 2013 Preview, “Napa” Office 365 Development Tools is definitely a service you shouldn’t miss. “Napa” is a browser-based online development experience you can use to start building apps for Office and SharePoint without having to install Visual Studio or Office 2013. “Napa” is available as a free app that you can have in your Office 365 SharePoint Developer Site. This means that as long as you have signed up for an Office 365 Developer Site, you can use “Napa” anywhere. This enables you to build apps from any machine through your web browser, thanks to the power of the cloud.

Once you are ready to continue developing with the full power of Visual Studio, you can transition smoothly to Visual Studio with just one click of the “Open in Visual Studio” button. If you are using Visual Studio 2012, “Napa” gives you all the tools you need to start working in Visual Studio right away. If you install Visual Studio 2013 Preview, you can make the switch with no issues—“Napa” already supports it!

This is part of an effort to make sure you always get great tooling support with the latest platform changes, which is possible thanks to the continuous updates “Napa” provides on a weekly cadence. In the past few months, “Napa” has shipped the following key features with these updates:

  • Task Pane Apps for Office can now be launched in the Excel Web App and the PowerPoint desktop program. This means that you can now build Task Pane apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; it also means that you don’t need to have Office 2013 installed on your machine to run Excel Task Pane apps. Additionally, it also lets you use your favorite browser’s debugging tools to debug Task Pane apps, allowing you to have more of the development flow completely in the cloud.
  • You can now create new documents within “Napa” to use with your apps for Office. More importantly, you can also edit these new documents and any other documents that you upload to your project without ever leaving “Napa”. This lets you create or modify a document with data straight from your browser and then set your apps to launch in the documents to test them more thoroughly. These documents are stored inside your project, so you can access them from any place where you can access “Napa”, even if the computer you’re using doesn’t have Office 2013 installed.

If you want to learn about other new features in the Visual Studio 2013 Preview, check out Somasegar’s blog for more details. Last but not least, try Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 Preview today, and please feel free to let us know if you have any questions, comments, or feedback.

Enjoy!

Xiaoying Guo

Program Manager, Office Developer Tools