A few weeks back, I highlighted our release of the Windows Azure SDK for .NET, an updated version of the SDK with full support for Visual Studio 2012.  This release was in line with our continued goal of having tools available for platforms on the same cadence as those platforms. Today, I’m excited to share another such set of platform-focused releases from the Visual Studio team: previews of the “Napa” – Office 365 Development Tools, and the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012.

Hundreds of millions of customers worldwide use Office and SharePoint, enabling a thriving ecosystem where untold numbers of developers create solutions for these environments.  Historically, Visual Studio has fueled that ecosystem by providing rich client tools for developing these solutions.  We’re continuing and extending this trend.  This week, we announced Office and SharePoint 2013 and the immediate availability of a preview release.  In conjunction, we’ve also made available previews of tools to get started building great apps for it.

“Napa” provides a lightweight, browser-based companion to the Visual Studio rich client and is a great way to get started with Office and SharePoint development without having to install anything onto your machine.  Available through http://dev.office.com/, it supports building apps for Office and SharePoint, apps which can be surfaced through an Office 2013 application (e.g. Excel), through an Office Web App (e.g. Excel Web App), or through SharePoint.  These apps are based on a new Cloud App Model, where UI and other client-side logic is implemented with web standards (e.g. HTML, JavaScript, CSS) and where any back-end app logic runs on a server, giving developers the freedom to use their choice of development tools, languages, and hosting environments.

Developers can get started building these apps with “Napa” and its editor for reading, writing, and navigating code; then as projects grow, it’s seamless to transition them to the more powerful Visual Studio client and to continue developing using the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012, which of course also support the existing extensibility models of Office and SharePoint.

Try out the experience today at http://dev.office.com, and let us know what you think.

For a tour through “Napa” and the productive experience it provides for building apps for Office and SharePoint, see Jason Zander’s introductory post.

Namaste!