Microsoft is delivering a slew of developer-centric news and technology at its Microsoft Office System Developer Conference; Office developer-centric, that is.
The Microsoft’s Office developer conference in San Jose, Calif., officially kicks off Feb. 11 with a keynote address by the outgoing Microsoft chairman. There, Bill Gates will announce a series of new offerings, including the release of Office Live Small Business Winter ’08 edition, a Federal Express solution built using Office, new Office Business Application (OBA) sample application kits for SAP and Peoplesoft, version 1.1 of Visual Studio Extensions for Windows SharePoint Services, the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the BizTalk adapter pack, and a new OBA component library for financial services.
Microsoft also plans to announce the winner of a series of all-night Office application development coding contests that will culminate in San Jose, as well as the winner of the OBA of the year.
“Bill is very passionate about the Office platform and is taking this opportunity to keynote despite his plans to leave his daily responsibilities this summer,” said Chris Bryant, senior product manager, Office Platform Strategy.
The Office Live Small Business Winter ’08 release provides a developer opportunity to service more than 550,000 small businesses, Bryant said. The update of Microsoft Office Live Small Business is a single, free offering with a-la-carte premium add-on services, the company said. The technology is built on Office and Windows Live technologies, with SharePoint at the core and native connections to Office clients.
Meanwhile, at the Office developer conference, David Zanca, senior vice president for e-commerce technology, FedEx Services, will join Gates on stage to announce the new QuickShip application from FedEx.
QuickShip makes Outlook a launch point for creating FedEx shipments, said Charlie Hicks, Director IT, FedEx Integration Services.
With QuickShip, users can go from Outlook contact information to a FedEx shipping label in just a few steps, Hicks said. And the application tracks shipment history and provides an easy access point for FedEx account information, he said.
“It’s a customizable service and you can do print jobs direct from Word,” Bryant said.
Broader, Deeper Integration
Meanwhile, Zanca is slated to show FedEx’s vision for broader, deeper integration of its printing and shipping services in Microsoft Office – both Office clients and SharePoint, Hicks said.
“We’re using Web services to create connections,” said Suzette Egnot, manager IT, FedEx Integration Services. QuickShip is “built on our Web services and allows users to ship directly out of Outlook,” Egnot said.
FedEx has a FedEx Developer Resource Center where the company offers a series of Web services and plug-ins for developers to take advantage of better leveraging the FedEx platform and do business with the worldwide courier giant. FedEx Web services enable developers to integrate FedEx shipping functionality into software programs, Web sites or other environments.
“We use Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008, and we rely heavily on Visual Studio Tools for Office [VSTO], Egnot said.
“Our intent is to provide connections where the customers are so they don’t have to leave the applications they’re working in,” Egnot said.
“This is an example of software delivery via a service model, using real-world business services,” Bryant said.
FedEx has made heavy use of VSTO, Egnot said.
Added Bryant: “It’s a tremendous enabler giving developers the power to have, from managed tools, the Outlook Office model to build interesting applications.”
He said the improvements through Visual Studio 2008 and improvements in VSTO and technologies such as the Office Ribbon Designer are enabling people to “divorce themselves from custom UIs [user interfaces].”
Meanwhile, the new OBA sample kits for SAP and for Peoplesoft are working OBA templates for connectivity to SAP and Peoplesoft data sources.
And although the BizTalk adapter pack will RTM at the Office developer conference, the technology will not see general availability until March 1, Bryant said.
The BizTalk Adapter pack is a set of application adapters for Siebel, SAP and Oracle to enable customers to surface line-of-business data directly into familiar interfaces such as Microsoft Office or any client using Web services, Bryant said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft held “Sleepless” contests in various cities around the country to have teams compete for $100,000 in prizes. Contests were held in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Atlanta. Winners from all of those events will meet for an ultimate “Sleepless” contest during the Office developer conference, where a final winner will be announced, Microsoft officials said.