How Windows 10 virtual desktops help me with Office 365 development

In this article I will show how the Windows 10 virtual desktops help keep my brain organized for Office 365 development. It allows me to keep my Chrome Primary work profile for email etc completely separate from my developer tenat Chrome profile. It helps keep me more organized when working on multiple projects as well.

Background

Anyone who has more than one development and primary Office 365 account has come across the age old problem of which environment am I currently working in. Using Chrome profiles as a number of people have blogged about has been a huge help in this. Having a Chrome profile for dev tenant and profile for primary account (work email etc) is a huge help.

But the downside is many instances of chrome floating around and when you click on a link in Outlook it opens in the last Chrome window you were working on – which is frustrating at the best of times when your dev tenant says you dont have access to your primary email (duh) and then you have to hunt down the primary profile window and go back to outlook and start again.

Windows 10 Virtual Desktop

This is where the virtual desktop has really become my best friend for Office365 development. In the latest version of Windows 10 you can easily make a virtual desktop by adding the “Show Task View button” from the context menu when right clicking on the windows task bar.

Clicking on the Task icon brings up the option to create a new virtual desktop and also a view of some of things you have worked on recently.

Opening a new virtual desktop everything is blank and you can open Chrome and go to your dev chrome profile happily.

Switching between desktops

You can go through the process of Task View and clicking on the desktop you want

OR

You can use CTRL-WINDOWSKEY-Left/Right to navigate back and forth between the desktops. They don’t cycle but if you only have two then Left or Right isn’t that hard 🙂

Clicking a link in outlook

If I am working in desktop 2 (O365Dev) and I go back to Desktop 1(primary O365), clicking a link in the primary O365 Outlook opens the link in the primary desktop chrome profile. Always.

YAY 🙂

Mentally this also helps me keep my Director day job (primary O365) and dev environment (xomino365) separate and makes life easier.

It’s not for everyone but really helps me 🙂

Extra Bonus shortcut

I discovered by accident (as you do) that you can create a new Virtual desktop using the CTRL key and a three-finger down swipe on the laptop.

 

 

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Office Add-Ins: Working with Tables in Word. Part 3: Two methods for getting existing tables

In this article I will demonstrate a method for getting to a Table using the prescribed methods in the API context.body.

Background

In previous articles we jhave seen how to create a table from scratch using the API or using OOXML. In this article we will look at how to reference an existing table and get a handle on it. We are going to look at two methods, one direct and one indirect, both have advantages and disadvantages.

Getting a table via the API directly

Within the the API model you can access all tables through the context.document.body.tables

The Methods (at leave in v1.3) are rather limiting and you cannot get a Table directly by name or id.

        const tableCollection = context.document.body.tables;

and from there you can reference each table individually through the index.

            theTable = tableCollection.items[i]

What this does not however facilitate is getting the table you want, directly. Let’s say I want to get the Insects table from the image below – how do I get that?

Well if you KNOW it is the nth table in the document then you are fine – but the chances are you don’t or at best can’t be sure.

Testing each table

What you can do is cycle through all the tables in the collection and test the first cell. I have specifically created these tables in such a manner that the first cell in the table is testable. Cycling through all the tables allows me to do a simple test of the first cell and if it is Insects then I know I am in the right table.

In this example we get all tables and then once we have the Insects table I insert a row:

async function runAllTables() {
    await Word.run(async (context) => {

        const tableCollection = context.document.body.tables;
        // Queue a commmand to load the results.
        context.load(tableCollection);
        await context.sync()
        //cycle through the tbale collection and test the first cell of each table looking for insects
        for (var i = 0; i < tableCollection.items.length; i++) {
            var theTable = null;
            theTable = tableCollection.items[i];
            var cell1 = theTable.values[0][0];
            if (cell1 == "Insects") {
                //once found, load the table in memory and add a row
                context.load(theTable, '');
                await context.sync();
                let numRows = theTable.rowCount.toString()
                theTable.addRows("End", 1, [[numRows, "Lightning Bug"]])
            }
        }
    });
}

As the number of tables in the document increase this gets slower and slower (understandably). There is also a limitation on the fact that you might not be able to identify the Table with a value in the first cell as easily (depends on requirements). As you can see from this example in the console.log I added the length of time to complete the addRow and it is 77ms on three tables. If I copy and past the first two tables and make a lot more of them you can see the speed gets slower (124ms) which might not seem like a lot, but in a large document with lots of large tables it can become significant to the end user.

Searching for a word in the document, and then getting the table parent

If you are able to identify a string in your table, you can search for that string and then get the parentTable. That method for finding your table is much more efficient and faster than getting all tables in a collection as per the previous method.

In this example we search for Insects, get the parentTable and then simply insert a row with a new value

async function runSearch() {
    await Word.run(async (context) => {
        const body = context.document.body 
        const insectRangeCollection = body.search("Insects");
        // Queue a commmand to load the results.
        context.load(insectRangeCollection);
        await context.sync()
        //get the parent table from the search result range
        const table1 = insectRangeCollection.getFirst().parentTable
        context.load(table1, '');
        await context.sync()
        let numRows2 = table1.rowCount.toString()
        table1.addRows("End", 1, [[numRows2, "Butterfly"]])
    });
}

As with the previous example – if I copy and paste the first two tables and make a lot more of them, you will see that this search and add row process remains approx the same speed as before.

 

Conclusion

While neither of these methods are ideal, if you know what is possible before you start to create your solution you can work in your options. Not having an obvious getTableById method is somewhat limiting.

Office Add-ins community call

“The Office Add-ins community call is our quarterly event for developers to connect in real-time with the folks who are building the Office Add-ins platform and JavaScript APIs.”

The fact that we have a general office Add-in community call now is fantastic and shows how significant the community is to the product group.

The call was blogged and posted here: https://dev.office.com/blogs/office-add-ins-community-call-april-11-2018

The next Office Add-ins community call will be on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. You can download a recurring quarterly calendar invite at https://aka.ms/officeaddinscommunitycall.

 

Outlook Add-ins community call

Back in March the Outlook Add-In development community had it’s quarterly meeting. The notes from the meeting were blogged and released here: https://dev.office.com/blogs/outlook-community-call-march-21-2018.

These calls are really helpful to spread the new on the progress being made in the Outlook Add-In area. Some really interesting points of notes at this call were the upcoming preview requirements for API 1.6

https://dev.office.com/reference/add-ins/outlook/preview/index?product=outlook&version=preview

I have a particular selfish interest in the “Office.context.auth.getAccessTokenAsync – Added access to getAccessTokenAsync, which allows add-ins to get an access token for the Microsoft Graph API.”

I think I am going to play with that 🙂

Next call will be at 8:00AM PST on June 20, 2018. https://aka.ms/outlookcommunitycall