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.

 

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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

Slides from MS Ignite Office Education day – Office Add-Ins Script Lab

Last month I was invited by the Office development team to present during the Office Education day at MS Ignite.

This presentation was given as part of the Office education day September 24th 2017. The presentation focused on Office Add-Ins and specifically how users could use the Script Lab Add-In to be able to get started with Office Add-Ins.

There are examples in the presentation of some of the Add-In samples available in the Script Labs and then a challenge

 

 

Office Add-Ins – JavaScript control over the Content Control lock in a Word document

In this article I will show how easy it is to programmatically lock and release the lock on a content control in a word document. This is very helpful when you are populating regions of a document but do not want users to mess with the format of the contents.

Introduction

In the Word 1.3 release of the office.js model, Microsoft release the new “cannotEdit” property of a content control. This is a get and settable property. More information on the properties available are found here in the documentation

https://github.com/OfficeDev/office-js-docs/blob/WordJs_1.3_Openspec/reference/word/contentcontrol.md

Unlocking a content control for editing

Here is my locked content control called “Checklist”. I am going to use the code to get it by Tagname and then unlock it.

In your JavaScript code when you are about to update the control you need to execute the following as a minimum. It seems like a lot of code but it is due to the Promised based architecture used for the Office Add-In APIs.

    Word.run(function (context) {

        var contentControlsWithTag = context.document.contentControls.getByTag('Checklist');
        // Queue a command to load the tag property for all of content controls.
        context.load(contentControlsWithTag, 'tag');

        // Synchronize the document state by executing the queued commands,
        // and return a promise to indicate task completion.
        return context.sync().then(function () {
            if (contentControlsWithTag.items.length === 0) {
                console.log('No content control found.');
            }
            else {
                return context.sync()
                    .then(function () {
                        //the contentControlsWithTag is always returned as an array of items
                        contentControlsWithTag.items[0].cannotEdit = false;
                        contentControlsWithTag.items[0].insertHtml("<b>Hello World</b>", 'Replace');
                    });
            }
        });
    })
    .catch(function (error) {
        console.log('Error: ' + JSON.stringify(error));
        if (error instanceof OfficeExtension.Error) {
            console.log('Debug info: ' + JSON.stringify(error.debugInfo));
        }
    });    

Once you have unlocked the control your code can be inserted and the control is editable. In a real application you just have to make sure you lock averything again with

   contentControlsWithTag.items[0].cannotEdit = false;
   contentControlsWithTag.items[0].insertHtml("<b>Hello World</b>", 'Replace');
   contentControlsWithTag.items[0].cannotEdit = true

Conclusion

Nice, simple to use locking control. Yes the users cant unlock this manually and mess with the document, but if they are going there, then it is their own fault. This way no changes can be made “by mistake”.

 

Azure Machine Learning Studio Office Add-In

I am currently in the process of learning more about Azure Machine Learning Studio . Within there you can create and train predictive models. As I am going through some of the examples I came across a great example of an Office Add-In.

I am creating a simple weather predicting example based on data I downloaded from an API service. More on that later. From my model I created a sample Web Service with the click of a button. This exposes an End point for me to send data to be “predicted on”.

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When you create a Web Service from your trained model you can access a test screen through the application.

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From there I spotted a link to an Excel App and I figure I would see what was going on there. Turns out it is an Office Add-In… !!

When the Excel sheet opened I was presented with the option to test the web service

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Once you load your test data into the sheet you can then use the Add-In to select the data to test – and designate where the answer will be added back to the sheet.

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And you push Predict !!!

Looking at the application using the F12 tool we can see the hosted Office Add-In location and also see the prediction in action.

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The web service is called and the response is a JSON string with all the answers and the scored confidence in the answer.

The Add-In then inserts those answers back into the Excel spreadsheet for you

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As you can see, my predicting needs some work but the Add-In and sample web service worked like a charm !!!

Poking around the site I can see it is built using Knockout.js and some jQuery – very cool 🙂

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Once I have properly figured out how this all Machine Learning lark works I am going to create some blog posts on the predictive side of this – but I wanted to share how cool this out of the box for free Add-In is

GREAT USE CASE !!

 

Sharing data between Office Add-Ins using localStorage

In this article I will show how the underlying dependence on the browser (in this case IE11 in Windows) allows us to pass data between Office Add-Ins through the use of HTML5 localStorage. At this point this is a theoretical post as I haven’t thought of a good use case yet, I am sure I will at some point…

Introduction 

Earlier this year I created a demo for the Salesforce global conference (Dreamforce) which showed how to create an Office Add-In to extract and manipulate Salesforce data from within an Office Add-In (you can see the presentation here). For the main demo I actually created one “Web Page” and reused it in the context of Word and Excel. In this article I will demonstrate how we can easily set a localStorage value in IE11 or in an Office Add-In and have that readable in the other client environments.

localStorage

localStorage is part of the HTML5 Web Storage API which allows the permanent storage of string values in a browser. Like cookies the ability to read and write is tied to a domain. You can get/set values very easily by using the following notation:

  localStorage.setItem('name', 'Marky');
  localStorage.getItem('name'); //Marky

or even as simple as

  localStorage.name = 'Marky';
  localStorage.name; //Marky

The Embedded Browser 

When utilizing an Office Add-In within the Office client apps we are really using an embedded browser session within the context of the external client. In the case of Windows it is Internet Explorer. What this means though is that when we access a web domain, and set a localStorage value, that value is always available to us, when using Internet Explorer on that domain. Let me show you.

The Example

Here is my application running hosted on Azure in the xomino365.azurewebsites.net domain

ls1

Through the console I created a new value

  localStorage.Marky = "This value set in IE11";

and as you can see below that is now accessible from localStorage

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If I now load up my Office Add-In within Word we can see (using the F12 tool) that  it is the same URL (same web page). Because it is in the Add-In “host_Info=Word” is added to the URL but other than that it is the basically same.

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Looking at the localStorage value we can also see “marky”

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We can set a value here in Word

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and then open the Add-In in Excel and retrieve the localStorage values previously set

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Caveat

If you have Word and Excel open you cannot set a localStorage value in one and have it picked up in the other, it seems that they only pick up the new values once they are opened. If you wanted to pass information between them in real time you could do that using WebSockets (something for a future demo).

Persistence between different Add-Ins

Now that I have set these values using the same application, we can also demonstrate that the principle is still applicable between different Add-Ins hosted in the same domain. In this example I have a different Add-In, still hosted on xomino365.azurewebsites.net (this time in Outlook). All the localStorage values are still available to me.

ls7

Conclusion

In this article we have seen how we are able to set a localStorage value in Internet Explorer and then Word and have those values available in Excel. We have also seen that these values are actually available in other Add-Ins as long as they are hosted on the same domain.

This capability is all due to the underlying fact that Internet Explorer is the browser used to create all the demonstrated functionality.

 

Using “F12” in Windows to get an Office Add-In development developer console

In this article I will demonstrate the ability to activate and use the Internet Explorer developer console from within an Office Add-In.

Introduction

As I have discussed before, without using the debugging tools available within Visual Studio it is hard to debug Office Add-In development. In the past I have used firebug lite to assist in this but it is far from ideal. Within Windows 10 there is a new capability to open a developer console which help alleviate this issue to an extent.

F12

On a Windows 10 operating system you will find F12 in the %system32% directory. Normally this would be c:\windows\system32\F12\F12chooser.exe

f1

 

Open up you favorite Office Add-In and or one you are working on and then open F12Chooser


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Selecting TaskPane.html in this case will open the Internet Explorer developer tools for that web page. In Windows the Office Add-In is surfaced through an embedded IE windows within the office client.

f4

Using the developer console you can execute commands as normal

f5

You can also use the selector tool to look at styles

f6

 

Thanks to Michael Zlatkovsky (Microsoft Office Add-In dev – this guy) for showing me this 🙂

Conclusion

This is a major improvement for me over having to use firebuglite – interestingly though Michael was very intrigued that I had got that to work as well 🙂