Office “Web” Add-ins: demystified and explained for web developers

I spent a lot of time feeling stupid when I first dove into the new Office (web) add-ins several years ago during the “Agave” private MVP beta. They were then launched under the more appropriate moniker of “Apps for Office”. They’ve since been renamed as “Office add-ins”. Not to be confused with the desktop kind called, um, “Office add-ins” (AKA COM add-ins). Anyway, I learned what I could to prepare for some sessions that I presented on about this new platform at various conferences (Prairie Developer Conference, Winnipeg Code Camp and DevConnections Las Vegas 2013 I believe).

But it wasn’t enough.  You have to go DEEP and build an actual working application or solve a deep problem in order to truly start mastering a new tech.  It helps if you get paid to learn even more, such as when I built an Outlook web add-in for KnowBe4 (Phish Alert, and a COM add-in version as well).  The new knowledge I gained from that project gave me ideas to start developing a new product to sell on the Office Store – MessageFiler.  Follow the link to get a sneak peak and join the beta – it’ll also give you a chance to see my redesigned web site.  :-)

However, MessageFiler was taking a looong time to develop, as I was getting burned by some limitations of the platform and getting bogged down by my rusty and incomplete knowledge of JavaScript and jQuery.  Yet I dug deep and dug hard and consumed and learned and banged my head against the desk – and came away with tons of developer goodness.

Check out what I mean with my new blog post in the MVP Award Program Blog on MSDN:

Unifying Your Web Dev Skills for Office Add-ins
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/mvpawardprogram/2016/01/26/unifying-your-web-dev-skills-for-office-add-ins

UPDATE, 2016-02-03: My article has now also been posted on the Canadian Developer Connection blog:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/cdndevs/archive/2016/02/03/unifying-your-web-dev-skills-for-office-add-ins.aspx

I will have another companion blog post here soon with even more tips and tricks and deeper stuff that didn’t make it into the article.  Until then – cheers!

Eric Legault

Microsoft Outlook MVP (15 yrs). Author: Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Step By Step. Consultant/speaker/Outlook add-in builder/SharePoint pioneer. Guitarist: Maiden Canada (Iron Maiden tribute band)

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