Office_365_AppsEnterprises have a trove of business resources and data that are often under-utilized – users, calendars, contacts, emails, tasks, documents and other files. Often there are redundancies between what users do with Office applications and other enterprise applications, and a painful lack of integration.

In prior posts, I discussed the compelling new Office 365 development platform and introduced Matter Center to demonstrate how integrating web-based add-ins directly into Office applications like Outlook can lead to productivity gains and happy users.

In this post we’ll introduce a sample application to show a practical example of how we can use these technologies to bring enterprise applications together with these valuable resources.

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Office 365As a full-stack software developer with a penchant for UI/UX, I must admit I was a little skeptical when I was recently tasked to investigate Office 365 as a development platform.

What I found surprised and impressed me.

The Office 365 Development Platform

We’ve gotten really good at spinning up web applications that help users solve problems and increase productivity. That’s great, but it can also leave users with all sorts of disparate applications and stand-alone tools to interact with throughout the day. This contributes to a common productivity disrupter: context switching – that is, the need to frequently switch between different applications and user experiences.

Office 365 offers new compelling ways to integrate external services and custom functionality directly into the Office applications people already use.

Users can do more without having to alt-tab their way through the day, and developers can leverage a rich set of features and functionality without re-inventing the wheel.

Imagine being able to perform many of your day-to-day tasks without ever leaving Outlook. Or accessing external content directly in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Users can do more without having to alt-tab their way through the day, and developers can leverage a rich set of features and functionality without re-inventing the wheel.

What’s more, the functionality you add is available from anywhere, on any device. Office 365 provides rich browser-based web apps as well as native apps for Windows, iOS, and Android.

Nice.

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Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 1.21.26 PMWith the abundance of JavaScript libraries and frameworks available today, it’s hard to decide what is going to work best for a certain requirement. Add in the fact that there are many server-side tools that can also accomplish the task and you could spend hours just narrowing down options to test before deciding on the path you’ll take in the end. This was a recent conundrum for me when approached to incorporate child data management in the parent forms on a SharePoint 2010 project. My experience with JavaScript has been limited over my career because I’ve been so focused on the backend of SharePoint during the majority of that time. My current client has need for a better user experience, so I’ve been trying to fill that hole in my skills.  This project offered an opportunity to do just that.

While it’s possible to put an ASP GridView control in an Update Panel, a client-side approach seemed cleaner and a way to expand my JavaScript skills. I looked at many options like JQuery Datatables, koGrid, and a few others, but they didn’t give me the look, price (free), and/or TypeScript definitions for me to easily take off with implementing it.

I decided to build my own solution since it would be a relatively simple design and it would let me dig into KnockoutJS. In addition, it would be easier to use TypeScript to build an easier-to-maintain solution since it incorporates many of the ECMAScript 6 features like classes and modules, among others. Read More…

Whnetrocks1at’s your DevOps plan? Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell from .NET Rocks! talk to Vishwas Lele about taking a comprehensive, model-driven approach to DevOps. What does it mean to be model-driven? Working with a strategic approach that is agnostic to any given technology or platform – but in the end, the tools do matter!

Vishwas talks about common elements like a single repository for all assets, repeatable deployment processes, instrumentation and feedback mechanisms that enable the entire team to see how the software is being used and improved. He also talks about the Azure templates for getting infrastructure up and running quickly – and the on-going evolution to let this model work anywhere, not just in the cloud!

.NET Rocks! is a weekly talk show for anyone interested in programming on the Microsoft .NET platform. The shows range from introductory information to hardcore geekiness.

Click here to listen!

 

javasciptWhat is ECMAScript? ECMAScript is the standards name for the language many of us know as JavaScript. To envision the relationship between the two, think of ECMAScript as the language, and JavaScript as the dialect. There are other dialects – including JScript, ActionScript, etc. – that are still around. These days, developers commonly use the terms “ECMAScript” and “JavaScript” to mean the same thing – and more and more I see developers referring to implementing ECMA, ES, or ECMAScript.

Version six of the ECMAScript standard – code-named “Harmony” – will include some very interesting features that bring the experience of implementing complex apps on the client side closer to the experience server side developers know and love. Although some of these features have been previously available using a combination of patterns and third party plugins – ECMAScript 6 aims to make many commonly used features available natively.

I’ll walk through a few of my highlights below, but keep in mind version 6 is a large release that has been a long time coming (five years since the last version’s publication) and has a ton of functionality and improvements that will be well worth exploring. So the features sites below should not be seen as any more or less important that other ES6 features. Also, it’s worth noting that not all browsers will support every feature right away, but it appears as if the development teams behind the major browsers are very motivated to support as much of the standard they can – as quickly as possible. Read More…

Answers.com needed a Microsoft partner that could upgrade their Windows 8 application to maximize the use of a variety of new 8.1 features. Expediency was of the utmost importance in this instance and based on our prior experience with Microsoft, they knew we were the best partner for the job. AIS upgraded the Answers.com Windows 8.0 Store application to 8.1, meeting Answers.com goal of getting it done as quickly as possible. Our team also validated the application through the Microsoft DPE Windows 8 Partner Program to ensure adherence to all Windows 8.1 criterion. Read more…

Any website that allows users to create their own textual content requires a good text editor. Fortunately for today’s developer, there are many options available that provide users with a great text editing experience. Depending on the development platform, this is often as simple as plugging in an existing editor written for that platform. In early 2014 I was looking for just such an option for AngularJS. This tutorial will give you an overview of the steps I went through to add a text editor to my AngularJS application.

AngularJS is quickly becoming s a popular web application framework. Its scalable, modular structure and intuitive syntax make it a popular choice for building medium to large web applications. While AngularJS is certainly opinionated, its opinions turn out to be quite helpful – especially to those less nuanced in the intricacies of well-organized JavaScript. I found AngularJS, and its accompanying opinions, a pleasure to work with. Read More…

At AIS, our Account Teams work with our clients every day to produce IT solutions that solve business problems. We work closely with our CTO organization to ensure that we are researching the latest technology and services in a manner that is applicable to our clients and prospective clients.

We recently applied this to a business problem that required an organization to quickly — and with no notice — stand up a website to collect hundreds, or potentially millions, of submissions from the general public.  Our use case focused on law enforcement and the sorts of emergency response situations we’ve seen all too often in the news, such as the Boston Marathon bombing.  When local, state or federal authorities respond to criminal acts, they seek to quickly collect vast amounts of input from the public.  This input can be in the form of tips, photos, videos or any untold number of observations.  Agencies need the capability to surge their IT tools and applications to collect the data, store it, and run analysis tools against the collected content to harvest information. Read More…