Thursday, February 17, 2005

Connected systems, Office 2003, SharePoint, InfoPath and XML

Building connected systems with Office 2003 seems to be one of the new ways Microsoft is using to convince customers that they need to upgrade to newer versions of Office (Bill Gates even did a webcast Connected Systems and Office System). Microsoft is trying to revive developer interest in Office 2003 - they even had the first Office Developer Conference in Redmond (Read more about the reason behind it) Microsoft will try to use its partners resource to establish this goal - and it seems to be working - read woos Office developers.

Some things I picked up from different blogs and reading articles about this whole hype:
  • XML will be everywhere - it is the glue that will connect everything together- so be prepared. The new development tools for Office will show developers why XML really matters - Office uses XML in the core with its own reference schemas, with smart tags, schema attached documents, with IBF. InfoPath is probably the best example of how you can use XML to create electronic forms - InfoPath is really a very smart XML editor. Learn XML, building XSDs, XSLT, XPath and XQuery, you will need it....

  • While building solutions with VSTO (Visual Tools for Office) - security is a key point. So you will need a solid understanding of digital signatures, code access policy, ...

  • SharePoint was mentionned a couple of times, I think it will be positioned more and more as the central information hub for all of the data in your company. I expect tighter integration with Biztalk for next versions so SharePoint will perform as UI on top of Biztalk or the newly announced WINOE workflow engine. For more info read Gates pins hopes on SharePoint. My favorite part of the article:
    "The SharePoint team is working on its next release of both SharePoint Services and SPPS. On tap is more and better integration between SharePoint and other business applications, especially content management, Microsoft officials have said. Microsoft also is working to deliver a Visual Studio Team System 2005 template for SharePoint team collaboration/team development by the time Visual Studio 2005 ships this summer. "

  • You should see the comments made in this posting -Application Suites versus Best of Breed Still Alive, in the same context. Microsoft is willing to compete head on with other portal solution vendors. I think we can expect a lot more out of the box functionalities in the next version of both SharePoint and CMS.

  • The last signicant announcement was the one about InfoPath, Mark Bower already talked about it, Gates went on to add more detail: InfoPath ‘with rich controls, on top of the Avalon runtime’, but also with the ability to ‘project onto classic HTML’. So InfoPath is likely to evolve into a Forms package that can target thin-client HTML delivery and rich client Avalon delivery. Finally a Microsoft forms solution which doesn't need extra CALs for every user - I guess this will finally make it an equivalent solution for Adobe Forms.

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