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The latest from San Jose - Microsoft Office Systems Developers Conference 2008

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Microsoft Office Systems Developers Conference 2008 in San Jose California. This conference was targeted at developers and architects who are working within the Office suite; this includes the Client tools, Word, Outlook etc. and the Server products, SharePoint, BizTalk, and Office Communication Server etc. Personally I’m currently focused on SharePoint, but like to keep abreast of developments in other areas.

The conference started out with a morning of keynote talks, the first of these delivered by Bill Gates. Bill discussed how he sees Office as the key tool to accessing the Information Worker. Essentially his vision is that the best way to deliver maximum value in an application that is targeted at the Information Worker is to surface that in the context of the most applicable Office client; broadly these applications are called Office Business Applications or OBAs. Bill also allowed 15 minutes at the end of his keynote to take questions from the floor, where he managed to address Microsoft’s interest in Yahoo and a number of pointed questions regarding the future of the Office suite.

As is usual at these types of events Microsoft launched a number of new offerings. These included:

  • Office Live Small Business. A free offering targeted at small businesses to provide an online presence and tools for leveraging the web as a marketing and sales channel. This is built upon the SharePoint stack and can be extended by developers to provide additional features over and above the out of the box offering.
  • Visual Studio Extensions for Window SharePoint Services 1.1. These tools increase developer productivity in the SharePoint space by providing templates for key functionalities and automating a number of tasks. Intergen is already working with Microsoft to provide a User Guide for these tools. The initial release of the user guide received high praise and was welcomed as a much needed resource.
  • BizTalk adapter packs for SAP, Siebel and Oracle to ease integration with these products, allowing data from these systems to be accessed by other software systems. Note: BizTalk is not necessary to leverage these adapter packs. Download the data sheet or visit the Microsoft BizTalk Server Adapters web page for more information.

The amount of information available in breakout sessions was vast! I almost wish I’d been able to clone myself and attend some of the parallel sessions. One of the key things that I took away from both what I saw in these sessions and discussion with other attendees is that Intergen is generally ahead of the curve; we have created SharePoint based solutions that others are just now considering.

That said, as always, at Intergen we’re looking for ways to improve. I have arrived back with a brace of ideas as to how we can become more effective and efficient throughout the lifecycle of a project that involves SharePoint. Many of these involve looking at getting end user involvement early on and working collaboratively to ensure that the true needs and wants of the client are captured early in a concrete manner. The output of these exercises can then be fed into the development process where good software methodologies and rigour can be applied to create the customisations that are necessary to achieve the client’s goals.

Posted by: Gavin Barron, Solution Architect | 17 March 2008

Tags: SharePoint, Office Business Applications, Information Worker

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