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Deploy and install mail apps for testing in Outlook

apps for Office

Learn how to deploy and install a mail app for Outlook for testing, as part of the mail app development cycle.

Last modified: April 02, 2014

Applies to: Exchange Online | Exchange Server 2013 | Exchange Server 2013 SP1 | Outlook 2013 | Outlook 2013 RT | Outlook 2013 SP1 | Outlook Web App | OWA for Devices

   Office.js: v1.0, v1.1

   Apps for Office manifests schema: v1.0, v1.1

Note Note

"Outlook" in this article refers to the Outlook rich client, Outlook RT, Outlook Web App, and OWA for Devices.

In this article
Deploying a mail app for testing
Installing the mail app
In this section
Additional resources

As part of the process of developing a mail app, you will probably find yourself iteratively deploying and installing the app for testing, which involves the following steps:

  1. Creating a manifest file that describes the mail app.

  2. Deploying the mail app UI file(s) to a web server.

  3. Installing the mail app in your mailbox.

  4. Test the mail app, making appropriate changes to the UI or manifest files, and repeating steps 2 and 3 to test the changes.

Creating a manifest file for the mail app

Each app is described by an XML manifest, a document that gives the Exchange server information about the mail app, provides descriptive information about the app for the user, and identifies the location of the app UI HTML file. You can store the manifest in a local folder or server, as long as the location is accessible by the Exchange server of the mailbox that you are testing with. We'll assume that you store your manifest in a local folder. For information about how to create a manifest file, see Creating a manifest for a mail app to activate in a read or compose form in Outlook (schema v1.1).

Deploying a mail app to a web server

You can use HTML and JavaScript to create the mail app UI. The resulting source file is stored on a web server that can be accessed by the Exchange server that hosts the app. The source file is identified by the SourceLocation child element in the DesktopSettings element, TabletSettings element, and/or PhoneSettings element specified in the app manifest file.

After initially deploying the UI files for the mail app, you can update the app UI and behavior by replacing the HTML file stored on the web server with a new version of the HTML file.

After preparing the app manifest file and deploying the app UI to a web server that can be accessed, you can install the mail app for a mailbox on an Exchange server by using the Outlook rich client, Outlook Web App, or OWA for Devices, or by running remote Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

Installing a mail app in the Outlook rich client

You can install a mail app in the Outlook rich client through the Office Fluent Backstage view if the current Outlook profile is configured for an Exchange Server mailbox that is at least Exchange 2013. If this is the case, when you select File, you will see Manage Apps. Choose Manage Apps. This allows you sign in to the Exchange Admin Center. After signing in, continue the installation process with step 4 in the next section.

Installing a mail app by using the Exchange Admin Center

To use the Exchange Admin Center (EAC) to install a mail app, follow these steps:

  1. Open the EAC by using a URL such as the following:

    https://<exchange server>/ecp/?p=installed

  2. Log on to the Exchange server by using a valid user name and password.

  3. Select Apps to open the app manager.

    Note Note

    If you are logged on as the Exchange Server administrator, you must first select the user name in the upper-right corner, and then select My Options to open the account control panel.

  4. Select the plus sign (+) to add a new app.

  5. From the drop-down list, select Add from file, assuming you have stored the manifest on a local folder.

  6. Browse to the file path of the manifest, and then select Install.

  7. Select the user name in the upper-right corner of the window and select My Mail to switch to your email to test the mail app.

Note Note

If you are not using any of the following to develop your mail app:

  • Office 365 developer tenant

  • "Napa" Office 365 Development Tools

  • Visual Studio

And, if you do not have at minimum the "My Custom Apps" role for your Exchange Server, then you can install mail apps only from the Office Store. In order to test your mail app, or install mail apps in general by specifying a URL or file name for the app manifest, you should request your Exchange administrator to provide the necessary permissions.

The Exchange administrator can run the following PowerShell cmdlet to assign a single user the necessary permissions. In this example, wendyri is the user’s email alias.

New-ManagementRoleAssignment –Role "My Custom Apps" –User "wendyri"

If necessary, the administrator can run the following cmdlet to assign multiple users the similar necessary permissions:

$users = Get-Mailbox *

$users | ForEach-Object { New-ManagementRoleAssignment -Role "My Custom Apps" -User $_.Alias}

For more information about the My Custom Apps role, see My Custom Apps role.

Using Office 365, "Napa" Office 365 Development Tools, or Visual Studio to develop mail apps assigns you the organization administrator role which allows you to install mail apps by file or URL in the EAC, or by Powershell cmdlets.

After you install the mail app, you can sign out of the EAC and return to the Outlook rich client to test the app. Alternatively, without signing out of the EAC, you can continue to use Outlook Web App or OWA for Devices to test the app. To do this, select the user name in the upper-right corner of the window, and select My Mail to switch to your email to test the app.

Installing a mail app by using remote PowerShell

After you create a remote Windows PowerShell session on your Exchange server, you can install a mail app by using the New-App cmdlet with the following PowerShell command.

New-App –URL:"http://<fully-qualified URL">

The fully qualified URL is the location of the app manifest file that you prepared for your app.

You can use the following additional PowerShell cmdlets to manage the apps for a mailbox:

  • Get-App — Lists the mail apps that are enabled for a mailbox.

  • Set-App — Enables or disables a mail app on a mailbox.

  • Remove-App — Removes a previously installed mail app from an Exchange server.

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