Apps for Office

  1. Start
  2. Design
  3. Develop
  4. Publish

Start here

First, walk through creating a simple app

Task pane app

Create a task pane app for Excel or Word

Mail app

Create a mail app for Outlook

Content app

Create a content app for Excel

Next, identify the data and Office host application

Does your app handle data in a document, mailbox item, presentation, project, or workbook? The purpose of the app and kinds of data it interacts with largely determine the host applications appropriate for your app.

Task pane app

Task pane app

Is your data in an Excel workbook, PowerPoint presentation, Project file, or Word document? Do you want to enhance the viewing or authoring experience? For example, an inventory control task pane app can use a web service to provide product data in a stock tracking workbook.
Mail app

Mail app

Do you want to use the app in Outlook email or appointments, and perhaps even when you're away from the office using a tablet or smartphone? A mail app can use the Bing Maps web service to provide a map for an address in a message.
Content app

Content app

Is your data in an Excel workbook? Do you want to embed media or rich data visualizations from the web? A content app can use a web service to integrate historic sales maps in a sales data workbook.

Then, explore features available for apps

Apps for Office let you create features that integrate web services and technologies with Office applications on a growing array of devices, including desktop, tablet, and smartphone.

Find out what you can do in task pane and content apps

Available in Excel, Excel Web app, PowerPoint, Project, or Word

Browse the features available to mail apps

Write once, run in Outlook, Outlook Web app, or OWA for Devices

And, decide the purpose of your app

Which scenarios can you target to create apps that your customers will be eager to use or buy?

Identify key scenarios and focus your design on streamlining the tasks your customers need to perform to get their work done. If you've developed solutions for Office in the past, take some time to think about how the cloud and cross-host platform can open up new scenarios for your app.

Now that you know what you can do with your app, get ready to design, build, and publish it to a corporate or organization catalog, or to the Office Store.

Design

A well-designed app will solve a particular problem end-to-end with ease and efficiency. Spend some time up front thinking about the tasks and activities your customers will perform as they use your app. Do some preliminary sketches that show how you expect customers to interact with your app and how its UI is laid out. Remember that design is an iterative process and the more you're willing to test and refine your designs the better your app will be.

Use the guidelines below to help you design an app that's attractive, easy to use, and lets your customers get their tasks done as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Think about how people will use your app

Learn about the scenarios and common interaction patterns supported by the different types of apps for Office.

UX building blocks for your app

Learn about the recommended UX building blocks for apps for Office, such as tabs, buttons, dialogs, and toasts for notifications.

Recommended style, layout, and color

Learn style guidelines for the layout, typography, color, icons, borders, and backgrounds of your apps for Office.

Validation polices for apps

Read the criteria we use to validate apps submitted to the Office Store to help you plan your app.

Publish

After you’ve finished developing your app for Office, the final step is making it available for download. To do this, you can publish your app to one of three places.

Publish your app to a corporate catalog

For a task pane or content app, IT departments can deploy and configure private corporate app catalogs to provide the same Office-solution catalog experience that the Office Store provides. This catalog and development platform lets IT use a streamlined method to provision an app for Office and SharePoint to managed users from a central location without the need to deploy a solution to each client.

Publish your mail apps to an Exchange Server catalog

A mail app is installed to an Exchange catalog that is available to users of the Exchange server on which it resides. It enables publishing and management of mail apps, including internally created ones as well as solutions that are acquired from the Office Store and licensed for corporate use. A mail app is installed into an Exchange catalog by using either the Exchange Admin Center (EAC) or by running remote Windows PowerShell commands (cmdlets).

Publish your app to the Office Store

Office provides the ability for end-users to discover solutions directly from a public marketplace hosted on Office.com. The Office Store provides a convenient location for developers to upload new app solutions aimed both at consumers and businesses. As a developer, when you upload your app to the public marketplace, Microsoft runs some validation checks on it. For example, it checks whether the app manifest markup is valid and complete and verifies that any included SharePoint solution packages (.wsp files) do not include disallowed elements or features that have a scope broader than Web. If all tests are passed, the app package is wrapped into a file and signed by Microsoft.

Quick links for app development