What's new for apps for Office in Office 2013 SP1

apps for Office

Learn about the features and technologies of Office 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1) that are of interest to apps for Office developers.

Last modified: June 30, 2014

Applies to: Access app for SharePoint | Excel 2013 | Excel 2013 RT | Excel 2013 SP1 | Excel Online | Outlook 2013 | Outlook 2013 RT | Outlook 2013 SP1 | Outlook Web App | OWA for Devices | PowerPoint 2013 | PowerPoint 2013 RT | PowerPoint 2013 SP1 | PowerPoint Online | Project 2013 | Project 2013 SP1 | Word 2013 | Word 2013 RT | Word 2013 SP1

   Office.js: v1.0, v1.1

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

In this article
Introduction to Office 2013 SP1
API updates for Office 2013 SP1
Additions in apps for Outlook 2013 SP1
Content Apps now in PowerPoint 2013 SP1 and PowerPoint Online
Apps for Office user interface improvements
Changes to app manifest features
Specifying requirement sets in your app's manifest
Updates in the licensing model for apps for Office and SharePoint
Updates for Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio

Important: To run an app developed using the new and updated SP1 features, your customers need to run Office 2013 SP1 desktop products, and where applicable, SharePoint Server 2013 SP1 and related server products, Exchange Server 2013 SP1, or the equivalent online hosted products: Office 365, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online.

You can find information about downloading SP1 updates in the following support articles:

See a video of an overview and demos of the new apps for Office APIs and features in Office 2013 SP1.

Office 2013 SP1 is an exciting release for users and developers alike. For example, Office 2013 SP1 has many new and updated features, such as the following:

  • Content apps are now available for PowerPoint 2013 and PowerPoint Online.

  • New API features such as, the document Navigation, Data Formatting, and File Properties APIs.

  • New, updated features and API to support using apps for Office for Outlook 2013 when composing emails and appointments.

  • Updates to the apps for Office user interface to improve the discovery and app insertion experience for end users.

  • Additions and changes to the apps for Office manifest schema.

  • Updates to the apps for Office and apps for SharePoint licensing model.

  • Updates to the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio.

These are just a few of the changes and additions that you can read about in this topic.

We've made many API updates and enhancements to the JavaScript API for Office in the Office 2013 SP1 release.

Important: If you created apps for the initial release of Office 2013, to use these new and updated v1.1 API members, you need to update the JavaScript API for Office files from version 1.0 to 1.1 in your Visual Studio project.

Updates for apps for Excel, PowerPoint, and Word

  • Using the new Navigation API, apps now have a way to navigate within the document view to different parts of a document, worksheet or presentation. The Navigation API lets apps for Excel, PowerPoint, and Word navigate and focus the view on specific objects and locations in the document.

    Your apps can use the new Document.goToByIdAsync method to navigate to the following locations in this release:

    • A binding (Word and Excel rich clients)

    • A table (Excel rich client)

    • The currently selected slide (PowerPoint rich client)

    • Navigate by index – first, last, previous, or next slide (PowerPoint rich client)

  • The new File Properties API lets your apps access and modify the properties of an Office file. This API is works across apps for Word 2013, Excel 2013, and PowerPoint 2013.

    Use the new Document.getFileProperties method to get file properties. Only supports getting the file's URL in this release. (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel rich clients)

  • Updates to the Document.getFileAsync method to support getting the current document as a PDF file. (Word and PowerPoint rich clients)

Updates for apps for PowerPoint

In addition to the items described above for the Navigation API and File Properties API, apps for PowerPoint now support the following new and update API members.

  • New Document.getActiveViewAsync method returns whether the document's current view is in "edit" (Normal) or "read" (Slide Show) view. (PowerPoint rich and web clients)

  • New Document.ActiveViewChanged event fires when the user changes the document's view. (PowerPoint rich and web clients)

  • Updates to the Document.getSelectedDataAsync method to support getting the id of the currently selected slide (PowerPoint rich client)

Updates for apps for Excel

In addition to the items described above for the Navigation API and File Properties API, apps for Excel now support the following new and update API members and features.

  • In apps for Excel, the new Formatting API enables developers to set and update data formatting for tables and data within them. Data formatting is the set of attributes that describe the presentation and the type of the data. Examples for presentation attributes are font color, border style, and text alignment. Examples for type attributes are number, date, currency, and so on.

    Use the new TableBinding.setFormatsAsync method to set formatting for tables and data within them. It supports applying formatting on selected and bound tables using the same formatting available in the Format Cells dialog box. Formatting can be applied to multiple targets in a single function call. Also, the new clearFormatsAsync and setTableOptionsAsync methods of the TableBinding object let you work with cell and table formatting. (Excel rich client)

  • The user experience when inserting an app for Office that binds to selected data has been improved. Previously, after selecting data and then choosing to insert an app to bind to that data, the binding action would fail. With this improvement, the app can consistently bind to the data the user selected when the app is inserted. Developers can bind to table, matrix, and text data selected by the user when their app is inserted in Excel 2013 and Excel Online.

  • In apps for Excel 2013 and Excel Online, the Table Binding API is now enhanced to work with matrix data in addition to table data. For example, when you call the addFromPromptAsync, addFromSelectionAsync, or addFromNamedItemAsync methods of the Bindings object with a bindingType argument of type Office.BindingType.Table, these methods will bind to any contiguous range of cells as a table —even if that data was not originally added to the spreadsheet as a table (using the Insert > Tables >Table or Home > Styles > Format as Table commands). This lets you write simpler code that will work whether a user selects to bind to a matrix or table data structure, and also lets you take advantage of the additional methods of the TableBinding object when working with matrix data. This also enables apps to use the same code to work with both matrix and table data in Excel, and Access apps for SharePoint, which support only table binding. (Excel, Excel Online, and Access apps for SharePoint)

Updates for Access apps for SharePoint

The following API members have been updated to support content apps that work with Access apps for SharePoint.

For information about how to create content apps that work with SharePoint apps for Access, see How to: Create content apps for Access.

Updates for apps for Outlook

See New and extended JavaScript API objects and members in "What's new for mail apps in Office 2013 SP1."

For details about the entire API, including new and updated members, see, JavaScript API for Office (v1.1).

Outlook 2013 SP1 now supports using apps for Office when composing emails and appointments. Developers can also take advantage of new APIs to provide enhanced compose and attachment management functionality. To use this functionality, the following is required:

  • The user’s Exchange mailbox is on Exchange 2013 SP1 or Exchange Online

  • JavaScript API for Office version 1.1

  • Apps for Office manifests schema version 1.1

New features for mail apps include the following:

  • Mail apps can be activated and work in compose forms of messages and appointments.

  • In a compose form, mail apps can get most of the existing item properties that have been available in a read form, set new properties such as bcc, add or remove attachments, and set data in user-selected regions in the item body.

  • Just as Outlook Web App and OWA for Devices have provided attachment API support, in Outlook 2013 SP1 and Outlook RT, mail apps can use the attachment API to send information about attachments of a selected item to a remote service. The service can then contact the Exchange server directly to retrieve the attachments.

  • Similar to getting attachments, mail apps can let a remote service get an entire selected item, including the item body, from the user’s Exchange server.

  • Mail apps can run on a new native app, OWA for Android, that allows users to access Mail, People and Calendar items on Android smartphones.

For more information about what's added and changed for mail apps, see What's new for mail apps in Office 2013 SP1.

In addition to creating task pane apps, you can now create content apps for PowerPoint 2013 SP1 and PowerPoint Online. Content apps integrate web-based features as content that can be shown in line with the presentation. Content apps let you integrate rich, web-based data visualizations, embedded media (such as a YouTube video player or a picture gallery), as well as other external content.

New and updated API have been added to support both content and task pane apps for PowerPoint.

The apps for Office user interface has been improved to remove adoption and usage blockers for apps for Office in all Office apps that support them. These improvements fall into 2 categories:

  • Discoverability and Understandability improvements in the ribbon UI that make it easier for users to find and use apps for Office.

  • Acquisition and Activation improvements that let users:

The features of apps for Office app manifests have been updated in Office 2013 SP1 to support compose mode apps for Outlook and the hosts/requirements model.

To use these new app manifest features, you need to update Visual Studio and your project files.

The following are some of the changes that were made to the updated app manifest schema.

Table 1. Changes to the schema manifest




Capabilities element (TaskPaneApp complexType)


Capabilities element (MailApp complexType)


Capability element (ContentApp complexType)


Capability element (TaskPaneApp complexType)


Capability element (MailApp complexType)


DesktopSettings element


Form element


FormSettings complexType




Host complexType


Hosts complexType


Method element


Methods complexType


Requirements complexType


Set element


Sets complexType


For more information on how to update the manifest of an existing mail app to use version 1.1 of the schema, see Updating the manifest of a mail app from schema v1.0 to v1.1. To create a manifest for a new mail app, see Creating a manifest for a mail app to activate in a read or compose form in Outlook (schema v1.1).

Version 1.1 of the schema for app for Office manifests now supports optionally declaring requirement sets in your app's manifest. A requirement set lets you specify that your content or task pane app requires a specific subset of the JavaScript API for Office. For example, you can declare that your app can only be activated when the Office host application it's working with supports the methods for creating and working with bindings. Additionally, you can optionally declare that your app supports specific methods. By specifying requirements instead of targeting specific host apps, apps for Office will be automatically available in the broadest set of clients and client versions. For more information, see How to: Specify API requirement sets and methods for your app.

For mail apps that use the v1.1 app for Office manifest, only one "Mailbox" requirement set is available. This requirement set contains the entire subset of API supported in mail apps for Outlook.

Important: When mail apps use the v1.1 of the app for Office manifest, specifying the "Mailbox" requirement set is required (not optional as is the case for requirements in content and task pane apps). Also, you can't declare support for specific methods in mail apps.

Two capabilities have been added to the app model framework that affect when and how developers implement licensing checks in their apps for Office and SharePoint. With the Office 2013 SP1, users can activate apps for Office from the Office Store without being signed in with a Microsoft Account. When a user activates an app for Office, the Office application containing the app sends an HTTP requests to the app home page. Previously, a license token was passed as an encoded URL query parameter as part of this request. With Office 2013 SP1, the license token will be passed as part of this request only if the user is signed in with their Microsoft Account. If the user is not signed in to their Microsoft account, the Office application requesting the app home page does not append the license token parameter. Therefore, you must include code in your app that determines whether the license token is present on each HTTP request for the app’s home page.

Developers can publish apps for Office and SharePoint to the Office Store with a paid subscription license. Subscription apps are offered on a monthly, automatic-renewal basis, until users manually cancel their subscriptions. To enable you to customize your app’s UI or behavior based on subscription status, the app licensing framework now includes a way to determine the subscription status of your app. The app license token contains a new parameter, ss, which represents the status of the user’s app subscription.

Learn more about these changes in the article What's new in licensing apps for Office and SharePoint.

The new Enable Just My Code option in Visual Studio 2013 lets you fine-tune where code breaks when exceptions occur while debugging your apps for Office and apps for SharePoint. When this option is selected, code will break only when exceptions occur in your app's code, not when exceptions occur elsewhere. This option is located on the Visual Studio menu bar from Tools, Options, Debugging, General.

To install this new option, download the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 - March 2014 Update.

Office 2013 SP1 is an exciting release and there are numerous features and supporting technologies that are designed to help you, the developer. The goal is to make your job easier by saving you time and enabling you to use the skills and resources you have, more efficiently. Office 2013 SP1 is all about improving the web in Office, enabling productivity across devices. This technical article only provides a glimpse of what Office 2013 SP1 offers. There are many more new and improved features and technologies in Office 2013 SP1.

© 2014 Microsoft