Development lifecycle for apps for Office
This topic describes the project lifecycle of an app for Office from conception to publishing.
Last modified: February 27, 2014
Applies to: Access app for SharePoint | Excel 2013 | Excel 2013 RT | Excel 2013 SP1 | Excel Online | Exchange Online | Exchange Server 2013 | Exchange Server 2013 SP1 | 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 SP1 | Project Professional 2013 | Word 2013 | Word 2013 RT | Word 2013 SP1
Office.js: v1.0, v1.1
Apps for Office manifests schema: v1.0, v1.1
"Outlook" in this article refers to the Outlook rich client, Outlook RT, Outlook Web App, and OWA for Devices.
The typical project lifecycle of a content, mail, or task pane app involves the following process:
Decide on the purpose of the app.
Ask the following questions:
How is the app useful?
How does it help people to be more productive?
What are the scenarios where people can use its features?
Decide the most important features and scenarios and focus your design around those scenarios.
Identify the data and data source for the app.
Is the data in a database, document, workbook, project, or about an item or items in a mailbox? Is the data from an external source such as a web service?
Identify the type of app and Office host applications that best support the purpose of the app.
Consider the following to identify the scenarios where people will use the app:
Will people use the app to enrich the content of a document? If so, you may want to consider creating a content app. Currently, you can create content apps for Access, Excel and Excel Online.
Will people use the app while viewing or composing an email message or appointment? Is being able to expose the app according to the current context important? Is making the app available on not just the desktop but also the tablet or smartphone a priority?
If your answer to any of the prior questions is yes, you may want to consider creating a mail app. Currently, you can create mail apps for the Outlook rich client, Outlook Web App and OWA for Devices, if your mailbox resides on an Exchange Server. You should then identify the context that will trigger your app (for example, the user being in a compose form, specific message types, the presence of an attachment, address, task suggestion, or meeting suggestion, or certain string patterns in the contents of an email or appointment). See Activate mail apps in Outlook clients to find out how you can contextually activate the mail app.
Will people use the app to enhance the viewing or authoring experience of a document? If so, you may want to consider creating a task pane app. Currently, you can create task pane apps for Excel, Excel Online, PowerPoint, Project, and Word.
Design and implement the user experience and user interface for the app.
Design a fast and fluid user experience that is consistent, easy to learn, with primary scenarios that require only a few steps to complete. Depending on the purpose of the app, make use of third party APIs or web services to fulfill the scenarios.
Create an XML manifest file based on the apps for Office manifest schema.
You can specify the context, based on the current message or appointment, under which your app is relevant and you would like Outlook to make it available for use in the user interface. You should also decide the devices that you want the app to support. In the manifest, specify the context as activation rules and the supported devices.
Install and test the app.
Install the mail app into an Exchange mailbox, and specify the location of the app manifest file in the Exchange Admin Center (EAC). For more information about installing mail apps, see the examples in How to: Install sample mail apps in Outlook and Deploy and install mail apps for testing in Outlook.
See the following topics for more information about testing and debugging mail apps:
Publish the app.
You can submit the app to the Office Store, from which customers can install the app. In addition, you can publish task pane and content apps to a private folder app catalog on SharePoint or to a shared network folder, and you can deploy a mail app directly on an for your organization. For details, see Publishing your app for Office.
Updating the app
Contextual activation for mail apps
Designing the user interface
Creating a manifest
Installing and testing
Publishing and licensing