Microsoft Launches Open Source Tools for Creating Office Add-ins

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 01, 2015

Has Microsoft finally, truly warmed up to open source? New CEO Satya Nadella (shown) is definitely pushing that notion. Several media outlets previously reported on his comments on how he "loves Linux" and he has claimed that approximately 30 percent of Microsoft's Azure cloud is already Linux-based.

Now, Microsoft is leveraging an open source and community-driven model to encourage developers to make useful add-ins for Office apps, in order to evolve the ecosystem of third-party applications and services that work with its productivity applications.

Office UI Fabric, the new toolset, is available as an open source project on GitHub, and is targeted to let developers make their add-ins look like the native Office user interface. The add-ins can work with Office applications for PCs, Macs and iPads.  

According to Microsoft:

"Fabric is a responsive, mobile-first, front-end framework, designed to make it quick and simple for you to create web experiences using the Office Design Language. It’s easy to get up and running with Fabric—whether you’re creating a new Office experience from scratch or adding new features to an existing one."

"We will do our best to release frequently and keep the community up-to-date with changes to the Design Language, components, and other assets. We also have to evolve quickly. This means that everyone gets the latest designs, but that features and assets can change often. Deprecated features will be marked in our changelog, and will be removed from the next major release following the deprecation announcement."

And, the GitHub post adds:

"Fabric solves many of the same problems that other front-end frameworks do, in a way that is specific to Microsoft. We have our own design language and interaction patterns that all Microsoft apps share. Like other frameworks, Fabric speeds up development by ensuring that your add-ins use standard typography, colors, icons, and more. You don't have to spend time overriding the styles of other frameworks. Fabric also includes components the other frameworks don’t have."

 With the toolset, developers can create add-ins using HTML and CSS. You can also view a complete list of additions, fixes, and changes in the changelog.