Monday, June 11, 2007

Microsoft has released Microsoft Office Interactive Developer Map, a new Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) app to help identify the various resources and solutions available for SharePoint work.

This tool is a must-have.

The Map is essentially a visual matrix, divided up into sections such as "Programs", "Tools", "Services", and "Servers". Each area contains a stack of programs, services, or tools. Hovering over an item in the stack provides a popup overview of how this item can be used.

Clicking on an item provides a cool "page-flip" effect, drilling in on the item's details. As an example, clicking on "InfoPath" provides a very detailed explanation of InfoPath news, technical references, community resources, and "features" or areas of functionality.

Not only is this tool slick-looking, it provides an excellent gateway for Office development. One of the big challenges right now is identifying and learning the myriad platform components. At least this tool puts that knowledge at your fingertips. It isn't always clear what the best development path is. I'd love to see best practices documents appearing on here, populated by the Patterns and Practices group or wider community. It's a "living document", meaning they will keep it up-to-date as new offerings and documents become available.

You can learn more at Microsoft's SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog at, while the tool itself is available for download at

P.S.: Having built some excellent functionality into the SharePoint platform, Microsoft's next big task is to empower developers to extend it. The Map is a great start. You can expect a Business Data Catalogue schema-generating tool imminently (or maybe it's already on the market ;) ? ). It's likely other tools are also on the way - an obvious candidate is something to help generate and deploy Content Types and Custom Columns.

P.P.S.: "Office Fluent" is what they're calling the Ribbon now!

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