5 ways to boost your collaborative app development

Daniel Carrasco

The way we work has changed, and the way we develop applications has also changed. Today, organizations and teams are increasingly using collaborative apps to enhance their efficiency and productivity. These applications are team-centric, user-friendly, intuitive, connecting users to the tools they need, right when they need them the most, and designed with collaboration principles at their core.

At Ignite 2022, we shared with you what Microsoft is doing to equip application developers with the tools they need to create these types of collaborative applications to power the changing workplaces of tomorrow.

 

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In case you missed it, here are the top five takeaways to help you boost your collaborative app development:

1. Make staying in the flow of work more intuitive

Do you know how many times a day you copy and paste a link in a chat or meeting to share information? Well, we have. In summary, many (many) times. Links are one of the most popular forms of sharing content in Microsoft Teams today. When users share a link of your Teams app, it gets discovered by users who may want to collaborate right away, get feedback on your work, or simply explain your link’s context.

At Ignite, we announced new content collaboration capabilities for your Teams apps to make staying in the flow of work more intuitive. With link unfurling, collaborative stageview, and share to meeting you can help your customers take advantage of collaborative workflows inside of Teams to make it even easier to stay in the flow of work. In addition, you can take advantage of Adaptive Cards to help you increase engagement and efficiency by injecting actionable content directly into your apps, without switching context. Plus, with new features for Loop components, you can make Adaptive Cards even more powerful.

In a nutshell, new content collaboration capabilities include:

  • Link unfurling allows Teams users to share a rich, interactive preview of the work they’re doing in your app, simply by pasting a URL into a Teams chat. (Public preview)
  • Collaborative stageview lets users immediately start interacting with shared content without leaving Teams. (Public preview end of 2022)
  • Share to meeting enables the spontaneous creation of a Teams meeting where users can share your app’s content. (Public preview)
  • Loop components allow you to embed live, actionable units of productivity that stay in sync and move freely across Teams and Outlook. (Public preview 2023)

2. Empower everyone to build collaborative apps with the right tools

Building collaborative apps shouldn’t just be a goal of pro developers. It should be for anyone trying to solve a problem or improve their flow of work on Teams. Microsoft offers the full spectrum of tools for anyone interested in building collaborative apps in your organization, more efficiently and easier!

For example, if you are a pro-developer building entirely new collaborative apps, the integration of Teams Toolkit into Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code helps simplify the way you build, debug, deploy, and publish your Teams apps.

In a nutshell the following new additions empowering pro devs include:

  • Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio 2022 helps .NET developers get started fast (general availability).
  • Teams Toolkit allows you to get started building new experiences for Teams and now also extending it to Outlook and Office.com.
  • Teams applications can now be extended to Office Mobile on Android (public preview).
  • Fluid UI React v9 allows you to build UX experiences in Microsoft 365 (general availability).
  • Upgraded templates let you use the latest SharePoint framework (public preview).

If you are a citizen or low-code developer, Power Platform allows you to easily bring professional functionality into your Teams apps with drag and drop components, Adaptive Cards, and micro-applets to power new experiences.

In a nutshell, the following new additions make it easier for citizen and low-code devs to build collaborative apps in Teams:

  • Cards in Power Apps help you create and send engaging and interactive mini apps.
  • Collaboration Controls for Power Apps allows you to easily drag and drop your favorite Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Graph API services directly into your own model-driven Power Apps without the need for any pro developer tools.

3. Integrate robust communication capabilities in your apps, beyond Teams

Collaboration doesn’t have to be limited to the Teams shell. You can also bring Teams capabilities to new surfaces to expand collaboration in your custom applications and workflows.

To bring Teams communication experiences into your apps, try Azure Communication Services to build standalone apps that integrate seamlessly into Teams users’ audio, video, and telephony services, with added capabilities for SMS and email notifications. Plus, by matching with the Microsoft Graph API, developers can add and manage chats, channels, and Teams Meetings, as well as control server- and client-side calling bots and get information about people in the organization.

Altogether, Azure Communication Services, the Microsoft Graph API, and Teams unlock new possibilities for building powerful custom communication apps. Driving that point home are our friends at Lynk & Co, who launched an in-car meeting app that gives drivers access to Teams meetings.

In a nutshell:

  • Azure Communication Services support for Teams users allows you to embed Teams capabilities such as audio, video, and telephony for Teams users. You can also connect with non-Teams users with extended interoperability capabilities for B2C scenarios (general availability).
  • Microsoft Graph API helps you bring Teams chat capabilities into your custom applications, in addition to all the intelligent information from your Microsoft 365 powered organization to boost your custom collaborative applications.

4. Connect big datasets to reveal new insights into how your customers work

Apps that enable collaboration are one side of the coin. The other is using organizational insights and analytics built on big datasets to help teams understand how work is changing and evolving. With Microsoft Graph Data Connect, you can now connect the power of Azure Synapse Analytics to supercharge your analytics, intelligence, and business process apps. In just one click, you can move Microsoft 365 datasets into Azure Synapse to harness its powerful business intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

In a nutshell, new Microsoft Graph Data Connect capabilities include:

  • Synapse templates act as blueprints so you can follow best practices and government regulations for data and analytics (public preview).
  • Mapping data flows are visually designed data transformations that allow data transformation logic without writing code (public preview).
  • Accelerate time to insights with new approval and consent experience for admins to easily review data access requests from ISVs (public preview). Plus, with ISV Flow now it is possible for Azure billing to flow directly to the ISV instead of to the customer (public preview).
  • Solution Templates such as Organizational network analysis help you visualize employee connections (public preview), and SharePoint information oversharing helps you limit information oversharing on SharePoint (public preview).

5. Bring trusted collaboration with streamlined security and user privacy

To lead to an effective collaboration, trust is at the center. In addition to the new capabilities that make it easier and more powerful to build collaborative apps, we’ve also made updates for how to keep them secure and manage governance. The following new changes not only help developers build compliant apps, but also provide administrators with the tools to manage them.

In a nutshell:

  • End-to-end audit logging in Microsoft Compliance Center so that IT admins can better enforce data usage guidelines and mitigate the risk of data leakage.
  • Microsoft 365 end-to-end encryption, helping to ensure that there is no inadvertent leakage of data in transit or at rest. Also by default is data anonymization, including enhanced user identity obfuscation to help preserve end user privacy while still enabling organizations to run their analytics on top of obfuscated data.
  • App Compliance Automation Tool for Microsoft 365 automates the evaluation of controls in the app certification process.
  • App Policy Management helps you customize your app management policies to meet the needs of your organization for app security and hygiene.
  • App Health Recommendations give you more visibility and insight into your app usage to support actions like removing the unused applications or retiring stale application credentials.
  • App Usage and Insights help you better mitigate security risks and prevent potential security incidents. Track insights like when an app was last used, it’s permission mode, and the context in which it was used.

This is just the start…

With so many new updates, it’s an exciting time to build amazing apps that can power new workflows and integrate beautifully with Teams. Professional developers and low-code builders alike can create collaborative Teams apps. And tap into a thriving Teams marketplace with over 1,600 apps and experiences.

Whether you’re building a Teams app or embedding Teams functionality into your app, we can’t wait to see what you’ll build next, boosting your collaborative apps to new frontiers!

To get started, join the Microsoft 365 Developer Program today and check out how you can put your app at the center of collaboration!

And, if you missed it, check out our Ignite session to find more about building collaborative apps to power an evolving workplace.

Happy coding!

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