One of the many exciting additions to Office 2013 was the introduction of apps, through these apps it is possible to add, extend and enhance the functionality available to users, for example you could have an app to help track election results, add Facebook social to your sites or build workflows. The apps themselves are available for a number of the desktop clients, as well as SharePoint 2013 and Project Server 2013.
The idea behind apps in SharePoint is pretty simple, instead of allowing users to deploy what are known as ‘Full Trust Solutions’ to the SharePoint environment (these are solutions that execute code directly on the SharePoint servers) that could destabilise or alter SharePoint and impact it’s availability, Apps allow the same functionality to be hooked in remotely. The key to the app model is some clever architecture, allowing apps to be run either inside an isolate app site within SharePoint (known as SharePoint hosted), within a Microsoft Azure instance (Auto Hosted) or remotely on a providers infrastructure (known as Provider hosted). Through a number web friendly technologies such as oData, REST and CSOM, these apps can hook into SharePoint and Project Server seamlessly as if they were still installed on the same servers.
The apps, once built are available to be added to your SharePoint and Project Server sites from a central app marketplace. There are two options to choose from, a Microsoft hosted and operated app store, where apps are submitted, validated and then made available for download either at cost, or in a trial mode. Or if an organisation has developed their own app that they just want used internally, they can be deployed to a organisational app store called the Corporate Catalog (we’ll talk more about that later on).
Of course the great thing about apps and the Microsoft ecosystem in general is the information and tooling that is provided for you to build and customise these apps. Microsoft has spun up a dedicated blog and developer site to guide you through the concepts, requirements and process of building apps.
So where is all this going?
Well, I thought I would set out to build an app for Project Server. Thanks to an idea from a mailing list and some discussion amongst some of the Project MVPs, I decided to set out to build an app that when installed in PWA, allows you to publish all Enterprise Projects at the click of a button.
There is a fair amount of things to cover, so I have created a number of posts to cover the various topics:
- Part 1 - Getting Started – Setting up a development environment;
- Part 2 – Getting the basic app up and running;
- Part 3 – Taking the app to the next level; and,
- Part 4 – Submitting the app to the Office store.
- So make sure you stay tuned over the next few weeks