Office 15 development to go JavaScript
Office 15 development to go JavaScript
Written by Ian Elliot   
Saturday, 06 August 2011

News that the next version of Office will use HTML5/JavaScript as its development environment is more evidence that Microsoft is serious about JavaScript being a front line language.

More evidence that Microsoft is serious about JavaScript being a front line language, and hence more evidence that JavaScript really is going to inherit the earth, is the news that the next version of Office will use HTML5/JavaScript as its development environment.


As with all of the information about what Microsoft is up to in the development area, it had to be uncovered. In this case by Mary-Jo Foley who regularly scans and interprets the job adverts that Microsoft places. Now consider this for a moment - currently the only way to find out what Microsoft has planned for developers in the near future is to scan the specifications for the people they are hiring. If there ever was a sign that things aren't right between leaders and followers it has to be this. Could Microsoft be any worse at communicating with developers?

In this case the job advert was for programmers to work with the Office 15 on its programmability. One for a software engineer included:

"Integration of JavaScript/HTML5 will enable developers to create rich applications that span clients and server, integrate with Office 365, enhance the SharePoint experience, and unlock new scenarios that unleash the great potential that lies in the combination of Office and the cloud."

Another made it clear that C# support wasn't going to be phased out:

" take full advantage of modern programming platforms (e.g., Visual Basic, C#, HTML, JavaScript) to quickly and easily develop innovative customized solutions for their organization.”

Of course Office has never really made it into the .NET fold. After a confusing start, Office standardized on Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and when .NET appeared it was reasonable to assume that VBA would be replaced by C# or VB .NET, but this never happened. The best .NET can offer is VSTO which allows the programmer to create add-ins or write applications that make use of Office components as COM objects. This is hardy the way to provide a macro language and so most Office users have stuck with VBA - the last outpost of classic VB and a huge anachronism.

Now it seems that, rather than embedding C# as a macro language within a .NET version of Office, what is going to happen is that support for HTML5 and JavaScript is to be added. Exactly how this would work is difficult to guess at. Given Office is still based on COM and ActiveX there doesn't seem to be an easy route to integrate it with HTML5 - unless ActiveX objects within the page are allowed!  Integrating JavaScript within the VBA type environment seems a much easier task and Microsoft already has the JScript language to base something on. Adding HTML forms to the script would also be easy but you can't get away from the need to access COM/ActiveX unless you either re-engineer the entire Office Suite or build a big complicated wrapper API around it. 

It still looks as if the future as far as Microsoft is concerned is HTML5/JavaScript shaped.


More details

Microsoft to focus on HTML5 and JavaScript for Office 15 extensions

Related reading

JavaScript inherits the earth


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