back to article Programming Office 365: Hands On with Microsoft's new APIs

Microsoft has announced new APIs and mobile software development kits for Office 365, its cloud platform for email, document storage, and collaboration. Office 365 uses Azure Active Directory (AD) for authentication, and the company is pushing the idea of using this not only for Office 365, but also as a corporate cloud …

  1. chrismeggs

    Straight out of the box, all this and more....

    Memories from an old Notes user.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the old MS Solution

    Run as Administrator

    To quote a certain TV presenter, 'What a load of old cock'

    And what is wrong with SOAP? A WSDL defines the contract between the two sides. Then you can validate the messages against the WSDL and sent it back if it does not conform. As for JSON, it has a lot of uses but its free format nature is a source of approx 50% of the errors we have to deal with on a dails basis. The older SOAP WebServices work day in , day out with very few errors.

    JSON, OHhhh shiny must use it.

    IF that colour scheme if light white on Blue is standard then IMHO it is useless. Many people of a certain age (me included) can't read it.

    1. Anonymous Bullard

      Re: Ah, the old MS Solution

      SOAP and WSDL are grossly over-engineered for a public API.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Ah, the old MS Solution

      I can only agree with the "JSON is for confused freshman who think everything needs to look like a JavaScript structure and have never had to deal with 'enterprisey' problems". Avoid like the plague.

      SOAP and WSDL may be "overengineered" but at least they are engineered. Use them. But avoid RPC mode, that idea was dumb when Distributed Computing Environment was a thing, it is dumb today.

      Also: Rick Hickey in: "The language of the system"

      1. Anonymous Bullard

        Re: Ah, the old MS Solution

        Normal XML (with an XSD for validation) is sufficient for most public APIs. JSON is best for when the end user client (browser) is making the calls (easy to parse and assemble).

        WSDL is handy for corporate, where the developers less adept and need point+click/wizard integration.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah, the old MS Solution

        " can only agree with the "JSON is for confused freshman who think everything needs to look like a JavaScript structure and have never had to deal with 'enterprisey' problems". Avoid like the plague."

        Actually its more a case of using C-family langauge style blocks which is a lot more intuitive, neater and more compact than XML which frankly is a dogs dinner lashup made up from cast offs off HTML and is virtually unreadable.

        I speak as someone with 25 years professional coding (C/C++, assembler) experience , not as a freshman. XML is a hideous joke - I'll take JSON any day thanks.

  3. Erik4872

    Cloud first indeed

    Microsoft is making all the moves to desensitize businesses to their worries about the cloud. Azure AD is going to be a big thing once Windows 10 comes out...not quite a Windows Live consumer account, not quite an on-premises Active Directory, but cheaper than running your own DCs for small business. It's vendor lock-in all over again -- no business is going to switch away from Microsoft's AAAaaS once they make the move even if the price goes through the roof. Same thing goes for the rest of Office 365 -- changing out the way users save files once they get used to storing them in the cloud will be just too hard. They basically want to rebuild their Windows/Office monopoly in the cloud.

    It's an interesting strategy - solve difficult problems that are very hard to change the processes of later (authentication, file storage, systems management, etc.) and even if it's not ideal, companies will permanently be paying the subscriptions because it's too hard to change and/or too cheap (in their minds) to do on-premises. Problem is, those subscriptions add up over time. How many people have heard someone at a car dealer say "how much can I get for $X per month?" not realizing that they're going to get tricked into a non-optimal lease or be paying a car loan for 7 years...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Cloud first indeed

      Exactly, but the worst part is it being cloud based and this being MS, means change without notice, to bad for you and no way to keep using the old version until you or the company can adapt.

      I've said it before and I'll say it again: we are going backward and we are doing it at a disastrous rate.

      The whole raison d'etre for the PC and its enthusiastic adoption and historic and record setting market growth was that it freed people from the mainframe prison and vendor lock in, allowing for a freedom of creativity not seen in centuries. Yet here we are, rushing right back into the prison without a thought in our pretty little heads.

    2. JW 1

      Re: Cloud first indeed

      3 months ago I would have agreed with you. Then I was let go from a tanking 'enterprisey' company. When I took over the IT management we were out of capital. Capital expenses are killer to struggling or small companies. The latter I'm becoming very aware of while consulting. These guys just cannot lay out the $2-$3K we regularly did back in the enterprise when we had cash. But most of them in either circumstance can dole out the monthly charge.

      In terms of MS raising prices, as long as there is competition, and there's plenty in this space, I bet they don't raise prices.

      In terms of lock-in I've been using Office 365 for four years now and have moved three new companies to it (it's fantastic for new, and smaller companies) and because of the OneDrive integration with the desktop a move off there really wouldn't be that tough.

      Just my experience though.

      JW

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Cloud first indeed

        Thanks for the other view JW 1. (sincerely)

        There will of course be quite a few success stories. I'm am opposed to using the cloud for internal business (and personal) operation data just on the principle that it is weak security from the start and vulnerable to the vendor's whims. Reasons that have yet to prove me wrong.

        I also realize that some of it can't be avoided these days, but whatever is in my control, stays off the cloud.

        If MS license costs are a problem, I would seek out a whole different vendor and solution. To not do so only empowers the extortion and defeats true market forces as well as the freedom from vendor lockin and the slow return to the days of the mainframe prison. Linux and Open Office/Libre Office come to mind as just one example.

        But, that's just me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    convoluted.ELF

    Why is Office 365 needed? The article goes on about what it is and isn't, but doesn't seem to mention why it's needed.

    To me, the whole thing sounds like a very complex, undependable overhead to a compiler.

  5. Deltics

    Slight addendum...

    "Another option is to stick with .NET and use Xamarin’s cross-platform compiler to target iOS and/or Android."

    And another option is to stick with the native platform API's and frameworks AND stick with Visual Studio and use RemObjects Elements to create platform NATIVE apps without any of the cruft and overhead of the embedded Mono runtime engine that Xamarin drags into your apps.

    Just saying.

  6. Cucumber C Face
    Windows

    Olé

    Here's to another 21 years of VBA.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's interesting that there seems to be an implicit assumption that because this is Microsoft, everyone will fall over themselves to use it "It is inevitable that if Microsoft sustains the momentum behind Office 365, there will be increasing demand for mobile apps that integrate with the service."

    Demand from whom? Sensible developers will see the new Microsoft standard of half-baked documentation; missing code from samples and non-working "features". They will then run a mile, or at least quote based on the effort required to wade through the morass - and add a huge maintenance fee to cover the inevitable failures that will occur as Microsoft flings more mud at the wall in the hope some might stick.

    "The Business" might "demand" integrated mobile apps, but it is likely to have a heart attack when presented with the price tag to produce them.

    This said from a twenty-year Microsoft veteran who has watched it become ever harder to produce a working application on the Microsoft stack ...

  8. idi

    Simple things matter...

    Like being able to amend email address aliases.. you cant do that, you can read them but not amend them.

    Have had to revert to creating a webservice of my own that uses PowerShell to get the job done, however PS is far from complete for things like adding domain capabilities. This is a PITA when you have 300+ accepted domains to create and you can only add them one by one with the crap (but slowly improving web interface). You can create them by PS but it adds them with no capabilities (eg no email capability) you cannot set any capabilities via the Set-MsolDomain cmdlet as the option is not available online.

  9. Semaj

    Another Auth System

    Oh great, another hosted authentication system from Microsoft. So far I believe this is their 4th but maybe I've missed one...

    To my knowledge they have:

    Live Connect, which seems fairly widely used but is secreted away somewhat and not really linked up to their Azure stuff.

    Azure ACS, which is now deprecated after being "best practice" for a little while.

    Azure Mobile Applications, which always seemed weird as an auth point for me but they bundled scheduled tasks in with those too so who knows?

    Of course there's also the good old forms auth stuff and Azure ACS was kind of linked with active directory on Azure too.

    Either way - this "ecosystem" is a massive mess for anyone just getting started. Honestly if it were up to me I'd not touch Microsoft auth with a barge pole. They just don't seem to know what they want to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another Auth System - reminds me of the ADO dance

      There have been so many different versions of the "let's use objects to access data" interfaces that I've lost count of them. Each one of these leaves a trail of legacy of code difficult to maintain, that locks you in on specific versions of languages, tools and IDEs, which in turn locks you to specific versions of OSs

      It could be useful for new developers coming to the MS "ecosystem" to study history to avoid repeating it.

    2. ScottME

      Re: Another Auth System

      "They just don't seem to know what they want to do."

      Oh but they do, They know exactly what they want, and in case you didn't realise: It's your money they are after, now and in future, as they lock you into their "ecosystem", which they keep "enhancing", to keep you running after them and paying them for all the changes you never asked for.

  10. Tim 11

    not just the APIs

    It's not just the APIs. we've been trying to use office 365 for internal document management for a few months and it's as flaky as hell, with frequent "service unavailable" messages.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      That's how it starts

      I'll be interested in seeing how Office365 holds up to usage. I will also have the ability to see the practical consequences almost first-hand, since one of my customers is migrating to that mess platform.

      I will be sure to post any juicy tidbits as I happen on them.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CDSL?

    "OData has its own XML schema definition language, called Common Schema Definition Language (CSDL), "

    Oh god, yet another bloody config language. Just what the world needs.

    Not.

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