You can use your favorite social network to register or link an existing account:
Or use your email address to register without a social network:
Sign in with these social networks:
Or enter your username and password
Forgot your password?
Yes, please link my existing account with for quick, secure access.
No, I would like to create a new account with my profile information.
For the first post to the Office Web Apps blog (not counting the 'hello world' post we did on Monday!) I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the tenets that drive our design and engineering. These tenets reflect the fundamentals that we aim to achieve and should provide insight into the tradeoffs we make.
Tenet #1: Trustworthy
First and foremost we want to build web applications that users can trust. Many elements regarding trust are quite common amongst web applications. For example, most web applications need to be reliable, available, responsive, respect user's privacy, backup data, etc. For the purpose of this blog post I will not spend time talking about these aspects of 'trust' as most web applications share these principles. What I do want to discuss is how our team views 'trust' in the context of web productivity applications and some specifics about what we are doing to earn trust.
Round-tripping (or preservation) of documents:
When a user works with a document in an Office Web App, the Web app will preserve the data in the document, even if the Web app doesn't support a specific feature. For example, the Word Web App will not support editing 'Watermarks' in the initial version. However if a user opens a document with a 'Watermark' in the Word Web App, makes some changes and saves, the 'Watermark' will remain in the document. It is very important that when customers use the Web apps they can do so trusting that they will not lose data or 'mess up' the document.
Another example is that I may create a spreadsheet in the Excel desktop app and then share it with a friend. My friend may want to add data or change numbers, even though she doesn't have Office installed on her machine. Using the Excel Web App, she can make changes knowing that the integrity of the spreadsheet will be preserved. The formulas, charts, worksheets, pivot tables will all continue to be intact in the spreadsheet (unless changed by my friend).
While this may seem obvious, it’s harder than it seems. Others use an 'import/export' model and convert the documents to a simpler form for editing on the web. This approach works adequately for some scenarios, but it takes just one or two instances of content being 'lost in translation' for users to lose trust in the Web Apps. With Office Web Apps, we want people to use them with confidence and knowing that their content will be safe.
Tenet #2: Familiar Office User Experience
We want Office Web Apps to be easy and fun to use. We know that the 'Office' brand comes with high expectations and we aim for the Web apps to have a high quality look, feel, and level of usability. We use the word 'Familiar' in this tenet as there are hundreds of millions of Office users today and that consistency with existing experiences will make it easier for customers to work with the Web apps' interface.
It is important to note that the tenet is not called "Replicate the Office desktop apps' interface exactly in the browser". We recognize that the web platform has different conventions and we want to ensure that the Web apps utilize the best of the web and take advantage of the web platform's strengths. An analogy is Mac Office and Windows Office. While much of the UI/behavior is consistent, the interfaces are not identical as each is optimized for the underlying platform.
Perhaps the most obvious place where customers will recognize our efforts towards this tenet is in the look and feel of the application. The icons will be familiar, the text of commands will match the desktop apps, all the apps use the 'Ribbon' interface, etc. In the individual apps you can expect to see sheet 'tabs' at the bottom of Excel, a view of the slides on the left in PowerPoint, or the familiar formatting commands in Word.
We’ve also made a big investment in consistent behaviors. This includes some of the basics that Office users have come to expect like AutoCorrect and background spellchecking. I'll provide a more detailed example to illustrate the level of thought that goes into building a productivity application. Try the following in the text editor of your choice:
1. Create a new document
2. Insert a table at the very top of the document
3. Add text above the table
In Word (both the dektop app and the Web app), if you simply hit 'enter' while your IP (insertion pointer) is in the upper-left of the table it will create a new paragraph above the table. This makes sense but requires special logic, as normally hitting 'enter' in a cell creates a new line in that cell. Most users likely never notice this, but without this type of subtle logic editing can be frustrating. This attention to detail is part of what separates basic editors (or spreadsheets/presentations) from applications designed to provide an 'Office quality experience'.
Below is a visual showing this behavioral difference between Microsoft Word (top) and Microsoft Writer (bottom).
Tenet #3: High Fidelity
For many people, Office documents are their 'work product'. Most people take pride in their work and their documents. With Office Web Apps, we want to ensure that users can view and share content with the confidence that others will see their work as intended. We've even seen a major product category (Adobe PDF/Acrobat) designed for this express goal.
With the Web apps, we use the term 'fidelity' to span a broad spectrum from visual fidelity (e.g. formatting and layout) to data fidelity (e.g. calculations and formulas) to behavioral fidelity (e.g. builds/animations in presentations). Office customers will expect that their content will look and act the same on the web as it does on their PC. For an engineer, this could mean that a design document has the correct layout, diagrams, pictures, and pagination when shared. For an accountant they want to be sure that the formulas always compute the same way and that their charts or tables accurately represent the data. A salesperson will want his/her slide deck to look professional and as designed, builds/animations to work, and for the notes to be available.
Some Additional thoughts
I do want to be clear that what is listed above are 'tenets' ('tenet' is defined by Merriam-Webster as a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true) and not absolutes or promises. Software is never perfect, and I'm sure many readers of this blog will be quick to point out bugs/features/flaws where the Web apps don’t quite live up to these tenets. However they do guide us through the engineering process and hopefully many readers of this blog agree that these are the right tenets for Office Web Apps. If you have an opinion, please share it in the comments!
Office Web Apps Group Program Manager
This approach is fantastic. I'll prefer Office Web apps over Google Docs if my document layout is always going to be preserved. But they need to be full-featured by V2 esp if you're using Silverlight which has the potential to mirror desktop apps. Also, for those who cannot afford multiple Office licenses on various devices they use while on the go, web apps will be fantastic.
To use the office webapp, what must a user have on his computer besides a browser with Silverlight installed? is there any other activex?
To use the Office Web Apps you need a supported browser. We currently support IE 7 and 8 and FF 3.5 on Windows and FF 3.5 and Safari on the Mac.
Other browsers may also work but these are the browsers we are using for testing.
nsimons, thank you for answering.
But my question isn't about browsers, it's about what else must be installed besides brower and silverlight.
The only requirement is a supported browser. Silverlight is not required. Nor is any other add-in.
Nick Simons, thank you.
But I learned from many medias the office web apps is based on silverlight, are they all wrong?
what about office web apps for mobile devices? No silverlight required either?
Thanks, this is a nice blog. I have to say that all this looks really nice. The reason I will never be using this is because of tenet 0 -- preserve the huge Office revenues at all costs. Not being able to create a document makes this pretty much a non-starter.
In a previous time, I had no choice but to spend $250 to start using a word processor. I believe that tenet 0 really shapes your product into something much more inferior than you can/should make it. That's unfortunate. The video took pains to make it sound natural that you don't want to create new docs, just edit existing ones.
You will be able to create documents from scratch using Office Web Apps. In version 1 you will not have access to all the features available in the rich client.
bambin0, you made a good statement here, but obviously not the right one.
nsimons, please answer my question, what's silverlight's role in future office web apps, this is what troubles me the most.
Nick Simons, I'm a silverlight rich client developer, that's why I'm very concerned with office web apps and silverlight. I believe your answer will give light to the new applications I'm developing.
So please answer, thank you.
We have a post planned for next week that will focus on our efforts to be compatible with the high-market-share browsers. This post will also talk about the role of Silverlight.
Word Web App and PowerPoint Web App both take advantage of Silverlight if it is installed. Silverlight enhances some features in these apps but it is not required to use the apps. Next week's post should provide more perspective on our approach.
Nick Simons, thank you! This solves all my doubt.
With the existing Office product, Microsoft has designed the architecture so that it can be extended by third party (COM) addins. Will there be an architecture for extending Office Web Apps?