Exclusive: A first look at the “Agave” apps for Office 2013

By damaster | Posted July 13, 2012 32 comments

Agave apps for OfficeBack in March this year, we reported that Microsoft was readying a Office web extensions platform called “Agaves”, which allows developers to create an area within Office applications that lets webpages interact with documents and augment content with extra features.

Today we received more information about these “Agave” apps. As shown in the image to the right, there are three types of apps available for Office 2013, which are fairly consistent with what we reported earlier. Below we’ve included a real example for each type of app along with screenshots of it in action:

  • Task Pane app for OfficeAdd functionality for Excel and Word documents in a task pane that is adjacent to the document. Requires Microsoft Office 2013. These apps are reportedly to be only available for the actual Excel, Word and Project 2013 applications (and not their Office Web App counterpart). Examples include dictionary and reference apps like Britannica, Merriam-Webster, and Factiva allowing you search for information on the web and insert them into your documents. Below is a screenshot of the Bing News Search app running in Word 2013 which allow users to easily find relevant contents and videos from Bing News and include them into their document:

    NewsSearch2

  • Content app for ExcelAdd content and functionality to the body of an Excel document. These apps are reportedly to work on Excel Web App in addition to Excel 2013. Examples include letting you plot data on a map, or select date and times into cells using an embedded calendar. Below is a screenshot of the Bing Maps app that allow users to use location data in their spreadsheet and plot them on Bing Maps:

    Maps2

  • Mail app for OfficeAdd content and functionality adjacent to an Outlook item based on a set of activation rules. These apps are reportedly to require Outlook 2013 or Outlook Web App connected to Exchange 2013. Examples include viewing contact’s social network profiles directly in Outlook, or booking hotels and car rentals within Outlook, all based on contextual information from Outlook messages, contacts and appointments. A screenshot of the LinkedIn app is shown below:

    Page2

All of these apps can made available by developers on an upcoming Office Store, where developers can list their apps and monetize them in the marketplace. Users can directly install apps by signing in to their Microsoft account or their Office 365 account. With the announcement of Office 2013 Preview (public beta) imminent, perhaps as soon as next Monday, we should be hearing about these “Agave” apps, amongst other new features yet to be revealed, really soon. What do you think about these new “Agave” apps? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted July 13th, 2012 at 7:33 pm
  • http://twitter.com/bart_willeman Bart Willeman

    Reading this, would it be crazy if Hotmail would be renamed to Outlook Web? Or something like it. As a replacement of the New Mail moniker

  • http://twitter.com/bart_willeman Bart Willeman

    Reading this, would it be crazy if Hotmail would be renamed to Outlook Web? Or something like it. As a replacement of the New Mail moniker

  • FremyCompany

    Seems really nice. If it’s not too complex to develop, Microsoft might well have found a successful plugin system. I just would have preferred OneNote to get them, because it’s the feature OneNote miss the most.

    • damaster

      They are HTML and JavaScript-based. You can check out the MSDN documentations here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh623124.aspx

    • http://twitter.com/crossslide bam!

      Definitely agree it’s disappointing OneNote apparently won’t get these extensions. :(

  • FremyCompany

    Seems really nice. If it’s not too complex to develop, Microsoft might well have found a successful plugin system. I just would have preferred OneNote to get them, because it’s the feature OneNote miss the most.

    • Damaster – LiveSide.net

      They are HTML and JavaScript-based. You can check out the MSDN documentations here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh623124.aspx

    • http://twitter.com/crossslide bam!

      Definitely agree it’s disappointing OneNote apparently won’t get these extensions. :(

  • Fredrik

    Very similar functionality was already in office 2003 and got cut with the introduction of of Office 2007, the reason then being that extensive studies showed people managed to clutter their apps with too many panels and toolbars. Now, they are introduced again as new. Micorosoft seem to have a very short memory. I see no use for these panels whatsoever. If you are writing a document in Word and want to do research, why not simply open the web browser (and dock it to left or right). Much more functional. I Think Microsoft is heading the same way as Nokia – the Windows 8 concept is just fundamentally flawed and will not work on a desktop. Using the metro interface with a keyboard and mouse and monitor is just torture, and the  level of functionality in the metro apps are even below the functionality of the apps on windows phone mango. For instace a web browser that cannot save bookmarks – that must be some kind of ultimate low  for a web browser.

    • sab0tage

      “Using the metro interface with a keyboard and mouse and monitor is just torture”

      That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day.

      • Markymarc18

        I’d say that’s a fair statement… Win8 is forcing a touch UI onto devices where the mouse/keyboard paradigm dominates, and its a completely different experience imho.

        I’m as mobile as the next guy, but I like having the traditional Windows UI when I’m home *because* its different than all my other devices. Its my work station and the hub for everything else, and my touch devices don’t allow me to be nearly as productive as my PCs. My hunch is most average consumers will feel the same way.

        On top of which, i think Metro itself just looks terrible. Windows and Metro are two vastly different animals, and Windows 8 looks like FrankenOS.

        Count me out for this cycle… I’ll stick with 7.

    • Emi the Strange

      wow if you wanted to write a retarded comment well you did a good job.

      and if you dont even know what you are talking about why comment then? if you cant even know to use Windows 8 Metro UI. well you just sound like an idiot.
      one thing its you dont like metro UI but saying its a torture and will not work in desktops? maybe in YOUR desktop because it works in mine perfectly fine. now my start menu is not buried in folders and folders and small icons.

      • Fredrik

        Actually the start menu is OK in metro. But the metro apps are just a joke in my opinion. Simple tasks like searching in an app means you have to make acrobatic movements with your mouse or memorize shortcuts. And even if the interface is brand new, it is already filled with inconsicenties. For example, in the Reader app, you search by rightclicking and chosing search. In the e-mail app you use the serch charm, and  the search results are displayed in the app on the left side. In the maps application, results are shown in the search pane to the right (and only
        5 results are displayed, you cannot show more).
        I know some people like metro and that’s ok, but I am pretty sure most people who own a desktop computer or regular laptop will see no benefit in metro apps.

        • http://twitter.com/crossslide bam!

          That’s not really an inconsistency – the guidelines are that general search of an app as a whole should be done with the search charm but “find in page” (as in Reader) should be done with an in-app command, so both are consistent with the guidelines. I think “find in page” is pretty different from search so it makes sense they would be done differently – this isn’t specific to Windows Store apps (for instance, in Gmail on the web do you search your entire inbox the same way you search within a message? For that matter in a web browser itself do you search the entire web the same way you search within a page? Do you search all your Word documents the same way you search within a document? etc., etc.)

          btw, search results on the maps app come up on the canvas just as in other apps so not sure what you’re referring to here.

          • Fredrik

            If your are in map application and do the mouse twist to get to search, then write an address, the address matches are delivered in the right-hand pane in the latest consumer preview with all updates applied.

            I  am in a document and I want to find something. Why would I not try and go to the search charm to do that? Why would it be intuitive that I would rightclick to search in the reader app, but when in the music app I would do it in another way? Guideline or not, it makes no sense to me.

            Metro is all new, and when you make something from scratch, you have the ability to make everything consistent and straightforward. By hiding away the most important and probably most often used command, the search box, and now even hiding it in different places, I think MS has radically lowered the discoverability, the time it takes to find things and usability for the whole group of people that uses  a desktop computer. I really question this design decision and I think it is an awful one.

            Also, how many times would it make sense to search the weather from the music app? Things just don’t make sense.

          • http://twitter.com/crossslide bam!

            “If your are in map application and do the mouse twist to get to search, then write an address, the address matches are delivered in the right-hand pane in the latest consumer preview with all updates applied.”

            No, I just tried it – the results are shown in the left pane just like other apps. What the search pane on the right is showing is not results, but search suggestions, which is also consistent with other apps.

            “Why would it be intuitive that I would rightclick to search in the reader app, but when in the music app I would do it in another way?”

            Again, you’re doing different things. In one case you’re performing a “find in page”, in the other case you’re searching the whole app. The search charm is for searching a whole app. It’s not inconsistent to have different UI for different actions.

            “Also, how many times would it make sense to search the weather from the music app?”

            I actually do find it fairly common to want to search multiple apps for the same terms – for example, web + social networks or social networks + mail or web + music or Music + Lyrics. If you’ve previously searched an app for some term the search suggestions can be a quick way to get the term back so you can search for it in another app.

  • Fredrik

    Very similar functionality was already in office 2003 and got cut with the introduction of of Office 2007, the reason then being that extensive studies showed people managed to clutter their apps with too many panels and toolbars. Now, they are introduced again as new. Micorosoft seem to have a very short memory. I see no use for these panels whatsoever. If you are writing a document in Word and want to do research, why not simply open the web browser (and dock it to left or right). Much more functional. I Think Microsoft is heading the same way as Nokia – the Windows 8 concept is just fundamentally flawed and will not work on a desktop. Using the metro interface with a keyboard and mouse and monitor is just torture, and the  level of functionality in the metro apps are even below the functionality of the apps on windows phone mango. For instace a web browser that cannot save bookmarks – that must be some kind of ultimate low  for a web browser.

    • sab0tage

      “Using the metro interface with a keyboard and mouse and monitor is just torture”

      That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day.

      • Markymarc18

        I’d say that’s a fair statement… Win8 is forcing a touch UI onto devices where the mouse/keyboard paradigm dominates, and its a completely different experience imho.

        I’m as mobile as the next guy, but I like having the traditional Windows UI when I’m home *because* its different than all my other devices. Its my work station and the hub for everything else, and my touch devices don’t allow me to be nearly as productive as my PCs. My hunch is most average consumers will feel the same way.

        On top of which, i think Metro itself just looks terrible. Windows and Metro are two vastly different animals, and Windows 8 looks like FrankenOS.

        Count me out for this cycle… I’ll stick with 7.

    • Emi Cyberschreiber

      wow if you wanted to write a retarded comment well you did a good job.

      and if you dont even know what you are talking about why comment then? if you cant even know to use Windows 8 Metro UI. well you just sound like an idiot.
      one thing its you dont like metro UI but saying its a torture and will not work in desktops? maybe in YOUR desktop because it works in mine perfectly fine. now my start menu is not buried in folders and folders and small icons.

      • Fredrik

        Actually the start menu is OK in metro. But the metro apps are just a joke in my opinion. Simple tasks like searching in an app means you have to make acrobatic movements with your mouse or memorize shortcuts. And even if the interface is brand new, it is already filled with inconsicenties. For example, in the Reader app, you search by rightclicking and chosing search. In the e-mail app you use the serch charm, and  the search results are displayed in the app on the left side. In the maps application, results are shown in the search pane to the right (and only
        5 results are displayed, you cannot show more).
        I know some people like metro and that’s ok, but I am pretty sure most people who own a desktop computer or regular laptop will see no benefit in metro apps.

        • http://twitter.com/crossslide bam!

          That’s not really an inconsistency – the guidelines are that general search of an app as a whole should be done with the search charm but “find in page” (as in Reader) should be done with an in-app command, so both are consistent with the guidelines. I think “find in page” is pretty different from search so it makes sense they would be done differently – this isn’t specific to Windows Store apps (for instance, in Gmail on the web do you search your entire inbox the same way you search within a message? For that matter in a web browser itself do you search the entire web the same way you search within a page? Do you search all your Word documents the same way you search within a document? etc., etc.)

          btw, search results on the maps app come up on the canvas just as in other apps so not sure what you’re referring to here.

          • Fredrik

            If your are in map application and do the mouse twist to get to search, then write an address, the address matches are delivered in the right-hand pane in the latest consumer preview with all updates applied.

            I  am in a document and I want to find something. Why would I not try and go to the search charm to do that? Why would it be intuitive that I would rightclick to search in the reader app, but when in the music app I would do it in another way? Guideline or not, it makes no sense to me.

            Metro is all new, and when you make something from scratch, you have the ability to make everything consistent and straightforward. By hiding away the most important and probably most often used command, the search box, and now even hiding it in different places, I think MS has radically lowered the discoverability, the time it takes to find things and usability for the whole group of people that uses  a desktop computer. I really question this design decision and I think it is an awful one.

            Also, how many times would it make sense to search the weather from the music app? Things just don’t make sense.

          • http://twitter.com/crossslide bam!

            “If your are in map application and do the mouse twist to get to search, then write an address, the address matches are delivered in the right-hand pane in the latest consumer preview with all updates applied.”

            No, I just tried it – the results are shown in the left pane just like other apps. What the search pane on the right is showing is not results, but search suggestions, which is also consistent with other apps.

            “Why would it be intuitive that I would rightclick to search in the reader app, but when in the music app I would do it in another way?”

            Again, you’re doing different things. In one case you’re performing a “find in page”, in the other case you’re searching the whole app. The search charm is for searching a whole app. It’s not inconsistent to have different UI for different actions.

            “Also, how many times would it make sense to search the weather from the music app?”

            I actually do find it fairly common to want to search multiple apps for the same terms – for example, web + social networks or social networks + mail or web + music or Music + Lyrics. If you’ve previously searched an app for some term the search suggestions can be a quick way to get the term back so you can search for it in another app.

  • JohnCz

    The Excel mapping Content app example looks like something I will be able to utilize instantly and probably daily…love it.  It will be interesting to see what if any changes have been made to Office automation (VBA) scripting. I have a few ideas for a Mail app.

  • JohnCz

    The Excel mapping Content app example looks like something I will be able to utilize instantly and probably daily…love it.  It will be interesting to see what if any changes have been made to Office automation (VBA) scripting. I have a few ideas for a Mail app.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gootoor Goo Toor

    Only if they could make office more affordable for rest of the world

  • http://www.facebook.com/gootoor Goo Toor

    Only if they could make office more affordable for rest of the world

  • gerryrivers86

    its possible that Microsoft would limit the amount of Office editions maybe something like Standard, Professional, RT, and Web, and adjust their pricing, it would be smart and match their current Windows scheme

  • gerryrivers86

    its possible that Microsoft would limit the amount of Office editions maybe something like Standard, Professional, RT, and Web, and adjust their pricing, it would be smart and match their current Windows scheme

  • http://twitter.com/bart_willeman Bart Willeman

    With Office 2013 preview now imminent, any news on the Office web apps? Am keeping my fingers crossed that anyone installing the Office preview will be switched over to the new web apps as well

  • http://twitter.com/bart_willeman Bart Willeman

    With Office 2013 preview now imminent, any news on the Office web apps? Am keeping my fingers crossed that anyone installing the Office preview will be switched over to the new web apps as well