As you’ve read, the new Office is here and for developers, this is an exciting time! The ability to insert add-ins into your documents, call new Office.js APIS, launch task panes inside your Office clients and run commands directly from the ribbon increases the productivity of your entire team! Add-ins now work across Office 2016 running on Windows, Office Online in your browser, Office 2016 on the Mac (Outlook currently) and Office on the iPad.

Office 2016 on Windows introduces some new extensibility features that will roll out over the other Office clients over time.

Add-in commands

Add-in commands provide ways to initiate specific add-in actions from the ribbon. This lets user’s access add-ins in a simple, intuitive and unobtrusive way. Because they offer increased functionality in a seamless manner, add-in commands allow developers to create more engaging scenarios and add-ins.

Add-in commands are declared in the add-in manifest in a new node called VersionOverrides. This node ensures backward compatibility because, in an environment that doesn’t support VersionOverrides, existing add-ins will continue to function as they did without add-in commands.

Check out Overview of add-in commands for mail and Create a manifest for add-in commands for details.

The screenshot below shows add-in commands on the ribbon at the right.

New in Office 2016 for developers 1 

There is support for ribbon groups too as shown in this screenshot:

New in Office 2016 for developers 2 

Run JavaScript using add-in commands

Add-in commands can also run JavaScript functions without further user input. In Outlook add-ins, you can perform actions such as track, remind me, print or for receiving more in-depth information from a service.

Launch task pane commands

You can use an add-in command button to launch a task pane to get more information from users. For example, the add-in may require changes to settings, or the completion of certain fields.

For details, check out “What UX shapes exist for add-in commands?

New in Office 2016 for developers 3 

Theming capabilities for add-ins

You can use the new Theming APIs in your mail and task pane Office Add-ins to integrate your add-in with the Office theme. This widely requested feature allows your add-in to look and feel like the rest of the Office experience—regardless of the user’s preferences. To learn more, see Theme property. The recently announced Office UI Fabric takes advantage of this new API.

New in Office 2016 for developers 4 

Excel and Word Office.js functionality

The new Excel and Word Office.js APIs provide a variety of Excel and Word specific functionality related to the documents being collaborated on. Examples include populating content controls in Word or inserting formatted charts in Excel and are a result of UserVoice feedback from Partners and developers worldwide submitted. We’ve been working on a Snippet Explorer for both Word and Excel to let you browse through code snippets for common scenarios and learn how the new Excel and Word APIs work.

The example below highlights the Diet Tracker code sample that inserts rich charts using the Office.js APIs in Excel:

New in Office 2016 for developers 5 

This screenshot highlights a Statement of Work Builder code sample that inserts rich formatted content into a document using Office.js in Word:

New in Office 2016 for developers 6 

For more information on the new Word and Excel Office.js capabilities, read “Increase the productivity of users with enhanced Office.js APIs in Office 2016.”

My apps now are My add-ins

Office 2016 has been updated to reflect the platform name change from “apps for Office” to “Office Add-ins.” For details about the name change, see “New name for apps for Office and SharePoint: Office and SharePoint Add-ins.

New in Office 2016 for developers 7 

Our partners

We continue to acquire more incredible partners in our Store. As mentioned in a previous blog post: Uber, PayPal, Evernote and Boomerang all have released add-ins that take advantage of these new development features.

New in Office 2016 for developers 8 

PayPal task pane add-in paying a person directly within Outlook.

New in Office 2016 for developers 9 

Boomerang task pane add-in inserting availability into the body of a mail.

New in Office 2016 for developers 10 

Evernote task pane add-in inserting content into the body of a mail.

New in Office 2016 for developers 11 

Uber task pane add-in setting a reminder for an Uber at a particular location and time in the appointment directly from Outlook.

So what are you waiting for? Jump over to and try it out.

—Jeremy Thake, technical product manager for the Office 365 team


Published: 9/28/2015 17:25