Microsoft Previews Tool for Connecting Apps to Office with Web Services

Microsoft is previewing Web services features that should allow developers to more easily integrate their applications with Office.

At its TechEd show in San Diego, Microsoft unveiled its Information Bridge Framework (IBF), an integrated set of XML- and Web services-based tools designed to expose application data to business users within the context of familiar Office programs.

IBF is positioned as a complement to Web Services Enhancements (WSE) 2.0, which is itself an add-on for Microsoft’s Visual Studio .NET IDE. The software giant says that WSE 2.0 lets developers use Web services protocol specifications to build and consume security-enhanced Web services.

Microsoft provided the first technical beta of IBF and enlisted the support of Business Objects, Hewlett-Packard Co. and other partners to illustrate potential use-cases for the technology.

“It’s an add-on to Microsoft Office, an enabling technology that uses Web services to link relevant information from different sources such as ERP and enterprise reporting into the Office environment,” says Jaylene Crick, senior product marketing manager with Business Objects.

She says that Business Objects is demonstrating a prototype based on IBF that more tightly couples Live Office with Microsoft Office and other application software. “With Microsoft Information Bridge Framework, what we’re providing is a sort of next-generation of Live Office that allows users to not only have live data in their Office documents, but actually to establish links between [Live Office] and Office using Web services,” she says. “For example, if I receive an e-mail that has a customer complaint in it, I work in customer service, when I click on that customer ID, it can launch all of the reports in Crystal Enterprise that are relevant to that particular customer.”

As it evolves, says Crick, IBF should allow Business Objects and other vendors to “close the loop between reporting and business intelligence and Office. I really think it’s going to enable greater collaboration.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.