Beth Massi (he has one of my favourite blogs) has written today an interesting post where he showcases an Office Business Appliocation scenario that he and is team has put together for TechReady 8.
I've written in the past lots of posts about OBAs and the opportunities you have on writing applications on top of the Microsoft Office family, and this sample gives you another interesting idea I think.
The Beth's scenario is this:
We needed a way to easily and securely expose our LOB data -- the Northwind database -- to the enterprise. So we created an entity data model against our SQL Server Northwind database and then exposed it using ADO.NET Data Services . The Northwind sales reps do all of their work in Outlook, communicating with our high-volume customers. So we built an Outlook Add-in that they can use to look up the customer order history from the database and easily work with purchase orders. The Add-in displays a form region with the customer order history in an adjoining area below when they open the email.
The orders are then submitted to a SharePoint document library as Word 2007 documents with XML data specified via content controls. A SharePoint Workflow then shreds this document data (using VB XML literals support and the Open XML SDK) and passes it to the ADO.NET data Service which persists the data in the database. This was written as a SharePoint sequential workflow.
We also built an Excel client for our shipping department to use that displays the orders that are ready to ship which allows them to update the ship date and save it back to through the data service. It also shows the products and quantities ordered in an Action Pane and does some data analysis using a pivot table and pie chart to show the breakdown of shipping cities and freight cost. We also used WPF user controls in the Outlook and Excel clients so that we could match the look-and-feel of Office.
Finally we created a web part for the SharePoint site that displays key performance indicators like oversold products and our top customer sales.
With a strict integration of different Office products (Outlook, Excel, Word, Sharepoint) and .NET, you can have a complete new generation series of application for your business. The key concept is this: Customers works with the tools they use every day, no needs of custom new applications.
Beth has promised a new series of posts about this so... stay tuned!