Microsoft to open source Fluid Framework; previews end-user experience

Microsoft's Fluid Framework collaboration and compound document technology is moving forward. The company also is adding new developer features for Teams, along with a new Lists application.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is going to open-source its Fluid Framework technology, which it first introduced a year ago at Build. At Build 2020 this year, officials said they're ready to roll out the first customer-facing experience for the Fluid Framework technology, starting with the Outlook web app and Office.com.

First, a quick refresher: Fluid Framework is infrastructural technology that Microsoft has built to improve coauthoring performance and allow users to create and embed components inside applications and documents that will always remain up-to-date because of this fast collaboration technology.

By open-sourcing Fluid Framework, Microsoft is hoping to encourage developers of all kinds to use it to make their applications able to handle real-time collaboration. The data structures in Fluid Framework perform low-latency synchronization and provide a relay service to connect endpoints. By replacing static data structures with "fluid" data structures, apps can support real-time collaboration, Microsoft officials claim. Microsoft also is hoping the community is interested enough in Fluid Framework to work on it once it's open-sourced.

Microsoft will be making available "soon" a public preview of Fluid Workspaces and Components to Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Education users, first in Outlook for the web and Office.com. The initial public preview includes basic text, tables, lists, agendas, and action items. By embedding these items in messages and documents, customers will see any changes or updates to them updated in real-time. (Users will need to be signed in with their organizational IDs for this to work.)

Microsoft plans to make Fluid Components and Workspaces more powerful and available in more places over time, officials said.

In other Microsoft 365 Build news, Microsoft also announced new Teams tools and integrations during day one of its conference on May 19. Microsoft is going to be making available several customizable templates and industry-specific templates to enable users to set up a crisis-management team, a hospital ward, event-management, etc. Each template will come with pre-defined channels, apps, and guidance. This will be rolling out in the next few months, officials said.

The Power Virtual Agents app for creating and managing chatbots inside Teams will be available "soon" in the Teams app store. Developers "soon" will be able to add custom Power Apps applications by clicking the "Add to Teams" button in Power Apps. Microsoft is adding new capabilities to the "Shifts" app in Teams by making the Microsoft Graph APIs for Shifts generally available and able to be integrated with external workforce-management tools.

Microsoft also unveiled a new M365/O35 app called Microsoft Lists, which allows users to create, share, and track data and information (like issue tracking and status reporting). The Lists app will be available inside Teams, SharePoint, and in mobile app flavors. 

Yes, this means Microsoft is adding yet another planning and to-do type app to its existing line-up of products that provide this type of functionality, which includes OneNote, Planner, To Do, Outlook Tasks, and SharePoint Lists. (The new Lists app seems to have been derived from SharePoint Lists.) It is available to try via the Microsoft 365 app launcher.

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