Office Business Applications (OBAs) are a bit of a mystery to some; developers often find it difficult to see Office as a true development platform. Nevertheless, Office has evolved quite a bit in the past few years into a strong platform that offers a number of rich technologies. Combine this with the ability to leverage the Microsoft “stack,” and you have a powerful ability to use technologies like Visual Studio and SharePoint to manage processes and integrate many different types of data with the Office system to build OBAs.
For those that are willing, the journey in this book will be about developing OBAs. In fact, we’ll take you through one specific OBA, a sales forecast OBA, that brings together many different parts of the Office system into a composite solution that manages process and data while at the same time uses the core infrastructure of Office and .NET as the development platform. This will likely mean taking familiar applications, like Excel, Visual Studio, or SharePoint, and combining them in ways that you may not have explored before. Although the goal of this book is to take you through a real-world application of an OBA, the more significant goal is to plant the seed for developing your own OBA and thinking through your own design.