Office Online integrations revisited

When I first started blogging about three years ago, I started to write a blog post series about using Office Web Apps to view and edit files stored in your custom applications. However back then it was way too tedious to allow your users to edit MS Word documents, so I silently cursed Microsoft and finally gave up.

As you may already have noticed, my blog post series about Office Web Apps 2013 Integration has been terminated. The idea about sending SOAP-messages inside a RESTful API is just plain wrong and I got tired of it.

The termination notice of my original blog post series

The main culprit was a protocol called MS-FSSHTTP also known as “Cobalt”. Cobalt makes it possible for multiple people to edit the same document at the same time by sending only fragments of the whole document to the server hosting the actual document.

Unfortunately Cobalt was the ONLY allowed protocol to save MS Word -files and for simple document authoring purposes it was way too complicated to implement. For example MS Excel files were saved using the much simpler MS WOPI-protocol.

But things seem to have changed. Back in 2013 information and especially examples regarding the protocols in question were somewhat scarce. And now Microsoft is inviting people to integrate their own applications to Office Online and has set up very informative integration instructions which contain for example a sample implementation and even a test suite which you can utilize when implementing your own integration to Office Online.

And they even added the following notice almost to the beginning of their instructions! It seems that I wasn’t the only one who got frustrated with MS-FSSHTTP.

you don’t have to implement the [MS-FSSHTTP]: File Synchronization via SOAP over HTTP Protocol (Cobalt).

Since the documentation and examples provided by Microsoft are so good, there’s really no point in resurrecting my earlier blog post series. But when I have more time (which I never seem to have), I will definitely take a look at their sample application in more detail and see how it compares to my earlier implementation attempt.

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