Microsoft will open Loop to third-party developers
Microsoft will allow third-party developers to create live text snippets, spreadsheets and forms in Teams and Outlook so users can do more without clicking away from the software. The company calls content blocks loop components.
Developers would use tools that support the JSON programming language to embed content blocks from their apps into Teams chat messages and Outlook emails. People at both ends of the communication could modify the content or watch the changes in real time.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella showcased the latest collaboration capabilities during his keynote at the company’s Build developer conference this week. A Microsoft employee changed the due date of a task listed in a form in Zoho’s project management application, Projects. The change appeared immediately on content blocks in Outlook and Teams.
Loop blocks automatically change appearance to match the application, Microsoft said. For example, a block displayed in Teams would conform to its design.
Microsoft plans to release a developer preview of Loop in June. The company hasn’t announced a general availability date.
Microsoft appears to be using Loop’s content blocks to consolidate searchable collaborative content across Outlook, Teams and third-party products, said Metrigy analyst Irwin Lazar. “The loop can be that unifying layer that pulls workflows or activities toward a common place.”
Loop could also boost worker productivity, said Tom Arbuthnot, founder of training company Teams Empowering.Cloud.
“I’m a big Notion user,” he said. “If some of that real-time collaboration power can be brought together between Outlook users and Teams users…I think it will add a lot of value.”
Third-party content integration is only part of Microsoft’s Loop plans. The company launched the product in November, adding elements of Loop to Teams last year and Outlook this month. This year, Microsoft plans to release a full Loop app that can create documents from individual content blocks and workspaces that link documents with files from other apps.
Other collaboration companies have technology like Loop. Google’s Smart Canvas uses interactive templates to quickly create lists, spreadsheets, and forms that teams can co-edit in Google Docs. Digital whiteboards such as Mural and Miro also function as persistent spaces where workers can pull different types of content, such as documents and spreadsheets, and work on them together. Project management software like Asana, Notion, and Wrike also centralize and sync information.
Mike Gleason is a journalist specializing in unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the Massachusetts MetroWest region for the Milford Daily News, Walpole time, Sharon’s lawyer and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as local editor of Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.