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Project Siena, a New No-Code Solution for Building Apps for Office 365 and SharePoint 2013

Anyone paying a recent visit to the Business and Productivity homepage of Microsoft’s MSDN content site will notice a mention of Project Siena, a mobile app builder for enterprise class organizations. This development tool can be downloaded as an app to any computer running Windows 8.0 or 8.1. Best of all, it appears to be a no-code solution.

Back on December 19, 2013, this project appears to have received its first public exposure via post to Technet authored by a Corporate Vice President and Microsoft, S. Somagar. The blog post, titled Project Siena: Enabling Business Users to Create Mobile Apps for the Enterprise describes a no-code development tool designed to help Office power users (Somagar mentions PowerPoint and Excel) build media rich apps specifically designed for touch screens and mobile devices. The content provides readers with the assurance Apps built with Project Siena will run fine on Windows Phone 8.0.

Project Siena is reported to also work fine with SharePoint Lists (presumably for SharePoint Online, Office 365, and, perhaps, SharePoint 2013 on premises). The intelligence powering these solutions is built on “Excel expressions” (meaning cell level formulae) rather than the workflow logic of Visio and SharePoint Designer. The promotional information is designed to appeal to enterprise IT organizations with specific pointers to the comparative harmlessness of the HTML and JavaScript code at the foundation of Project Siena.

Is Project Siena a harbinger of a renewed interest, on Microsoft’s part, to empower Gartner’s Citizen Developers with more methods to produce more customization? It is likely to early to tell, but one would think so.

SharePoint-Videos has a deep commitment to supporting the efforts of SharePoint power users (and these same Citizen Developers) to use no-code tools to build applications capable of supporting highly customized requirements for Line of Business (LoB) units within enterprise business and comparably sized organizations in the public and not-for-profit sectors. So we will be sure to follow Project Siena as it receives greater attention from the SharePoint community of users.

Ira Michael Blonder

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