Presenting Two New EventBoard Mobile Apps for Office

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Leveraging HTML and JavaScript, Microsoft has introduced a new app model for developing with and extending Office 2013, known as Apps for Office. This platform allows developers to create powerful and interactive features to enhance the Office experience. At Falafel Software, we’ve used this new platform to deliver two exciting new apps to our EventBoard Mobile customers. The new apps simplify the process of both building your conference’s mobile application, and analyzing the survey and conference data afterward.

EventBoard Mobile Conference Builder

Download the EventBoard Conference Builder App To help event organizers get their event listed in EventBoard Mobile quickly and easily, we provide an Excel spreadsheet with several sections to be populated with the conference data. This allows all of the content, such as Speakers, Timeslots, Tags, Sessions, etc., to be imported in a single batch instead of manually entering each bit of data using a proprietary platform. Using the Apps for Office model we were able to enhance the Excel template with several new, important features.

Contextual Help

The Task Pane App for Office creates a natural opportunity to present relevant help alongside the EventBoard Mobile Excel template. Each of the sheets has specific requirements, as well as differing sets of fields you can populate. As the user switches from sheet to sheet, the app detects the where in the spreadsheet they are and provides the corresponding “Help” section so users have immediate access to detailed instructions and definitions of each field’s requirements. In addition to offering explanations of the various sheets and fields, we are even able to embed inline help videos for each of the sections.


One of the tougher issues we were met with regularly prior to creating the EventBoard Mobile Conference Builder was correcting simple mistakes in the sheet. Whether they were typographical errors, misunderstood instructions, invalid data or missing required fields, there was no way to tell the user they had done something wrong, resulting in several round-trips of the sheet as items are corrected. With the new validation features of the app, not only are we able to let the user know there is an issue with the content and the specific problem, but can also highlight the offending row, allowing them to make immediate corrections. Informing the user that each of their sheets is valid allows them to feel confident that their hard work won’t be wasted with correcting errors they may not even known they were making, allowing us to efficiently process their event and get them into EventBoard Mobile Mobile faster than ever.

Helpful Tools

Because our Apps for Office are written with JavaScript, we are able to offer a variety of custom tools and interactive features to make it easier to prepare and complete the Excel spreadsheet. Previously, to enter color codes for session tracks, the user needed to know or look up the HEX code for the desired color. With the new Color Picker tool, users can simply click to choose the desired color. Better yet, if the conference has several tracks, the Random Color Generator will automatically assign a unique, web-safe color to each track with a single click. There is also a DateTime picker to populate Timeslots, as well as a helpful Value Lookup tool, which presents a menu for populating certain fields to ensure that they are added correctly, without typos, and are valid selections for the field.  Finally, because Apps for Office embed themselves into the document in which they are installed, we now provide a prepared Excel template with our app already included so that users can get started right away. All of these features combine to create a new, efficient, and user-friendly experience for conference organizers to quickly get their event into the EventBoard Mobile application, resulting in shorter build out time-frames, reduced support, and more successful events.

EventBoard Mobile Reports

Download the EventBoard Reports App On the flip-side of EventBoard Mobile, when a conference is over, event organizers often want to gain insight into the activities of their attendees. This is especially important when users were surveyed after each session to gather feedback. While we already provide a simple Excel report in the EventBoard Mobile admin dashboard, we’ve leveraged the Apps for Office platform to allow users to grab the data when they need it, where they need it. To accomplish this we created the EventBoard Mobile Reports app, which can be used to import conference report data into Excel, Word, and PowerPoint with the click of a button. Once again, because Apps for Office offers the complete web experience, we have a user login screen to processes their credentials server side against their EventBoard Mobile account to then present the list of conferences to which they have access. Users can then select from one of four prepared reports and import them directly into Excel.

Write Once, Run Anywhere

Arguably one of the best features of Apps for Office is that because they are written with HTML and JavaScript, they are supported on any platform and device capable of running such sites, including Windows, Mac, and even via Office online. In fact, the exact same EventBoard Mobile Report app can be installed and used to import data into any supported Office application, including Word and PowerPoint on both Windows and Mac, all without changing a single line of code. Finally, as mentioned before, since the app travels with the document, once the app is installed, opening it in Office online will reveal the application for immediate use in any supported browser, regardless if it is opened on Mac or Windows.  Updating apps is also a snap. Because they are at their core simply websites, and the app manifest already points to their location, we need only deploy the changes to our web server to publish an update. This is especially easy when using Azure Web Sites, since we can deploy your updates directly from Visual Studio with just a few clicks.

Wrapping Up and Learning More

By leveraging the new Apps for Office 2013 development model, we were able to quickly create and deliver two powerful new apps to improve the EventBoard Mobile user experience, as well as reduce support times and increase the efficiency with which we list events for our customers. The apps will run on any platform, with any version of Office 2013, and allow us to deploy new features quickly and easily via the web. If you would like to learn more about Apps for Office, stay tuned to my upcoming series of posts on Apps for Office 2013, where I dig deeper into everything you need to know to get started building your own apps. If you have questions or have something you want to see covered in detail, please let us know in the comments!

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Senior Developer at iD Tech
Josh loves all things Microsoft and Windows, and develops solutions for Web, Desktop and Mobile using the .NET Framework, Azure, UWP and everything else in the Microsoft Stack. His other passion is music, and in his spare time Josh spins and produces electronic music under the name DJ SelArom. His other passion is music, and in his spare time Josh spins and produces electronic music under the name DJ SelArom.