Tech Industry

Office 97 develops for developers

In pursuit of its goal of turning its Office suite into a development platform, Microsoft will announce a developer edition of Office 97 next week.

In pursuit of the goal to turn its Office suite into a development platform, Microsoft (MSFT) will announce a developer edition of Office 97 next week at its Office 97 Developer Conference in Palm Springs, California.

The edition will be aimed at corporate and third-party developers. With previous versions of Office, developers had to pull tools, technical information, and demos together from two toolkits and various reference sources. The Developer Edition will put it all together in a single box.

Developers will get the full complement of Office 97 applications: Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook, and a desktop information manager.

But the developers' edition, which will be released in January along with the standard versions of Office 97, will focus on tools that allow customization of Access, Microsoft's desktop database. For example, it will include a run-time version of Access so that custom database programs can be distributed to users that don't have Access installed. The Developer Edition will also create a Setup Wizard that helps developers create setup and installation procedures for their custom apps.

Other features of the Developer Edition include:
--Replication Manager, a visual interface for synchronizing or copying information across multiple databases. The manager only supports databases based on Microsoft's "Jet" engine for Office applications.
--integration hooks that support Microsoft and third-party version-control tools to let groups of developers keep track of changes.
--ODBCDirect, a tool that gives developers access to SQL databases from Access or any Office databases.

Microsoft says it will announce pricing for the Office 97 Developers Edition when it announces pricing for other Office 97 versions, some time closer to the actual delivery.