The Office 365 API vs. SharePlus for Building Mobile SharePoint Solutions

Mobile Man / Monday, April 20, 2015

An API is a set of protocols with which a developer can interface with a given system or platform. Late last year Microsoft released the long awaited APIs for Office 365, finally giving developers a standard way to customize the popular collaboration platform. See here for a good overview from the MSDN site on the various ways you can now develop for the Office 365 platform.

For example, it is possible to write an HTML5 and JavaScript based website that reads data from Office 365 and displays it to users. Or you can build a Windows App which pulls data from a SharePoint Tasks list stored inside SharePoint Online.

But, if we focus on mobile, should you take that much time to create a mobile app from scratch for SharePoint 2013 users? What if you can easily develop personalized enterprise-wide solutions for both Android and iOS platforms right now? And even make them available for SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and Office 365 users. With SharePlus you can develop enterprise apps using your HTML5 and JavaScript skills, saving time and taking advantage of a huge range of existing, tested features for both iOS and Android mobile platforms.

In this post, we’ll look at five facts that shed some light on the similarities and differences between both platforms.


Microsoft is actively encouraging developers to think of Office 365 as a platform and to integrate its data and services into applications for various platforms. The recently relaunched Office Dev Center is a testament to this. SharePlus is also helping developers of SharePoint and Office 365-based mobility applications go to market faster with Infragistics’ Partner Program.


While Office 365 has a good mobile Web view, accessing over the web isn’t the best approach for everyone. By creating a mobile app, specific for the company's own Office 365 Intranet, users can access a totally bespoke version of the Intranet on the move. Various Microsoft and third party apps exist, but most of them cannot always be easily modified and branded. SharePlus is one of the exceptions with its unique user interface possibilities. Although tailoring the UI to the user’s needs takes time, for large scale deployments and systems, it could pay real dividends.


Both the Office 365 and SharePlus platforms empower you to create custom solutions that access and interact with your customer’s data. The new Office 365 APIs can be used to build solutions across all mobile, web, and desktop environments for SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. SharePlus was designed for mobilizing SharePoint and Office 365, yet it can easily meet any needs for a multi-purpose solution that ensures a consistent user experience across all mobile environments. Building a custom mobile SharePoint solution is much faster with SharePlus as a basis, because you have all necessary SharePoint functionalities already working – data access, on-the-go collaboration, built-in security features, data synchronization and offline access, an easy-to-use JavaScript API, and ReportPlus BI dashboards. In addition, SharePlus supports SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and Office 365.


Office 365 has one obvious drawback. Like most cloud software, it requires a working Internet connection to display content. So, users on the move, far from a network connection, or in any other way offline, have limited options to stay productive. A solution to this problem would be to build an app that synchronizes certain data while connected, and provides an offline mode while disconnected. SharePlus already has you covered in terms of offline Office 365 capabilities on mobile devices.


When considering to build a mobile SharePoint solution, it’s not about choosing one or the other mobile platform. Employees are increasingly using their personal mobile devices for company goals on the go, which has brought up the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend to new heights. SharePlus is specialized in mobile environments (iOS and Android) while the Office 365 API targets web-based environments primarily. You could potentially create a Chrome extension to enrich Office 365 content, using the API - in this way people browsing the desktop web could also access company or employee specific data from Office 365. Based on user account data, SharePlus provides employees with a seamless SharePoint experience across devices. For example, you can start working on a document on your desktop computer, then continue editing it on your iPad while offline on the road, and in the end sync it with your company SharePoint whenever you have connectivity again. You could also share the file and collaborate on it with a colleague, who is using an Android device – the user experience when handling the document remains the same across platforms.


True mobile enablement of employees is not simply about giving them mobile access to enterprise portals, but about providing them with an optimized mobile experience on mobile devices. The vastness of the SharePoint platform calls for a mobile-first approach as opposed to building web-based mobile applications. Using the SharePlus platform, you can easily create native mobile SharePoint solutions with much less effort than if you built everything from scratch. The new Office 365 APIs could also be used in conjunction with SharePlus APIs in order to cover both native and mobile web environments. As we touched on earlier, Microsoft is putting a lot of effort in documentation and guidelines to help the developer community. So be sure to check out the Office Dev Center and our mobile SharePoint and Business Intelligence solution, and get started!