New Excel Add-in for Azure ML Just Released

One of the most interesting features of Azure Machine Learning is the ability to publish your pipelines to a production quality web service.  If you have developed a world class predictive algorithm you can very easily publish it to an endpoint which is now available to your users.  Your users can then provide data to be analyzed and Azure ML will output back a predicted value.

For example, imagine you have developed a pricing algorithm that predicts the optimal price for your product based on some features of your customer such as age, income, previous purchase history, location, etc.  You could create an Azure ML based pipeline that based on a training data set of your previous purchase history would find the best predictors of optimal price and allow you to then have the algorithm predict the price.  Once trained and optimized, your algorithm’s job is to provide you a predicted optimal price based on some input criteria values.

Microsoft has now created a really easy way to provide input through Excel through the new Azure ML Add-In.  Using the Add-In, you can now select cells in Excel and ship them to your Azure ML web service for processing. 

The add-in is available in the Office Store here.

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New Office UI Fabric Available for Designing Add-Ins for Office

Microsoft has an updated model for building apps (now called “Add-ins”) for SharePoint and Office.  These add-ins allow you to build extensions to these products and embed functionality into them through web based applications.  Add-ins can be found in the Office 365 App Store in Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc. and in SharePoint as well.

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Microsoft has now released a new design framework for ensuring your add-ins conform to the Office 365 user interface styles.  The framework is available on GitHub.

It is very straight forward to integrate Office UI Fabric into a web application. Simply add some JavaScript into your web application and reference the CSS file from the CDN in your HTML file. The following starter template represents the minimum recommended HTML structure for an add-in that uses Office UI Fabric.

Introducing Office UI Fabric 2

The framework is designed to work across Office Clients where Office Add-ins are supported including Windows desktop, web browser, Mac desktop and iOS on iPad.  The framework also provides out of the box controls that you can use within your add-ins such as people picker, persona card, file picker, etc.

There are also user interface design guidelines available here for styling your add-ins.

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