Developing Microsoft Office for iPad (Redmond Meeting)

Our next meeting is on Thursday, June 26 and our speaker will be Olof Hellman, a lead software design engineer from Microsoft.

Olof will talk about some of the big engineering challenges involved in developing Office apps (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel etc) for the iPad platform. The talk will include relevant app-development topics such as user experience design issues pertaining to the Office apps for iPad etc. He'll also talk about other development topics relating to Microsoft's Mac Business Unit.

In addition to the planned topics, Olof will also take questions on all topics relating to the development of Microsoft's Office apps for the iPad. (If you're interested in any specific topics, please feel free to post a comment below. You're also welcome to ask new questions at the meeting without posting comments here). See below for a summary of the talk from Olof.


NOTE: Everyone who attends this meeting will be able to enter a drawing for a free ticket to (a Developer Conference for iPhone, iPad and Mac Developers). (Anyone who attended last month's meeting will get a second entry for the drawing if they attend this month's meeting.)

The final drawing (for the free CocoaConf ticket) will be held at this meeting (i.e. the June 26 meeting)


Microsoft Office for iPad

I’ll cover various topics related to the release of Office for iPad.  A little history of the MacBU unit and an overview of our codebase and processes.  Our target customer and highest value scenarios.  Making trade-offs between the platform experience and the Office Suite experience.  Some of the big engineering challenges in delivering the Office apps on iPad.  And how it is that a longtime Mac developer can feel right at home in the heart of Microsoft.

Olof Hellman

Lead Software Development Engineer



The meeting starts at 7pm and it will be held in the first floor conference room 101 of Thinkspace in downtown Redmond ( )

Thinkspace is a 2-minute walk from the Redmond transit center. So if you’re coming over from downtown Seattle, you can take the bus (ST Express 545) to get here quickly.

Alternately, if you drive, parking is free.

Ram (fwiw, in the 90s, I was an SDE lead at Microsoft working on developing Office :)


After the meeting, a subset of attendees (typically 5-10 people) head to a nearby Irish pub/restaurant (JJ Mahoneys)

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  • Ram

    Thanks everyone for attending the meeting and for comments here. Here is a note on the drawing we held for a free CocoaConf ticket

    The winner was @MartinNash. Here is a list of the runners-up
    2. Mike K
    3. Paul R
    4. Mark T
    5. Paul G
    6. Sudesh S

    Note that Xcoders can get a 15% discount by using the “Seattle-Xcoders”code while registering for CocoaConf Seattle -

    July 24, 2014

  • Kris

    I thought the presentation was excellent. I was able to take a number of really good insights from Olof's talk and I very much appreciate him taking the time to share. My only criticism would be the QA. Many times the presentation was interrupted by questions (myself included to be fair). I think personally keeping QA to the end of the presentation would work better and would also be more respectful to the speaker. Overall however, great meeting.

    June 27, 2014

    • Ram

      Thanks Kris, questions during the presentation are great and in our meetings, I often learn a lot from questions that other people have and from the answers or follow-up discussions that follow. Xcoders are generally fair/polite and I think that was true for all questions yesterday.
      I agree that there may be some value in a more formal lecture-style (one-way) presentation with questions postponed to the end, but our meetings tend to be a bit more informal in this regard (and imo that makes it more interesting :)
      Btw welcome again to Seattle and also to Xcoders.

      1 · June 27, 2014

    • Olof H.

      It's true - usually we don't save questions until the end in Xcoders, but this may have to change if our meetings keep getting bigger!

      1 · June 30, 2014

  • Andreas

    Would be interesting to hear about the design of your data model and implementation. Seems like an interesting challenge the online/offline nature of this app! thx.

    June 26, 2014

    • Olof H.

      Sorry I didn't really talk much about this one. This is indeed a particularly difficult part of the problem, but beyond just pointing out that its a problem, I don't really feel qualified to talk about how it gets solved, as I have only a peripheral involvement with the team that works on that side of the code, and even if I did it might be the kind of thing I shouldn't be talking about in public.

      June 30, 2014

  • Kevin M.

    Good content, but a bit long of a presentation, especially during the summer :)

    June 27, 2014

    • Ram

      Thanks for letting us know, Kevin. I'm glad you liked the content.
      Though the meeting started at 7, a couple of other agenda items (like CocoaConf discussions :) led to the presentation starting a bit later than usual. That and Q/A led to a late ending (many of our other meetings have also had a lot of Q/A, but presentations start earlier). On the plus side, it is summer and so it was still bright outside when the meeting ended yesterday :)

      June 27, 2014

  • Mark T.

    Great overview of building a complex app for the iPad and the challenges it presents.

    1 · June 27, 2014

  • Olof H.

    I'll be speaking about Office for iPad -- sharing some of the technical challenges we faced in making the product, and also talking about some of the trade-offs we faced getting a version 1 product ready, how we think of our position in the market and how Apex, the Apple platform team within the Office org, coexists with the rest of the company.

    If you have questions, ask them ahead of time, and perhaps I'll have good material prepared in response!

    June 20, 2014

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