Sergey Nivens - Fotolia

Problem solve Get help with specific problems with your technologies, process and projects.

Nuvious uses Microsoft Graph API to open up Office 365 to mobile apps

Listen to this podcast

Getting mobile device apps to work seamlessly with Office 365 content is now easier as Nuvious leverages the Graph API to build conduits with NativeScript and TypeScript.

As businesses shift toward operating in the cloud, it's natural that they would want to access cloud-based content on Microsoft's popular Office 365 software as a service product from their own mobile applications. In this podcast, Alexander Ziskind, SharePoint architect and full stack JavaScript/.NET engineer at cloud consulting firm Nuvious, discusses using Microsoft's TypeScript with open source NativeScript to achieve that goal.

Microsoft Graph API opens up Office 365, allowing the application to share content with modern mobile platforms. Ziskind is building a TypeScript layer that exposes parts of the API to native mobile applications, written in NativeScript in this case.

"NativeScript is a mobile development platform," Ziskind says. "You're using TypeScript as the language which gets compiled to JavaScript."

A developer can create native user interfaces in XML and writes the underlying business logic in JavaScript. "The point of using NativeScript is to allow you to write for multiple platforms at the same time with the same code base."

SharePoint Services is not going to disappear anytime soon, but the Microsoft Graph API and its related environment represent new layers of capability, Ziskind says. "The Office 365 Graph API is another layer that exposes, as a single API, all the different services that live in Office 365."

The point of using NativeScript is to allow you to write for multiple platforms at the same time with the same code base.
Alexander ZiskindNuvious

Microsoft itself describes the Graph environment as "the easiest way to call Microsoft APIs … from a single endpoint." The Graph website identifies users, groups, mail, calendars, contacts, files, tasks, people and notes as content examples. Ziskind noted that files stored on Microsoft's OneDrive cloud-based storage service can also be accessed.

Security is paramount

With access to the Microsoft Graph API comes the need for security; a need that is fully addressed, according to Ziskind. "Every time you talk to the API, you need to authenticate. Microsoft's Azure AD (Active Directory) in the cloud is where you register your applications so you can get access tokens to authenticate your users through OAuth 2.0."

Alexander ZiskindAlexander Ziskind

OAuth tokens expire, which helps to ensure security, but they also demand proper handling by developers writing to the Microsoft Graph API.

"You get your token initially when you sign in. You use that token with every request to the API, but the access token is short-lived," Ziskind says. "You also get a refresh token, which you can use to call to the API and refresh the access token. You can keep doing this." Eventually, even the refresh token expires, at which point the application asks the user to re-authenticate.

NativeScript at the core

The reason that Progress Software's Telerik unit developed the open source NativeScript language was to provide developers with a way of generating native application code for multiple operating platforms, such as iOS and Android, from a single code base. NativeScript compiles to standard JavaScript, which played a key role in Ziskind's design. "You have a UI layer and you're writing JavaScript on the back end."

Based in Washington, D.C., Nuvious provides SharePoint and Microsoft stack consulting services. With the explosion in cloud-based mobile computing, the firm has expanded its horizons to provide mobile application development services for its clients, as well. By using its code to link Office 365 with mobile devices in the open source realm, the firm believes it is well-positioned to expand its portfolio of Office 365 consulting services. "This is an added bonus to our customers and to anyone who wants to use Office 365 services."

In the remainder of the podcast, Ziskind expresses his views on the rapidly expanding API universe, the ability for businesses to communicate with each other via open REST API capabilities, along with the need for better management, and his view of how Microsoft is remaking itself as computing continues its unstoppable march to the cloud.

 [email protected] or follow @JshoreTT on Twitter.

Next Steps

Understand the relationship of Microsoft TypeScript and Google Angular 2

Apps for Office 365 can change your business

Which to choose: Google Apps for Work or Office 365