Microsoft's Fluid Framework is now open source, comes to Office 365

Frederic Lardinois

Fluid Framework was one of the sleeper hits of Microsoft's 2019 Build developer conference. The idea behind the Fluid Framework is to provide developers with a new platform for building low-latency collaborative experiences around documents -- and Microsoft itself is using it to do just that by rethinking some of the workflows in its own Office applications.

Now, for the first time, it is building Fluid Framework into a couple of key productivity apps, starting with Outlook and Office.com. In addition, Microsoft is also open-sourcing the Fluid Framework and making the code available on GitHub within the next few weeks.

"Discovering the full potential of the Fluid Framework can only be accomplished through creating a diverse, open, and vibrant developer community," explains Microsoft's Jared Spataro in today's announcement. "For this reason, Microsoft will be making the Fluid Framework open source, allowing developers and creators to use key infrastructure from Fluid Framework in their own applications."

Using JavaScript APIs, developers will be able to use Fluid Framework to build new collaborative experiences and while Microsoft isn't emphasizing this in today's announcement, its earlier materials around Fluid also emphasized that developers will be able to build intelligent agents that will work side-by-side with users as they create their documents.

Spataro notes that the company is open-sourcing the framework to invite developers to work alongside Microsoft on building the framework. Though Microsoft is obviously only releasing the code as open source now that it has most of the core components in place, it's still nice to see the company bring this to the community, especially given that the code now seems to be ready for deployment in Microsoft's own Office 365 tools.

Talking about those tools, Fluid Framework will soon make its debut in Outlook for the web, where it will allow users to work with tables, charts and task lists in the form of so-called Fluid Components that are updated automatically as they are editing elsewhere and hence automatically stay up to date.

In Office.com, Microsoft is introducing Fluid Framework workspaces for collaborative editing. They will include support for @mentions and feature activity feeds for each document.