Microsoft first unveiled its Fluid Framework earlier this year as the future of web collaboration and shared or interactive services. The company is now launching a preview of this work today and offering some more information about exactly what Fluid Framework is. Fluid will power the future of collaborative experiences for Office on the web, but it’s also designed to be far much more, thanks to a new componentized document model.
“We do believe we have to do really core technological innovation in key areas,” explains Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365, in an interview with The Verge. “Fluid is a way for us to innovate in collaboration, but also in the future of a document in content creation.” This new document model allows authors to tear apart content and use it across apps and flexible documents.
“It takes the concept of what used to be a document and blows it up and replaces it with a big cloud address in the sky,” reveals Spataro. “It allows you, at that cloud address, to place different content components so everything from written word to tables, to visualizations like graphs all together in one place.” Fluid will then allow you to access all of this content in real time, so it’s fully collaborative and shareable with others.
For Microsoft’s own services Fluid will start showing up in chat in Teams, or mails in Outlook, portals in SharePoint, notes in OneNote, and a variety of documents in Office. Microsoft has previously demonstrated live translation in Word for every participant in a document and the ability to share real-time tables directly within a Microsoft Teams chat interface.
“The document has been the primary frame about how people think about content creation... Fluid just takes a step back and says let’s not just have a document that’s dominated by any one type of content or another,” says Spataro. “Let’s not make it restricted to be Excel for numbers, or Word is for words, and PowerPoint is for visualizations, instead let’s give you the freedom to say ‘what is there was no more document’ and instead this is a canvas and the canvas is smart.”
One key part of Fluid is that AI-based services will also be able to plug into it, so you could have things like Cortana working alongside a document and helpfully bringing in information or images you’re writing about. Developers will get an early preview of this Fluid Framework to build apps and services that utilize it, and Microsoft is also opening up a public preview of Fluid to show off the end user experience.
It will really be down to developers to show off what is possible with Microsoft’s Fluid Framework, but the company is confident it has “industry leading speed and scale” for this new technology to really reshape the web. The preview begins today at Microsoft’s Ignite conference, and we’re bound to see much more by the time the company’s Build developer conference kicks off next May.