Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in #Office365Dev | 6 comments

Alright, you’ve finished your Office (or Outlook) add-in – now how do you get it into the hands of the world? Your channel for distributing your solutions to the Office applications is called the Office Store! If you haven’t seen it, pay a visit here: https://store.office.com/

The Office Store is your way of connecting with millions of users and get exposure. It takes care of trial periods, payments, metric and more. With that, we let you focus on building the best solution that you can – this is where you should spend your time and energy.

It’s not just available on the web, the Office Store is integrated into the Office applications – increasing the discoverability of different Office add-ins.

Register in the Seller Dashboard

Your first step is to get to the Seller Dashboard – which is kind of the backdoor for the Office Store and Azure Marketplace. Before you can get in, you’ll need to set up your Microsoft developer account and sign up as an Office developer. Don’t worry, it’s smooth and easy, head to the Seller Dashboard: https://sellerdashboard.microsoft.com/

Fill out the details and configure your marketing profile – this is the information that is displayed to users in the Office Store. Because this is facing customers of the Office Store, your marketing profile needs to be approved (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/jj220034.aspx).

For a smooth approval process, make sure that the display name is unique, that you own the website you might be linking to and focus on describing your company or expertise.

Also, if you want to offer Office add-ins for purchase, add payout and tax information to your profile. This information must also be validated, so be sure to do this as soon as possible.

Add your Office add-in

Once your Seller Dashboard profile is configured, you can go ahead and add your Office add-in. Simply click the “add a new app” button in the “manage” tab.

addanewapp

Next up you must choose the listing type of your add-in. If you’re developing for Outlook, pick “Outlook Add-in” to make your Office add-in listed as an add-in for Outlook in Office 365 and Outlook.com. For other Office add-ins, pick “Office Add-in”.

Once you’ve picked your listing type, you will not be able to change it.

listingtype

In the general info section, start filling out the information needed to describe your Office add-in. This information will be displayed in the Office Store when a user inspects your solution.

Your app title should not contain the word “app” or “add-in”. Also, be sure that the version matches the version defined in your Office add-in XML manifest file. If these errors are found in the Office add-in, it will not be approved for the Office Store and it will be sent back to you for adjustments.

Pick at least one category that your Office add-in fits within. Users will browse the Office Store and filter solutions with the use of categories, so choose something relevant for yours!

generalinfo

Upload a logo for your Office add-in in a common image format at 96 x 96 pixels. As for your app package, this is your Office add-in XML manifest file. Make sure that your manifest file is pointing to a globally available source location for your Office add-in. In addition, if your solution requires any credentials or instructions to get started – be sure to provide this in the testing notes. The validation team needs to be able to go through your solution and make sure that it’s working properly before approving it for the Office Store.

If you want to make your Office add-in available in the Office add-in Catalog on the iPad – make sure to check the box below the testing notes. Make sure to test and debug your Office add-in on an iPad before checking this box.

Learn more about debugging Office add-ins on iPad and Mac at: https://msdn.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/office/mt459579.aspx

ipadcatalog

In the “support documents” section, you must provide a support document link and a privacy document link. The support document link should point to a place where customers can get support for your Office add-in. The privacy document link should state how you treat any data that is being used within your Office add-in.

Move to the “Details” page by clicking the “Next” button. On this page you will define more customer facing information for your Office add-in. They are grouped per language, so pick at least one language and input the localized details.

Upload at least one screenshot (common image format, 512 x 384 pixels) – remember to keep any text areas in the screenshot localized as well.

descript

If you want to block the ability for certain countries or regions for purchasing your Office add-in, you can do so on the next page (block access). The last part is the pricing page – this is where you will define how your solution will be monetized in the Office Store (if it will be).

As for pricing, you want to be a bit delicate here. If you choose a subscription based pricing model, your users will pay for your Office add-ins on a monthly basis (where they have to cancel manually). The important part is that you cannot move from a subscription to a one-time purchase or a free offer once your Office add-in is published.

The threshold part can be disregarded as it does not apply for Office add-ins.

If you want to offer a trial period, you can do so by choosing a duration (15/30/60 days) or unlimited. If you want to offer an unlimited trial, you can check for licenses in your Office add-in to limit functionality: https://msdn.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/office/jj164035.aspx

pricing

Once you’re happy with the Office add-in submission, you can submit it right away! Unless you want to save the submission for further review, you can save it as a draft.

submit

Your Office add-in will be reviewed by the validation team according to a set of policies and guidelines. I would recommend you to go through them before submitting your solutions. They can be viewed here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/jj220035.aspx 

Wrap up

Once your Office add-in has been published, it will be available in the Office Store for users to download and install. If you want to make any updates, you can edit your submission just like you did when creating it. It will have to pass through the validation process again before the update is deployed to the Office Store.

Here is a couple of resources for creating effective Office add-ins, much of it boils down into creating beautiful and meaningful design:
http://simonjaeger.com/designing-great-office-add-ins-looks-matter/
https://msdn.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/office/jj635874.aspx

Remember to view the the metrics in Seller Dashboard to gain useful insights into how your published Office add-in is doing: https://msdn.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/office/dn270534.aspx

-Simon Jaeger