Microsoft Project Siena (Beta) is a tool that allows a business user (i.e. non-developer) to quickly building rich business applications for Windows 8. You can learn all about the tool on the Microsoft Project Siena web site and by watching a set of tutorials on the Microsoft Project Siena (Beta) Channel 9 Blog.

Having recently left Salesforce to join Microsoft, I was curious about how to build a Project Siena app that integrated into Salesforce. Project Siena uses the Web Application Description Language, or WADL, to connect to 3rd party SaaS services. WADL is an open web standard that is for REST what WSDL is for SOAP, meaning it describes the service resources and relationships.

The release of the WADL Generator for Project Siena (Alpha) makes the generation of the WADL file extremely easy.

Here’s a video that shows how a developer can define the relationship with Salesforce and create a WADL file that a business user can use within a Project Siena application.

(Watch in full screen for the best experience.)

There are a few reasons I think this is pretty compelling:

  • I like the separations of concerns. The developer can setup the integration with Salesforce (or any REST API) and define functions used by a business user.

  • WADL is an open web standard used by many companies, not just Microsoft.

  • Once in Project Siena, you don’t have to worry about setting up authentication or configuring authorization to the 3rd party SaaS provider. It’s already been done and the settings exist in the WADL file.

  • The business user has a very rich and interact experience when building the application. As the demo shows, even interacting with a REST API, and seeing the results, is possible at design time.

  • All the business user really has to care about are controls & functions. (And perhaps a little bit of “Excel-like” coding.)

I think this is only the tip of the iceburg. Take a look at the other Project Siena tutorials to get more ideas about how you can use Project Siena to build applications.

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