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Box Platform Gets New Dev Tools

Among a slew of announcements made by Box at its conference last week were new tools to help developers work with its enterprise content platform.

Box specializes in cloud storage, similar to other offerings such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and so on. It facilitates file sharing, collaboration and enterprise content management. It also offers app development services such as UI components and SDKs to work with the content platform.

The company said more than 80,000 developers are building applications and integrations with the Box Platform, generating more than 7 billion API calls each month.

At its BoxWorks 2016 conference, the company last week announced new tools and technologies to improve its development services.

One new change includes a major overhaul of the beta Box Developer Console, which now sports a new user experience and increased functionality. "New features include a new UI, guided walkthroughs for configuring applications, easy access to support, documentation and notifications," the company said in a statement.

Also new is a Web UI Kit, which the company said comprises "pre-built and customizable user interface elements, derived from the Box Web and mobile applications, that enable developers to modularly build user interfaces in their applications."

The kit will be open sourced, the company said, which will let developers customize it for their own needs. "Available throughout the rest of the year, the new UI Kit includes a file picker, content navigator, file upload, activity feed, open-with and file preview," Box said.

The company also announced a partnership with Google to develop Box integrations with Google Docs and Google Springboard.

Another partnership, with Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), resulted in the Box Platform Incubator.

"The next great enterprise apps will be cloud-based and massively scalable, have user experiences that rival leading consumer applications, and meet the security and compliance requirements of the enterprise," Box said. "To support the development of these apps, the Box Platform Incubator offers free services from Box, and AWS will offer free usage credits that can be applied to select AWS services, along with Box-led marketing opportunities and mentorship from Box and AWS experts. Companies interested in applying for the program will be able to apply beginning on Oct. 1, 2016."

Other news from the conference included support for new content types for the Box Platform, which enhances its preview capability that lets developers embed interactive file viewers in apps. New supported file types include high-definition video, 360-degree images and videos, 3D models and virtual reality (VR) files. Developers can start using those file types in Web apps right now via the company's JavaScript SDK, with mobile app support on tap in the coming months.

Meanwhile, new annotation and watermarking functionality will let users add annotations to embedded file previews and allow developers to include a watermark on files containing sensitive information.

"Annotations, available today in JavaScript and in the coming months for iOS and Android, allow end users to add point comments and highlight text directly on an embedded file preview," the company said. "Watermarking, available via the Box API today, will display the user's e-mail address and access time on the file preview."

While many of the new development-related features target professional developers, the company last month announced webhooks for use by "citizen developers."

"Citizen development is a huge focus for the Box Platform team," the company said at the time.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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