Screenshot.270431.100000 copyThe days of creating PowerPoint presentations are soon to be over, and the days of “mocking” up an app are hopefully soon to follow, now that Microsoft has released a beta version of Sienna. It’s only a beta preview, but Sienna already  allows anyone to create a simple Windows app. Anyone.

The app mock up is perfect for making quick apps with personalized buttons, colors, and type on a virtual canvas with data from Excel, Azure, REST, RSS, or SharePoint. Think of it as a powerful Powerpoint creator for your apps – a virtual hyperlinked, interactive presentation with complex data for others to access.

Siena apps are as easy as editing a document. You place some visuals on a canvas. You hook them up to your data. You customize how your app looks and works. Then, if you need special logic and intelligence, you write some Excel-like expressions. You can use your app immediately, or share it with colleagues or the world.

With Siena, you can conceptualize, validate and build your app ideas almost as fast as you can come up with them. And if your needs change tomorrow, updating your app is no problem. Open it. Change it. Share it again, and you’re off to do business.

Siena works well with corporate and web data and media content: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and the gamut of RESTful services.

Siena apps are just HTML5 and JavaScript and are deployed and managed like any other Windows 8.x app. In fact, developers can open them up, see what’s there and, if needed, extend them in their favorite programming tools.

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Sienna may not the death of PowerPoint, but it might as well be. PowerPoint is clunky and cumbersome. It’s not nearly as intuitive and the hyperlinks and videos never work just right… in fact, it’s just a raw, unimaginative version of an app that requires a presenter. Without a person to hit “next slide,” a web page it’s just this: a catalog of information that is begging to be interactive. While Sienna can be powerful for sharing information with smart devices or a web browser, it’s no way to be innovative, but that’s its true strength.

Today, we may be exploring apps that can do many complicated things, but the true value of apps will be revealed once it’s boiled down to its everyday use; it’s ability to be created, manipulated, and distributed by anyone, at anytime. Sienna may be how apps gets its everyday use, and considering the prolific nature of Microsoft products, the distribution of apps just got a boost.