How to connect with 1.2 billion Microsoft users

Last week at the Connect(); conference in New York, Microsoft publicly unveiled the Microsoft Graph, a unified API that enables developers to tap into Microsoft’s 1.2 billion users around the world.

There is a lot going on in the Microsoft Graph, but we will look closely at the file storage services: OneDrive (OD), OneDrive for Business (ODB), and SharePoint Online (SP).

What is the Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph is a unified API for connecting to Office 365.

Previously, each Office 365 service was silo’d and had its own unique API. This required developers to obtain separate access tokens and call different endpoints for each service they wanted to integrate with.

With the new unified API, features, data, and insights across Office 365 services can all be accessed from a single API.

That’s nice but..

Historically, Microsoft has not been great with APIs. Services often have multiple versions, each with multiple APIs spanning hundreds of pages of documentation.

Our implementations of OD, ODB, and SP pull from several different APIs in order to get comprehensive feature and data coverage. Of course, developers that use Kloudless are shielded from this complexity, since we offer a universal interface for integrating file storage services.

Getting started

If you’re not a Kloudless developer yet, this means that you’ll have to go through another proprietary API, integrate it into your application, and maintain it in the long run. You can read through the documentation and try out the Microsoft Graph at graph.microsoft.com.

If you have an existing integration with Office 365 service, make sure to check for feature parity between the old APIs and the new unified API before overhauling you current implementation.

We noticed several differences. Some features like adding an admin user as a site collection administrator SP are only found in the old SP APIs. Other features like listing all site collections (SP) and personal sites (ODB) are only available in the new Microsoft Graph API.

For use cases that only require basic operations, you’ll be fine switching over to the new API. Otherwise, like us, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself mixing and matching APIs to get everything you need.

If you are using Kloudless, you’re already integrated with the Microsoft Graph! We’re dedicated to bringing you the latest and greatest, so we worked with Microsoft earlier this year to get our hands on a preview of a couple unreleased APIs, including the Office 365 Unified API.

As a result, no extra work is required to transition to the Microsoft Graph, because we’ve taken care of everything under the hood. You will automatically receive all the improvements and new features.

New features supported in Kloudless

You can access new Microsoft features via the respective Kloudless endpoints.

Events and Notifications (ODB, SP) – Real-time notifications for what’s changed in a folder.

Permissions (OD, ODB, SP) – Adding, modifying, and removing permissions on files and folders. (Coming soon)

What we think about the new Graph

We like all the talk coming out of Redmond. Unifying APIs is a mission that we can get behind.

However, a few challenges remain if you’re looking to integrate file storage APIs into your application:

  1. Uniform APIs are a great promise, but execution and timeliness matters. A few years in, OneDrive and OneDrive for Business still have many API differences.
  2. It sounds like a lot of updates are planned. If you plan on integrating directly with the new API, be prepared for several rounds of maintenance work in the near future.
  3. The Microsoft Graph will not unify the other 25+ file storage APIs like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Egnyte, etc.

This is definitely a step in the right direction for Microsoft to endear themselves with developers. It certainly makes our job a bit easier.

Kloudless unifies 25+ file storage services under a universal API. If you’d like to easily integrate the Microsoft services and many others, sign up for a Kloudless account and start developing for free!