This blog will help you learn all there is to know about Microsoft Teams App Templates. First, we will get to know what apps in MS Teams really are. Then, I will give an overview of Microsoft Teams App Templates and some of the key benefits of using app templates. I will also highlight some notable app templates available in GitHub.
What are Teams Apps?
Teams applications allow people to express themselves and work better together. Teams apps provide a mechanism to implement custom requirements and are enablers to extend what teams can do for you to drive the productivity of your users. Apps can either be tabs, messaging extensions, bots or webhooks, or a combination of these.
How do you add apps to teams?
Get Apps into Teams :
Ready to use apps – Add to teams from the marketplace
Pro Code apps - Developed from scratch
Low Code / No Code apps - Built using Power Platform
Teams App Templates
Apps can be added to teams via the Teams Store – These are ready to use apps like Forms, Excel, OneNote, and other 600+ apps that are currently available. Basically, you just add these apps to Teams and start using them.
Then we have the custom apps that can be developed to suit unique business requirements. These custom apps can be pro code apps that are developed from scratch and then go through the packaging and deployment cycle to get them into Teams.
The other alternative to develop apps rapidly is to use low code / no-code apps which can be built say using the power platform.
Another approach to get some really cool apps is to use App templates that only have to go through the deployment cycle.
Trade-Off – Customization vs Time to market
There is a trade-off based on the method you choose to surface your apps in Teams. The trade-off is between the ability to customize the apps vs the time taken to get the apps to your end-users.
Ready to use apps that are installed from the Teams store are immediately deployed and added, but can’t be customized.
Low code apps developed using the power platform can be customized but will take longer than app templates to be shipped to customers or end-users because you still need to develop them.
App templates on the other hand only require deployment and can be customized or built on top of what is already existing.
The last one is apps that are developed from scratch, these will require a lot of time before end users can get their hands on them. However, they give the maximum flexibility in terms of customization.
What are App Templates for MS Teams?
App Templates are open source apps for Microsoft Teams. These apps are generally Line of Business apps that are available on GitHub. App templates solve common collaboration challenges and some real-world problems which may be industry-specific or are prevalent across different types of industries. . They generally contain tabs, bots, messaging extensions, web apps, or they can be a combination of all of these.
One important thing to note is that while the apps are fully open source and available for free, you will be responsible for paying any subscription costs that are associated with the different components of the app like Azure, licensing for power apps etc.
What are the Key Benefits?
Let’s look at some of the key benefits of using app templates, which will also help further our understanding of app templates.
App Templates are production-ready apps; They follow all the best practices that are to be implemented while developing an app, be it around security considerations, performance, code quality, or telemetry. They have been developed keeping all the core aspects of app development in mind.
They provide a plug and play experience. You don’t need to write a line of code. Just deploy the app and start using it. They come with all the scripts and packages required for deployment. In some cases, the deployment is also a single click.
Some app templates do have some complex deployment steps, however, to facilitate this, each app template has a comprehensive deployment guide with step by step instruction about the process of deployment. Just follow the deployment guide and the app should be up and running in Teams.
There are chances that app deployment fails due to some error. For this, app templates also have some troubleshooting tips that list some commonly encountered issues that you might face during deployment. If you are still unable to resolve the errors, you can raise an issue on GitHub.
All app templates also contain documentation that provides an overview of the app, the detailed solution architecture, any data stores the app uses, deployment guide, telemetry, and troubleshooting tips.
One of the important benefits of app templates is that they are customizable. The source code or app packages are all available on GitHub for you to clone and modify to suit your requirements. You can enhance these apps with your custom branding or include additional functionality.
Since the time to market is relatively faster for app templates – You can Run Pilots for your app ideas with small groups of users, get feedback, and test if the idea picks up.
App templates also provide a great learning experience for developers – They can serve as reference apps for developers. App templates follow all the best practices and provide scenarios for Integrations with various other apps and services.
Notable App Templates
Okay, so here I have cherry-picked a few app templates present :
Icebreaker – This app is a bot that Pairs two random team members for a meetup each week and help build a tightly knit team
Attendance – is a Power Apps app to track attendance particularly in a learning or training setup. Users can also view a summarized report for entire group or individual
Celebrations – This app helps team members celebrate each others' birthdays, anniversaries, and other recurring events by sending messages in all the selected teams on their special day
Quick Responses - Using the Quick Responses app in Microsoft Teams, users can build their library of quick responses and use the Messaging Extension to search and insert the quick response in compose box saving time and effort. This is particularly useful in fields such as technical support, quick responses to frequently asked questions is an effective solution for both the customer and technical professionals.
Company Communicator - Send messages intended for multiple teams or large number of employees over chat allowing organization to reach employees. This can be used in scenarios such as employee onboarding, learning and development or organization-wide broadcasts.
FAQ Plus is a conversational bot that responds to a question from a predefined knowledge base and when it is not able to find an answer it engages a human to respond to that question.
Request a Team is a Power Apps application that users can use to request to new Teams team using a wizard-based approach. It also includes the ability to send these requests through an approval cycle before the team is created.
Incentives is a Power Apps app that is designed to incentivize participation of team members in unit or org level activities. For each activity completed users are assigned points and can be rewarded for completing a set of activities.
Microsoft Teams App Templates provide numerous benefits and aid in getting apps quickly to your users. No development required. Just deploy the app template and start using it.
I will also talk in detail about two app templates - E-Prescriptions and Custom Stickers in other posts that will be coming soon.
You can contact us if you would like to discuss more about it and have one customized and deployed to your tenant.