Box's developer platform revamped with new content types, UI tools

The features are aimed at getting more developers to lean on Box to power their apps

jeetupatel boxworks 2016

Box Chief Strategy Officer Jeetu Patel speaks at the BoxWorks conference in San Francisco, California on January 8, 2016.

Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

While Box is probably best known for its user-facing storage and content services, the company is also operating a separate platform for developers, and it received a handful of updates Thursday.

The platform, which lets developers integrate Box's tools for managing content into the apps they're building, now supports new content types, annotations, and watermarking. In addition, the company launched a new set of tools for building web user interfaces and a revamped developer console.

Continuing to upgrade the platform may make it more appealing to developers, at a time when Box is fighting to be one of the services that developers take to power their applications. The Box Platform gives developers the ability to build Box's file storage and content services capabilities into an application, without having to build all of that themselves.

There are 80,000 developers working on the Box Platform, up from 75,000 in May, according to Box Chief Strategy Officer Jeetu Patel. It's not clear how many organizations those developers work for.

Developers building web apps using Box's JavaScript SDK will now be able to support HD video, 3D models, VR files, 360-degree images, and 360-degree videos. Those capabilities, built on preview functionality for Box's user-facing product announced Wednesday, will also be accessible to mobile apps in the coming months.

The JavaScript SDK will also support users adding annotations to a file and the automatic additions of watermarks to secure files. Those watermarks will appear in the file preview view, and overlay a user's name and email address over content. The feature is aimed at helping developers keep confidential information under wraps, by making it easy to tell who shared a file.

When building applications that take advantage of those new capabilities, developers will also get access to a set of user interface kits that make it easier for them to integrate slickly designed elements into their web apps. The first UI Kit element that will be available is a content preview tool to make it easy for people to view files inside a web app without having to download them.

Box plans to make that tool generally available next month. Following that, it will also launch new content picker, content navigator, file upload, and activity feed UI elements in the coming months. All of those tools will also be coming to mobile apps later, and Box will open source elements of them in the future.

The company also redesigned the platform developer console to include a new user interface, guided walkthroughs for configuring applications on the platform, and easy access to platform support. The console also provides analytics for how people are using the app.

To foster the next generation of Box Platform users, the storage company is teaming up with Amazon Web Services to launch a startup incubator program, which will support nascent companies with free credits for both cloud platforms.

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