Microsoft’s Ignite 2020 partner conference is underway, and of course it’s an all-virtual event this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. One of the most interesting debuts on day one was “Project Nucleus,” which Microsoft bills as a new intelligent sync service.

Through this feature, Microsoft Lists will get an offline mode. If you’re unfamiliar with Lists, it is a new collaboration service released in May. It uses a grid-based user interface comprised or rows and columns similar to spreadsheet applications like Excel. It aims to allow organization to collaborate and manage tasks. Sure, Microsoft To-Do already does that, but Lists Microsoft is tying the service to OneDrive and SharePoint to promote flexibility across a business.

With Project Nucleus, offline mode will be available in Lists. However, this tool is much more than a handy addition to Microsoft Lists. In fact, Microsoft has plans to bring the underpinning of Nucleus to many more products, making syncing between web apps and cloud more efficient.

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Microsoft CVP Jeff Teper explains in a blog post how Nucleus will evolve:

“Project Nucleus will power the next generation of our web apps and portals. It will use intelligent sync to a database to keep a cache on the client that our web apps use to deliver a leapfrog in performance. Project Nucleus will allow you to accomplish common tasks, like column sorting and grouping, at blazing fast speeds on lists of any size regardless of your Internet connection speed. All changes are synched with the local cache so Project Nucleus will enable you to work even when offline! All changes made are uploaded when you reconnect to Internet.”

Development

Microsoft has been developing Project Nucleus since 2019. Teper and his team were tasked with creating a new way to expediate performance and reliability for apps that have a lot of content. Cloud syncing is the obvious solution and an area Microsoft already has a lot of experience in.

However, while OneDrive and SharePoint allow syncing, Nucleus brings more offline capabilities. Specifically, it will tap into progressive web apps (PWAs) to deliver offline modes for web apps.

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