Office 2007 Toolset Targets Visual Studio Professional Developers
VSTO 2005 SE, allows developers to create application-level add-in solutions for Office 2007 applications.
Microsoft wants to add the Visual Studio Office 2007 toolset to every professional developer's toolbox. Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office Second Edition (VSTO 2005 SE), allows developers to create application-level add-in solutions for Office 2007 applications. In beta since September, the final release of the toolset, code-named "Cypress," will coincide with the release of the 2007 Office System, expected early next year.
The first version of VSTO 2005 enabled developers to create applications for Office 2003. The second edition adds support for two Office apps-PowerPoint and Visio-in addition to Outlook, Excel, Word and InfoPath. VSTO 2005 SE is one of the toolsets that Microsoft plans to integrate in the next-generation of Visual Studio (code-named "Orcas").
VSTO 2005 SE provides programming model and runtime support for new 2007 Office System features designed to support customized user interfaces and collaboration. It also allows developers to extend key Office features such as the Ribbon UI, custom task panes and Outlook forms regions.
"In the current version of Visual Studio for Office, I can create a solution that has a custom task pane and associate it with a single document," explains Mike Hernandez, VSTO product manager. "In the new version, I can create an application task pane, and the application can now be available to any document that I add in Word."
The VSTO 2005 SE beta does not include Visual Designers for the Ribbon, task pane and Outlook features, notes K.D. Hallman, general manager of Office Platform Developer Tools at Microsoft. According to her blog posting, that functionality, which is not currently available due to time constraints, is on the product roadmap. The beta does offer design templates for InfoPath forms.
"With any beta we're always open to feedback that we get from customers," says Hernandez, who notes that adding functionality hasn't been ruled out. "I don't know that I can say that it's locked down completely right now, it may or may not be."
Applications in Office
Hernandez says VSTO 2005 taps the ubiquitous Office feature set to do things like develop a multi-office invoicing application that lets users access Excel data and create invoices in Word.
Applications built on the 2007 Office System can easily access back-end data, Web services and business objects, according to Microsoft. The VS toolsets enable developers to take advantage of the data binding capabilities in Visual Studio.
The VSTO 2005 SE beta is fully supported and available free to developers who are using licensed versions of Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition or Visual Studio Tools for Office 2005. The September beta release added support for the standalone version of Visual Studio 2005 Professional.
The VSTO 2005 SE beta is available for download now.
Kathleen Richards is the editor of RedDevNews.com and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.