Chapter 22. Visual Studio Tools for Office

This chapter introduces the Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) project templates. VSTO has been around as an add-in to Visual Studio for several releases. Visual Studio 2008 includes it as part of the standard installation of all versions of Visual Studio Professional and above. The VSTO package isn't so much a set of new menus as it is templates and DLLs that enable you to integrate custom business logic into Microsoft Office products.

VSTO has been somewhat neglected in the .NET development world. The main Office client applications that most people think about to target, Word and Excel, have supported customization through Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) since long before .NET, so for most developers the power of VSTO hasn't really been leveraged. With the release of Office 2007 and the new project types available in Visual Studio 2008, you can expect Outlook to start to take center stage in terms of Office-based application customization.

More important, Visual Studio 2008 not only introduces VSTO as a mainline set of tools with Visual Studio Professional Edition and above, but also provides one of the largest deltas in terms of new features from previous versions of anything in Visual Studio 2008. These new features are intended to provide much more end-to-end use of VSTO to enable the creation of business applications.

This chapter introduces you to the role of the VSTO family of tools and demonstrates three different implementation ...

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