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Microsoft Office applications have always been extensible via add-ins and various automation techniques. Even Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which was widely known for various limitations in accessing system files, had the capability to write applications that used an instance of an Office application to achieve certain tasks, such as Word's spell-checking feature.
After Visual Studio .NET was released in 2002, Microsoft soon followed with the first release of Visual Studio Tools for Office (known by the abbreviation VSTO, pronounced “visto”). This initial version of VSTO didn't actually produce anything new except for an easier way to create application projects that would use Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. However, subsequent versions of VSTO quickly evolved and became more powerful, enabling you to build more functional applications that ran on the Office platform.
This chapter begins with a look at the types ...