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January 20, 2005

Are you using Visual Studio Tools for Office?

Posted 4711 days ago on January 20, 2005

Today I got the chance to talk to KD Hallman, Microsoft's General Manager for Visual Studio Tools for Office. Interesting stuff, especially what's coming in Visual Studio 2005. Perhaps the most remarkable feature (though not necessarily the most important) is the ability to treat a Word or Excel document like a Windows Form, and put .NET controls like buttons and listboxes directly onto it. Event-handling code goes into a code-behind assembly, somewhat like the ASP.NET model.

This is very cool, but I have some concerns. Office is unmanaged code and makes heavy use of COM, so the .NET integration uses COM interop. Office is huge and complex, so my main worry is that the resulting solution would be resource-hungry and fragile. I've instinctively shied away from the current VSTO for this reason; adding embedded Winform controls sounds even more risky. However KD assures me that this isn't so :-).

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who's created a full VSTO solution. Is it robust? Does it perform OK? Was deployment tolerably straightforward? Please comment here or send me an email: tim(at)itwriting.com.

See here for a summary of what's new in VSTO.

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