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What's New in Visual Studio Tools for Office

Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (SP1) contains updates and new features that affect Visual Studio Tools for Office. The SP1 changes are listed separately from the Visual Studio 2008 features to help you find the latest additions quickly:

Visual Studio 2008 SP1 includes features that are designed to help you accomplish the following tasks:

Add Host Controls and Smart Tags to Add-in Projects

You can add smart tags and host controls, such as content controls in Word 2007 and list objects in Excel 2007, to documents in application-level add-in projects. These managed host controls behave like native Office objects, but with added functionality such as events and data-binding capabilities.

To get started, see Adding Controls to Office Documents at Run Time and Smart Tags Overview.

Deploy the Office Primary Interop Assemblies with Your Solution Installer

When you use ClickOnce to deploy solutions for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, the Microsoft Office 2007 Primary Interop Assemblies are automatically selected as prerequisites. The primary interop assemblies are copied to the same deployment folder as your solution installer.

To get started, see How to: Install Prerequisites on End User Computers to Run Office Solutions (2007 System).

Rapidly Deploy Your Solution with the .NET Framework Client Profile

You can now specify the .NET Framework Client Profile as the target Framework version. This smaller version of the .NET Framework decreases the size of your solution during installation by not including all of the Framework assemblies. You can use this with your solutions for the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

To get started, see Creating Office Solutions in Visual Studio.

Troubleshoot Installation with the Event Viewer

When you install or uninstall Visual Studio Tools for Office solutions, the Visual Studio Tools for Office runtime logs error messages that you can view by using the event viewer in Windows. You can use these messages to help resolve installation and deployment problems.

To get started, see Event Logging (2007 System).

Application-level add-ins are a way for you to add your own features to Microsoft Office applications. Code that you write is available to the application itself, regardless of which documents are open.

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following features to simplify add-in development:

  • Create add-ins by using new project templates for many applications in Microsoft Office 2003 and the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

  • Program add-ins by using a new programming model that is less complicated than writing COM add-ins.

To get started, see Getting Started Programming Application-Level Add-Ins.

Call Code in an Add-in from Other Office Solutions

You can expose an object in your add-in to other Microsoft Office solutions, such as other add-ins and VBA code in documents. This is useful if your add-in provides a service that you want to enable other Office solutions to use.

To get started, see Calling Code in Application-Level Add-ins from Other Solutions.

Use ClickOnce to Deploy Application-Level Add-Ins

You can use ClickOnce technologies to deploy add-ins for applications in the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following deployment features:

  • Use the Publish Wizard to deploy your add-ins.

  • Enable your solutions to automatically download and install updates when the add-in is loaded.

  • Load and run installed add-ins when the user is not connected to a network.

To get started, see Deploying Office Solutions (2007 System).

Load Application-Level Add-ins Securely

Add-ins for applications in the 2007 Microsoft Office system must pass a set of security checks before they are loaded on client computers.

To get started, see Security in Office Solutions (2007 System).

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Document-level customizations are a way for you to add your own features to a specific document or workbook. Features in customizations that you create are available only in the associated document or workbook.

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following features to simplify development of document-level customizations for Word 2007 and Excel 2007:

  • Create customizations for documents and workbooks in the Open XML Formats supported by Word 2007 and Excel 2007, or in the binary file formats supported in Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier.

  • Design your documents and templates inside Visual Studio, and write your code in the same environment.

  • Add Windows Forms controls to your document or template.

  • Add host controls to your document or template. Host controls extend some of the built-in objects in Word and Excel. These objects expose events and have data binding capability.

To get started, see How to: Create Visual Studio Tools for Office Projects.

Call Members in a Document-Level Customization from VBA Code

You can configure a document-level project so that VBA code in the document can call public members in the project's assembly.

To get started, see Calling Code in Document-Level Customizations from VBA.

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Design SharePoint workflows that help move documents that are stored on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 through a process efficiently.

Visual Studio Tools for Office introduces the following features to simplify SharePoint workflow development:

  • Create SharePoint workflow projects by using the SharePoint 2007 Sequential Workflow and SharePoint 2007 State Machine Workflow templates.

  • Press F5 to debug workflow logic. Visual Studio Tools for Office automatically associates the workflow with a default document library on a local SharePoint Web site and starts an instance of the workflow.

To get started, see Walkthrough: Creating and Debugging a SharePoint Workflow Solution.

Configure SharePoint Project Debug Settings by Using a Wizard

Use the New Office SharePoint Workflow wizard to specify debug configuration settings when you create a project. The wizard includes the following options:

  • Specify the SharePoint site, library, and lists that you want to use when you debug the SharePoint workflow.

  • Specify which actions start the workflow.

For more information, see SharePoint Workflow Solutions.

Use Visual Studio Tools for Office to create custom task panes. Task panes are user interface panels that are typically docked to one side of a window in a Microsoft Office application. Custom task panes give you a way to create your own task pane and provide users with a familiar interface to access your solution's features. 

You can create custom task panes in application-level add-ins for some applications in the 2007 Microsoft Office system. To get started, see Custom Task Panes Overview.

You can customize the Ribbon of the following applications:

  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007

  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007

  • Microsoft Office Word 2007

For more information, see Ribbon Overview.

Customize the Ribbon by Using the Ribbon Designer

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following features to simplify Ribbon customization:

  • Add a customizable Ribbon to an Office project quickly by using the Ribbon (Visual Designer) item template.

  • Create custom tabs visually by using the Ribbon Designer:

    • Drag controls to the Ribbon designer surface.

    • Adjust control layout and appearance.

    • Double-click controls to open event handlers.

  • Set control properties by using the Properties window.

  • Add custom code to event handlers by using Visual C# or Visual Basic and take advantage of type checking and IntelliSense technology.

You can also use the Ribbon Designer to add controls to the menu that opens when you click the Microsoft Office Button.

To get started, see Walkthrough: Creating a Custom Tab by Using the Ribbon Designer.

Customize the Ribbon by Using Ribbon XML

You can use Ribbon XML to customize the Ribbon in advanced ways that are not supported by the Ribbon Designer. The following features are also enabled:

  • Add a customizable Ribbon to any Visual Studio Tools for Office project quickly by using the Ribbon (XML) item template.

  • Export any Ribbon that you create by using the Ribbon (Visual Designer) item to a Ribbon (XML) item.

For more information, see Ribbon XML.

Use content controls to create structured Word 2007 documents. A content control defines a region that can contain only a specific type of content, such as text, dates, or pictures. You can use content controls to limit the ways that users can interact with regions of a document.

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following features to simplify content control development:

  • Program against new managed classes for each content control provided by Word 2007.

  • Handle user events for each content control.

  • Bind content controls to elements in custom XML parts in the document, to database fields, or to managed objects.

  • Add content controls to documents by using the designer:

    • Drag content controls to the document surface.

    • Set control properties by using the Properties window.

    • Double-click controls to create default event handlers.

  • Add content controls to documents programmatically at run time.

To get started, see Content Controls.

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Use Visual Studio Tools for Office to design form regions that extend a standard or custom Microsoft Office Outlook form. 

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following features to simplify form region development:

  • Add form regions to your project quickly by using the Form Region item template.

  • Define your form region layout and choose the type of form to extend by using the form region wizard.

  • Develop form regions visually by using the form region designer:

    • Drag and drop managed controls to the form region designer surface.

    • Adjust control layout and appearance.

    • Double-click controls to open event handlers.

    • Add custom code by using Visual C# or Visual Basic and take advantage of type checking and IntelliSense.

  • Debug your project by using tools that automatically start Outlook and generate the files and configuration settings that Outlook must have to locate and run a form region.

  • To get started, see How to: Add a Form Region to an Outlook Add-in Project.

Use the New Outlook Form Region wizard to import any form region that you design in Microsoft Office Outlook. When you design in Outlook, you can use Outlook fields and Outlook native controls that are not available in the Visual Studio Toolbox.

You can also reuse form regions that you have already developed for other Outlook projects.

After you import the form region, you can add code to handle control events. To get started, see Walkthrough: Importing a Form Region That Is Designed in Outlook.

You can use ClickOnce technologies to secure and deploy all your Visual Studio Tools for Office solutions for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, including document-level customizations and application-level add-ins.

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following deployment features:

  • Use the Publish Wizard to publish and deploy your customizations and add-ins.

  • Enable your solutions to automatically check for updates at regular intervals, download and install updates, or roll back to earlier versions.

  • Load and run installed Office solutions when the user is not connected to a network.

To get started, see Deploying Office Solutions (2007 System).

Load Microsoft Office Solutions Securely

The ClickOnce security model is designed to be compatible with future versions of the Visual Studio Tools for Office runtime, the Microsoft .NET Framework, and Microsoft Office.

Visual Studio Tools for Office includes the following security features:

  • For the 2007 Microsoft Office system, secure your Office solutions with a version-independent security model based on ClickOnce.

  • Make security decisions by using the Trust Center in Microsoft Office, by signing the deployment manifest with certificates, by displaying the ClickOnce trust prompt, or by programmatically adding entries to the user inclusion list.

  • Set security policy individually for each user on a computer.

To get started, see Security in Office Solutions (2007 System).

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