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Create Apps for Office by using Visual Studio

By using Visual Studio, you can create apps for Office, which are basically webpages that are hosted inside Office client applications, such as Excel or Outlook. Apps for Office extend the functionality of documents, email messages, meeting requests, or appointments by surfacing web technologies and cloud services. These apps carry a light footprint because they aren’t installed on the computer that’s running the host application. They run from a securely sandboxed browser control so that you can easily maintain and update them, and they use technologies that are based on web standards such as HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, XML, and REST APIs. For more information, see Overview of apps for Office.

To create an app for Office, use the App for Office project template, and then choose a few settings in a wizard..

Note Note

This template will appear only in the following editions of Visual Studio:

  • Visual Studio Professional

  • Visual Studio Premium

  • Visual Studio Ultimate

Visual Studio creates a complete solution that contains all of the files that you need to start to test your app for Office. In fact, Visual Studio provides a full range of features that you can use to develop and test apps for Office more easily. To read about each of them, see Development Basics.

By using Visual Studio, you can create the following types of apps.

  • Task pane apps for Word, Excel, and Project. These apps appear in the task pane of an Office application.

  • Content apps for Excel. These apps appear inside of a worksheet.

  • Mail apps for Outlook. These apps appear next to the Outlook item (email message, meeting request, meeting response, meeting cancellation, or appointment) that’s open.

For more information about each of these types of apps, see Types of Apps for Office.

To get started, you can create a basic task pane or content app by following the instructions in How to: Create your first task pane or content app for Word and Excel by using Visual Studio.

For a detailed walkthrough that describes the files in your solution, explains different ways to debug your app, and features a more in-depth code sample, see Using Visual Studio to develop an app for Excel, Word, or Project.

Mail apps can create compelling user experiences by accessing contextual information from Outlook items and then using that data to access more information on the server and from web services. However, you can’t host mail apps in SharePoint. When you’re ready to publish your app, you must host the web application files on a server.

To get started, you can create a basic mail app by following the instructions in How to: Create your first mail app for Outlook by using Visual Studio.

For a detailed walkthrough that describes the files in your solution, explains different ways to debug your app, and features a more in-depth code sample, see Using Visual Studio to develop a mail app for Outlook.

When you are ready to publish your app for Office, you choose a few settings in the publish wizard. Visual Studio generates all of the files that you need to publish the app to the SharePoint corporate catalog, the Office Store, a shared network folder, or an Exchange catalog. For more information, see How to: Package an app for Office for publishing by using Visual Studio.

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