Office Development in Visual Studio
You can extend Office 2013 and Office 2010 by using Office developer tools in Visual Studio to create apps and solutions. Apps focus on web integration, and solutions target the .NET Framework and are more deeply integrated with the Office object model.
For more information about these differences, see Roadmap for Apps for Office, VSTO, and VBA.
By creating apps for Office, you can create visually rich solutions that integrate data and web content. For example, you can create a more effective sales report by combining sales data from a database for managing customer relationships with the web service for Bing maps.
You don’t have to use Visual Studio to create an app for Office, but you can create one more easily by using the templates, visual editors, and automated packaging tools in Visual Studio. For more information about how to create apps for Office by using Visual Studio, see Create Apps for Office by using Visual Studio.
If you want to create solutions that deeply integrate with Office and leverage the full power of the .NET Framework, an add-in or customization might be a great option. An add-in runs when an Office app, such as Excel, is started. Add-ins can affect any document that the user opens. Each customization is associated with a specific document.
By using an add-in or customization, you can create UI elements that blend in with default elements of the Office UI. For example, you can add custom tabs, groups, and commands to the ribbon or task panes that appear next to open documents. You can create these elements by adding controls to a visual designer, and you can configure their appearance and behavior by setting properties in the Properties window. You can handle events on those UI elements. In your event-handling code, you can automate Office tasks or provide custom logic that uses the .NET Framework to interact with a database or service.
Add-ins and customizations provide the deepest integration with Office while giving you all the benefits of using the .NET Framework. However, each add-in and customization must be installed on user machines, so these solutions might be more difficult to deploy and support. For information about how to configure your computer to develop Office solutions, see Configuring a Computer to Develop Office Solutions. To get started creating your first Office solution, see Office Solutions Development Overview.