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What's New in Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2.0

Visual Studio 2008

If you upgrade your host application to Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2.0 from Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Applications, you can provide a way for add-in developers to also upgrade their existing projects to work with the new version. You can add code to the IDE to automatically upgrade add-in projects by implementing the upgrade helper interface.

The members of the upgrade helper interface describe the following tasks:

  • Provide methods to add and remove assembly references in the add-in project file.

  • Change information that is passed to the debugger such as the startup application name and parameters.

  • Specify an updated path for Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2.0 templates.

To get started, see Upgrading to Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2.0.

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The updated Proxy Generation tool in Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2.0 creates proxy descriptors and proxy files for your application's object model. A proxy is a type that represents the add-in's view of a type in the host object model. In a proxy descriptor file, you can modify the object model that your application exposes to add-ins without changing or recompiling the host object model.

The Proxy Generation tool includes the following new features:

  • Support for custom exceptions for managed exceptions that are defined in the object model of the host application.

  • Improved add-in error handling with better design-time error messages.

  • Support for object models that have static members.

To get started, see Creating Proxies.

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Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2.0 is based on the standard add-in programming model that is introduced in the .NET Framework 3.5. To discover and load add-ins for your application, you now use the AddInStore and AddInToken classes in the .NET Framework.

Visual Studio Tools for Applications uses and extends the .NET Framework add-in programming model by including the following features:

  • A complete implementation of an add-in pipeline built around a custom set of contracts. When you integrate Visual Studio Tools for Applications, you reuse this add-in pipeline, rather than implementing your own.

  • An infrastructure for associating types in the host application with the proxy types used by add-ins, and for transporting objects between process or application domain boundaries. You can use this infrastructure in your host application by using a small set of classes.

  • Custom view interfaces that provide a standard way to run initialization and shutdown code in add-ins when you load and unload them.

To get started, see Discovering and Loading Add-Ins.

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You can add code to the host application that dynamically modifies the object model of an add-in project that is open in the Visual Studio Tools for Applications IDE. The host application can raise an event when a developer creates an instance of an item in the host application, for example, a document or a form, or an object, such as page or a control. Your code can handle the event and add a corresponding host item or host object to the open add-in project. When you add a host item or host object, you generate code in the project that the developer can use to access the corresponding item or object in the host application.

Visual Studio Tools for Applications provides support for the following tasks:

  • Dynamically add and remove host items during add-in development.

  • Dynamically add and remove host controls during add-in development.

  • Generate code in the user code files.

To get started, see Dynamically Creating and Modifying Host Items and Host Objects in an Add-in Project.

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You can implement ClickOnce deployment features in your host application and the Visual Studio Tools for Applications IDE. Add-in developers who have installed the Windows SDK can deploy their add-ins and use digital signatures as evidence for trust decisions.

Visual Studio Tools for Applications includes the following security and deployment features:

  • Make trust decisions at an enterprise level by signing manifests with a known and trusted certificate.

  • Display the ClickOnce trust prompt for end users to make trust decisions.

  • Determine the trust level of an add-in even before downloading it.

  • Discover add-ins at startup.

  • Load add-ins securely by separating them from the host application and specifying the security trust level.

To get started, see Securing and Deploying Add-Ins

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Developers who have Visual Studio 2008 can use it to create their add-ins. They can use new Visual Studio 2008 features such as the following:

  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

  • Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)

  • Windows Workflow Foundation (WF)

  • Language Integrated Query Framework (LINQ)

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