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Walkthrough: Creating Your First Document-Level Customization for Excel


This introductory walkthrough shows you how to create a document-level customization for Microsoft Office Excel. The features that you create in this kind of solution are available only when a specific workbook is open. You cannot use a document-level customization to make application-wide changes, for example, displaying a new Ribbon tab when any workbook is open.

Applies to: The information in this topic applies to document-level projects for Excel. For more information, see Features Available by Office Application and Project Type.

This walkthrough illustrates the following tasks:

  • Creating an Excel workbook project.

  • Adding text to a worksheet that is hosted in the Visual Studio designer.

  • Writing code that uses the object model of Excel to add text to the customized worksheet when it is opened.

  • Building and running the project to test it.

  • Cleaning up the completed project to remove unnecessary build files and security settings from your development computer.

System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note

Your computer might show different names or locations for some of the Visual Studio user interface elements in the following instructions. The Visual Studio edition that you have and the settings that you use determine these elements. For more information, see Personalizing the IDE.

You need the following components to complete this walkthrough:

To create a new Excel workbook project in Visual Studio

  1. Start Visual Studio.

  2. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Project.

  3. In the templates pane, expand Visual C# or Visual Basic, and then expand Office/SharePoint.

  4. Under the expanded Office/SharePoint node, select the Office Add-ins node.

  5. In the list of project templates, choose an Excel VSTO Add-in project.

  6. In the Name box, type FirstWorkbookCustomization.

  7. Click OK.

    The Visual Studio Tools for Office Project Wizard opens.

  8. Select Create a new document, and click OK.

    • Visual Studio creates the FirstWorkbookCustomization project, and adds the following files to the project.

    • FirstWorkbookCustomization.xlsx - Represents the Excel workbook in the project. Contains all the worksheets and charts.

    • Sheet1 (.vb file for Visual Basic or .cs file for Visual C#) - A worksheet that provides the design surface and the code for the first worksheet in the workbook. For more information, see Worksheet Host Item.

    • Sheet2 (.vb file for Visual Basic or .cs file for Visual C#) - A worksheet that provides the design surface and the code for the second worksheet in the workbook.

    • Sheet3 (.vb file for Visual Basic or .cs file for Visual C#) - A worksheet that provides the design surface and the code for the third worksheet in the workbook.

    • ThisWorkbook (.vb file for Visual Basic or .cs file for Visual C#) - Contains the design surface and the code for workbook-level customizations. For more information, see Workbook Host Item.

    The Sheet1 code file is opened automatically in the designer.

If you deliberately or accidentally close a workbook or a worksheet in the designer while you are developing your project, you can reopen it.

To close and reopen a worksheet in the designer

  1. Close the workbook by clicking the Close button (X) for the designer window.

  2. In Solution Explorer, right-click the Sheet1 code file, and click View Designer.

    - or -

    In Solution Explorer, double-click the Sheet1 code file.

You can design the user interface (UI) of your customization by modifying the worksheet that is open in the designer. For example, you can add text to cells, apply formulas, or add Excel controls. For more information about how to use the designer, see Office Projects in the Visual Studio Environment.

To add text to a worksheet by using the designer

  1. In the worksheet that is open in the designer, select cell A1, and then type the following text.

    This text was added by using the designer.

System_CAPS_ICON_warning.jpg Warning

If you add this line of text to cell A2, it will be overwritten by other code in this example.

Next, add code to the Sheet1 code file. The new code uses the object model of Excel to add a second line of text to the workbook. By default, the Sheet1 code file contains the following generated code:

  • A partial definition of the Sheet1 class, which represents the programming model of the worksheet and provides access to the object model of Excel. For more information, Worksheet Host Item and Word Object Model Overview. The remainder of the Sheet1 class is defined in a hidden code file that you should not modify.

  • The Sheet1_Startup and Sheet1_Shutdown event handlers. These event handlers are called when Excel loads and unloads your customization. Use these event handlers to initialize your customization when it is loaded, and to clean up resources used by your customization when it is unloaded. For more information, see Events in Office Projects.

To add a second line of text to the worksheet by using code

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click Sheet1, and then click View Code.

    The code file opens in Visual Studio.

  2. Replace the Sheet1_Startup event handler with the following code. When Sheet1 is opened, this code adds a second line of text to the worksheet.

        Private Sub Sheet1_Startup(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles Me.Startup
            Dim nr As Microsoft.Office.Tools.Excel.NamedRange = _
                Me.Controls.AddNamedRange(Me.Range("A2"), "NamedRange1")
            nr.Value2 = "This text was added by using code"
        End Sub

To test your workbook

  1. Press F5 to build and run your project.

    When you build the project, the code is compiled into an assembly that is associated with the workbook. Visual Studio puts a copy of the workbook and the assembly in the build output folder for the project, and it configures the security settings on the development computer to enable the customization to run. For more information, see Building Office Solutions.

  2. In the workbook, verify that you see the following text.

    This text was added by using the designer.

    This text was added by using code.

  3. Close the workbook.

When you finish developing a project, you should remove the files in the build output folder and the security settings created by the build process.

To clean up the completed project on your development computer

  1. In Visual Studio, on the Build menu, click Clean Solution.

Now that you have created a basic document-level customization for Excel, you can learn more about how to develop customizations from these topics:

Office Solutions Development Overview (VSTO)
Excel Solutions
Programming Document-Level Customizations
Excel Object Model Overview
Automating Excel by Using Extended Objects
Office UI Customization
Building Office Solutions
Deploying an Office Solution
Office Project Templates Overview