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Tools for developing Office Add-ins

Office Add-ins

Use Visual Studio or another tool to create apps for Office.

Last modified: July 24, 2015

Applies to: Access apps for SharePoint | apps for Office | Excel | Office Add-ins | Outlook | PowerPoint | Project | Word

Learn more about supported hosts and other requirements.

Note Note

The name "apps for Office" is changing to "Office Add-ins". During the transition, the documentation and the UI of some Office host applications and Visual Studio tools might still use the term "apps for Office". For details, see New name for apps for Office and SharePoint.

In this article
Creating an app for Office with Visual Studio
Get Started with Visual Studio
In this section
Additional resources

You can create apps for Office in Visual Studio, which provides you with project templates and powerful features to make developing apps simple.

You can also develop the files for your app using Napa Office 365 Development Tools, or your favorite text editor. For more information, see:

The most powerful way to build an app for Office is to use the App for Office project template in Visual Studio. Visual Studio creates a complete solution that contains all the files that you need to begin testing your app for Office immediately. Visual Studio provides a full range of features to make it easy for you to develop and test apps for Office.

The figure below shows you some of the features that help you develop app for Office.

The Visual Studio environment

Visual Studio environment for creating apps
  • Get started quickly with a complete Visual Studio solution.

    Your solution contains a prepopulated XML manifest file, script libraries, styles sheets, starter HTML and JavaScript files that you can use to get started quickly. The starter HTML file contains a reference to style sheets that enable you to develop a page that has the look and feel of Office. This page also refers to other important files such as a default JavaScript file that you can use to add your JavaScript code. The default JavaScript file contains sample code to help you get started with the JavaScript API for Office.

  • Edit the XML manifest file using the Manifest Designer.

    Modify the most common settings of your app by using a convenient property page-like editor called the Manifest Designer. As you interact with the Manifest Designer, Visual Studio updates the XML manifest file in your app project for you. You can also edit the XML manifest file directly. The settings in the Manifest Designer and the XML manifest file remain in sync.

  • Quickly uncover validation errors.

    Validation errors appear in the code editor as well as in the ERRORLIST window. In the code editor, you can point to a validation error to view a tooltip that describes the error.

  • Discover objects in the JavaScript API for Office by using IntelliSense.

    When you type the name of an object in the JavaScript API for Office, lists of all valid objects or members appear in a drop-down list. You can scroll through the list or type the first few letters of a member to move to that member in the list. As you highlight items in the drop-down list, IntelliSense displays information about the object or parameters.

  • Find and fix issues quickly by using the Visual Studio debugger.

    When you start the solution, Visual Studio opens the Office application for you. Depending on the type of app for Office you create, Visual Studio automatically shows the app running in the context of an Office host application. To find and fix issues in your app, set breakpoints, interact with the app, and then step through your code.

  • Package your app for publishing by using the publish wizard.

    When you are ready to publish your app for Office, just make a few selections 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, file catalog share, or Exchange catalog.

Visual Studio is designed to make it easier for you to develop and debug apps for Office. If you’re using Visual Studio 2012, download the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012. If you’re using Visual Studio 2013, support for creating apps for Office is built in, but to make sure you're working with the latest features, download and install the latest Microsoft Office Developer Tools update.

To learn how to get started, see Create an Office Add-in project in Visual Studio. Just choose a template and select a few options in a wizard and Visual Studio will generate everything you need to run your app immediately. The only thing that you add is the content that you want to appear in the app.

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