Tools for developing apps for Office
Learn how to get started creating an app for Office using Visual Studio or a text editor.
Last modified: May 01, 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.
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".
You can create apps for Office in Visual Studio, which provides you with project templates and powerful features to make developing apps simple. But, if you'd rather you can also develop the files for your app using your favorite text editor.
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 of the files that you need to begin testing your app in 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.
Get started quickly with a complete Visual Studio solution.
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.
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, you’ll have to download the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 from the Office Dev Center. 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 apps for Office 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.
If you'd rather use your favorite text editor to create an app for Office, see these topics for information about how to get started: