What's New in Developer Content

This section contains a summary of the new features that apply to the developer content in the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Our COM documentation has existed for many versions and for the 2007 version, we decided to focus on three main areas:

  • Visual Studio look and feel
  • Task-based code samples
  • Object model changes

Visual Studio look and feel

In previous versions, the organization of our table of content was far from intuitive, and the feedback from our Visual Studio customers was that they often felt disoriented in Office Help. The Visual Studio look and feel goals are to have our docs look and operate more like the Visual Studio documentation. We also want our COM documentation to match the look and feel of our managed code documentation, such as the Project SDK, or the SharePoint Server SDK.

The following picture of a Microsoft Office Excel Developer topic shows the new look and feel.

New 2007 Office System Developer content look and feel

The refreshed table of content design groups all the relevant members for a given object under that object node entry in the table of content as seen in the following figure.

New 2007 Office System Developer Table of Content

As in Visual Studio help, we added Members table topics that presents high level information for all the members corresponding to a given object. The following picture illustrates the concept.

New 2007 Office System Developer content Members table

Task-based code samples

The second focus area in the developer content in the 2007 Microsoft Office system is the implementation of task-based code samples or how-to topics. The idea is to provide code samples, based on a task taxonomy. We want to make sure that if developers knows what they want to do, but have no idea where to look in the object model (as it often the case with new users), we provide an answer.

We provide a list of categories such as: working with sheets, working with PivotTables, working with XML, or working with data. Then, for each of those, we provide sub-categories. For example, "Exporting Data" is a sub-category of “Working with Data”. Each sub-category contains a list of discrete tasks, such as exporting to CSV, exporting to a tab delimited text file, or exporting to XML.

Visual Studio 2005 used a similar concept with their "How Do I?" entry points in help.

The Outlook Developer documentation and the SharePoint Server SDK both contain many new how-to code samples. Look for how-to entries in the table of contents and expect these topics to expand in other Office help content during subsequent updates. To view the most recent content, visit the Microsoft Office Developer Center.

We actively monitor discussions and questions from the newsgroups to identify tasks to document. If you have specific tasks for which you want to provide a code sample, send us an e-mail message at O12DevDx@microsoft.com.

Object model changes

In previous versions of Office, the documentation provided accurate information about the new items in each object model. For the 2007 Office system, we also provide information about the various changes from one version of the object model to another, starting with Microsoft Office 97. For more information about new and updated members, see the appropriate topics in What's New in the table of content, as pictured below.

Object models delta entry points

In the sample below, we provide both the old and the new syntax to highlight syntax changes.

Example of Syntax Diff between versions

We believe that adopting the Visual Studio Help Model, adding more task-base code samples and providing in-depth information about object model changes represent significant progress in our developer documentation. If you have feedback on any of the decisions we made, feel free to send us an e-mail message at O12DevDx@microsoft.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

- The Office Developer Docs Group