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Walkthrough: Automating an Application from a Custom Task Pane


This walkthrough demonstrates how to create a custom task pane that automates PowerPoint. The custom task pane inserts dates into a slide when the user clicks a MonthCalendar control that is on the custom task pane.

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

Although this walkthrough uses PowerPoint specifically, the concepts demonstrated by the walkthrough are applicable to any applications that are listed above.

This walkthrough illustrates the following tasks:

  • Designing the user interface of the custom task pane.

  • Automating PowerPoint from the custom task pane.

  • Displaying the custom task pane in PowerPoint.

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 Customizing Development Settings in Visual Studio.

You need the following components to complete this walkthrough:

The first step is to create an VSTO Add-in project for PowerPoint.

To create a new project

  1. Create a PowerPoint VSTO Add-in project with the name MyAddIn, by using the PowerPoint Add-in project template. For more information, see How to: Create Office Projects in Visual Studio.

    Visual Studio opens the ThisAddIn.cs or ThisAddIn.vb code file and adds the MyAddIn project to Solution Explorer.

There is no visual designer for custom task panes, but you can design a user control with the layout you want. Later in this walkthrough, you will add the user control to the custom task pane.

To design the user interface of the custom task pane

  1. On the Project menu, click Add User Control.

  2. In the Add New Item dialog box, change the name of the user control to MyUserControl, and click Add.

    The user control opens in the designer.

  3. From the Common Controls tab of the Toolbox, drag a MonthCalendar control to the user control.

    If the MonthCalendar control is larger than the design surface of the user control, resize the user control to fit the MonthCalendar control.

The purpose of the VSTO Add-in is to put a selected date on the first slide of the active presentation. Use the DateChanged event of the control to add the selected date whenever it changes.

To automate PowerPoint from the custom task pane

  1. In the designer, double-click the MonthCalendar control.

    The MyUserControl.cs or MyUserControl.vb file opens, and an event handler for the DateChanged event is created.

  2. Add the following code to the top of the file. This code creates aliases for the Microsoft.Office.Core and N:Microsoft.Office.Interop.PowerPoint namespaces.

    Imports Office = Microsoft.Office.Core
    Imports PowerPoint = Microsoft.Office.Interop.PowerPoint

  3. Add the following code to the MyUserControl class. This code declares a T:Microsoft.Office.Interop.PowerPoint.Shape object as a member of MyUserControl. In the following step, you will use this T:Microsoft.Office.Interop.PowerPoint.Shape to add a text box to a slide in the active presentation.

        Private TextBox As PowerPoint.Shape

  4. Replace the monthCalendar1_DateChanged event handler with the following code. This code adds a text box to the first slide in the active presentation, and then adds the currently selected date to the text box. This code uses the Globals.ThisAddIn object to access the object model of PowerPoint.

        Private Sub MonthCalendar1_DateChanged( _
            ByVal sender As System.Object, _
            ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.DateRangeEventArgs) _
            Handles MonthCalendar1.DateChanged
                If TextBox IsNot Nothing Then
                End If
                Dim Slide As PowerPoint.Slide
                Slide = Globals.ThisAddIn.Application.ActivePresentation.Slides(1)
                TextBox = Slide.Shapes.AddTextbox( _
                    Office.MsoTextOrientation.msoTextOrientationHorizontal, _
                    50, 100, 600, 50)
                TextBox.TextFrame.TextRange.Text = e.Start.ToLongDateString()
                TextBox.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Size = 48
                TextBox.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Color.RGB = _
            Catch ex As Exception
            End Try
        End Sub

  5. In Solution Explorer, right-click the MyAddIn project and then click Build. Verify that the project builds without errors.

To display the custom task pane when the VSTO Add-in starts, add the user control to the task pane in the Startup event handler of the VSTO Add-in.

To display the custom task pane

  1. In Solution Explorer, expand PowerPoint.

  2. Right-click ThisAddIn.cs or ThisAddIn.vb and click View Code.

  3. Add the following code to the ThisAddIn class. This code declares instances of MyUserControl and CustomTaskPane as members of the ThisAddIn class.

        Private myUserControl1 As MyUserControl
        Private myCustomTaskPane As Microsoft.Office.Tools.CustomTaskPane

  4. Replace the ThisAddIn_Startup event handler with the following code. This code creates a new CustomTaskPane by adding the MyUserControl object to the CustomTaskPanes collection. The code also displays the task pane.

        Private Sub ThisAddIn_Startup(ByVal sender As Object, _
            ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles Me.Startup
            myUserControl1 = New MyUserControl
            myCustomTaskPane = Me.CustomTaskPanes.Add(myUserControl1, "Calendar")
            myCustomTaskPane.Visible = True
        End Sub

When you run the project, PowerPoint opens and the VSTO Add-in displays the custom task pane. Click the MonthCalendar control to test the code.

To test your VSTO Add-in

  1. Press F5 to run your project.

  2. Confirm that the custom task pane is visible.

  3. Click a date in the MonthCalendar control on the task pane.

    The date is inserted into the first slide in the active presentation.

You can learn more about how to create custom task panes from these topics:

Custom Task Panes
How to: Add a Custom Task Pane to an Application
Walkthrough: Synchronizing a Custom Task Pane with a Ribbon Button
Walkthrough: Displaying Custom Task Panes with E-Mail Messages in Outlook