Wow! I’m coming back from a meeting where I saw a demo of the Visual Studio Office (code-named Trinity) projects integration with the Application Designer and I was impressed. The demo was given by some peers of mine (Ross and Liangxiao) and they did a super job of showing us the advantage of supporting Office Applications on the Application Designer. I wasn't intending to blog until next week, but I have been inspired by their demo ...
Let me start by saying that this is a new Beta 2 feature; therefore, users won’t see this in the Beta 1 release (not even if you look very very closely 🙂 ). Fortunately, the Beta 2 release isn’t that far from here...hopefully.
In many ways, adding Visual Studio Office applications support was a strategic decision. However, this integration makes sense because it creates great value for the customer. Furthermore, I really think that the Trinity team has done a great job in making it easy to create rich office based applications. What’s great about the integration is that it allows customers to easily visualize and create web services connections with Trinity applications, whiteboard systems that contain Trinity applications prior to implementation, and do deployment validation with Trinity applications against their logical datacenter.
In the demo itself, Ross and Liangxiao created a web service front end to our actual bugs database, a class library where they placed the shared business logic to access the data through the web service front end and transform it, and a Trinity front end to display the data. All of this aside from writing the code itself, adding the class library, and creating the web reference in the class library were done through the application designer. The Application Designer even visualized the Web service connection that was made indirectly through the class library by the Trinity application.
In creating the Trinity application, Liangxiao had earlier created an Excel template that she used as the starting point for creating the Trinity application. The template contained predefined charts that she used as a starting point for the excel application she was creating. She followed that by making a project reference to the class library where the shared logic was contained. Unfortunately, Excel projects only have executable rights so she had to manually change the permissions for the office application. Finally, with a few lines of code in the Trinity application Liangxiao created a beautiful chart that showed how we were progressing on resolving our bugs for Beta 2. (All you need to know is that we're not doing too bad... 🙂 )
As the excel application provided a far richer client than web/windows clients normally do, I could see myself using excel's features to later create more charts and/or filter the bug data as required. What really hit home for me was that Liangxiao and Ross created an application that we could actually use to track our bug data.