Using Windows Presentation Foundation in Office Clients

I was cleaning up my desk today and in the piles of mail and gobs of paper I found the SDN Magazine “Women in Technology” issue 101 that featured an article I wrote that was released in print back in May. Well, I just noticed today that near the end of June they made most of the articles available online, including mine. :-)

Using Windows Presentation Foundation and Line-of-Business Data in Microsoft Office Clients

In this article I talk about how to expose Line-of-Business data via ADO.NET Data Services to an Excel client using WPF. Office solutions you build with Visual Studio are designed to work with Windows Forms controls but you can also use WPF controls in your solutions as well. Any UI element that can host Windows Forms controls in an Office solution (VSTO) can also host WPF controls using the Winforms ElementHost as a container.

Using WPF controls in Office allows you to think out of the box and provide world-class data visualizations that are not possible with Windows Forms controls. And you can do it easily in an instantly familiar end-user application like those in the Office family. But what if you don’t have any fancy data visualizations? Even the simplest controls that display data are often better off as WPF controls in Office applications because they better match the UI styles used in the latest versions of Office. Using WPF can make your add-ins look built into the Office applications themselves, providing a better user experience.

This article describes one piece of the Northwind Office Business Application (OBA) we created in the beginning of the year so if you’re interested in OBA development with Outlook, Word, Excel and Sharepoint I’d suggest reading these as well:

  • OBA Part 1 – Exposing Line-of-Business Data
  • OBA Part 2 – Building and Outlook Client against LOB Data
  • OBA Part 3 – Storing and Reading Data in Word Documents
  • OBA Part 4 – Building an Excel Client against LOB Data
  • OBA Part 5 – Building the SharePoint 2007 Workflow
  • The full sample application, built with Visual Studio 2008, is here: 

    Of course, the rest of the magazine is pack full of awesome articles from very well known women in technology (scroll to the bottom of this page for the whole list). I’m honored to be featured with them in this issue. Thanks again to Marianne van Wanrooij and the folks at SDN for putting this together and I’ll see you in October at the SDN Conference!