KD Hallman, general manager of my team, announced today the availability of Visual Studio Tools for Applications--a "modern, scalable, and more secure version of VBA". I quote her forum post below:
I am excited to announce that Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA) was released as an integrated component of the 2007 Office system earlier this week and is available to both Office developers and ISVs!
As Microsoft's future direction in application extensibility, VSTA provides a powerful customization toolset for ISVs, their customers, and their partners. Leveraging Visual Studio and .NET to provide managed extensibility, VSTA enables innovative customization scenarios while offering new levels of security and control. VSTA accelerates and simplifies the development of tailored solutions, helping ISVs grow their partner ecosystems and extend their market reach. By integrating VSTA into their applications, ISVs give their customers a managed environment for tailoring applications to specific business needs. Within VSTA, multiple configuration options offer ISVs deep control over the customization experience, and new technologies make it possible to develop more reliable, version-resilient extensions. You can think of it as the modern, scalable, and more secure version of VBA.
This first release of VSTA makes numerous improvements over the VBA experience and includes many of the beloved VBA favorites. Perhaps the feature most applauded by enterprise BDMs and SI’s is that VSTA customizations are seamlessly opened by any version of Visual Studio enabling professional developers to continue to enhance applications originally created by end user developers – a feature requested by many enterprises because applications often grow in sophistication over time.
A brief rundown of this feature packed release of VSTA includes:
Leverages the innovative Visual Studio (VS) toolset
Multi-language support – VB and C#
Windows Forms designer
IntelliSense & Code Tasks
End-user debugging features: breakpoints, watch/auto/locals windows
Supports connected systems development
Web services-based development
Fully leverages the .NET Framework
Running and debugging 32-bit and 64-bit add-ins
Running partial trusted add-ins
Client and Server programming
Common VSTA/VSTO runtime architecture for seamless up-leveling of solutions
Graduated host integration capabilities – “use what you need when you need it”
Low barrier to entry – get started in about two days
Add more functionality as desired/needed over time
Runs side x side with VBA
Simplifies loading and unloading of add-ins
Ability to manage application domain creation
Host defined discovery and qualification supporting repository based scenarios
VSTA SDK includes
Redistributable VS based IDE and Runtime
Samples and walk throughs
Find out more about VSTA here, including how to download the VSTA SDK and learn about the simplified and transparent ISV pricing model.