Debug VSTO Add-in or Customization



One of our best supporters in the MSDN forums, Dave (davidthi808), asked an excellent question the other day:


If an Add-In does not load, what is Microsoft's suggested approach to resolving why it won't load?


(for the record, Dave’s excellent sleuthing skills [not computer hacking skills or nunchuck skills a la ‘Napoleon Dynamite’] helped him solve his immediate debug problem, so props to Dave)


The answer is “out there”, but it is scattered all over. So, I thought I would bring the answer together in a more orderly way:



  1. We have a couple of MSDN items that address this issue head on. They are:


  2. Peter Torr has a great blog post (he has many of those) about troubleshooting your Office customization. It’s a must-read:


  3. You should look at Andrew Whitechapel’s book on Office Interop. Here’s a key chapter:


  4. You can attach the CLR process in your debugging so you can see precisely how the .NET is handling things under the hood. This is a technique many developers do not know, but you can learn more about it in this MSDN topic:


  5. You can set VS.NET to pump out more exceptions by going to Debug|Exceptions and adding CLR exceptions.

 Rock Thought for the Day: I boug the U2 Vertigo Concert DVD. It’s a great show. The moment where Bono reaches out and connects finger-tips with a young boy in the audience, then invites the boy on stage, then walks around the circle with him is the zenith of the show. It’s the best mixture of coolness and the warmth of humanity. Bono asks the boy his name. After the boy responds he says, “My name is Paul, but I call myself Bono.” At this moment, one gets the feeling that Bono and this kid could spend a whole day playing frisbee and miniature golf, and yet Bono remains aware of his stage presence and the demands of his iconographic status. Get it. Watch it.


Rock On

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