It’s not your father’s Office (dev)

I'm a Business Productivity Technology Specialist - that means I get to convince everyone why Office is a cool development platform. The good news is that I really don't have to do much convincing, because the platform is so cool.

I'm simply baffled at where to start. So much has changed in Office since VBA was created... A developer could spend all his/her time in Office creating some amazing tools and never even leave the platform.

Some things I get to worry about working with:

- Visual Studio Tools for Office which gives Word and Excel a .Net object model and provides for attaching .Net assemblies to documents, creating Smart Documents.

- Smart Tags and the Research Task Pane. The Research Task Pane is a UI to access research services from Office applications. A research service is a web service using a standard query/response schema. The task pane calls the service with details about the query request, alternate word forms or phrases, and the application doing the calling (so you can provide different responses based on the application). The task pane can also interface with custom smart tags to perform the lookups or to put data back into the document.

- InfoPath is a new smart forms client that gives developers a solid platform for creating powerful code-driven forms as well as delivering to end users a simple way of creating their own forms without having to call a web developer every time they need a survey done. InfoPath works *really* well with...

- SharePoint Portal Server, Microsoft's new collaboration platform. All I can really say about this is just install it. Just install it and see what you can do. It's freaking amazing.

So - more to come as I continue digging around in the platforms and seeing what I can turn up that's new and cool for developers.


Comments (5)
  1. I have a lot of respect for your posts on JOS. Looking forward to your perpective here as well.

  2. Bluto says:

    … attaching .Net assemblies to documents, creating Smart Documents, which is to say, the next genration of viruses.

    "Office" as a "development" platform is a "bad idea," although I know it’s your job to make people think it’s a "good idea."

    MSOffice-based applications tend to be very fragile, in the real world, and often very poorly designed and maintained.

  3. Peter Torr says:

    You can read more about the VSTO security model here:

    And for my opinions on Office OM and viruses, check out:

  4. Tarjei T. Jensen says:

    I’m not sure that your customers idea of Office developement and Microsofts idea of the same converges.

    Microsoft seems to be focused on developing office applications outside of office while we seems to want to use VBA inside office.

    VBA is cool because we can do a lot without typing us to death. It would be a good idea to enhance the office objects so that life with VBA would become easier.

    Documentation for office is not particularly great if you are breaking into the subject and need to understand what is going on.

    Thank God for the MVPs!


  5. Ouch, that last post dated Tarjei. VBA is on the road to a slow death. Get on the VSTO bandwagon or eventually get left behind.

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