For those of you not familiar with Virtual Labs, they are a great way to try out technology without having to install a bunch of stuff or download a VPC. As Robert likes to say, “Virtual Labs = Free Training:).” I just came across these Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) 2008 labs. Haven’t tried em myself, but they are on my TODO list!
UPDATE: I just went through these labs. To give you a little history, I am guilty of being one of those “Office Development, that’s not for real programmers” snobs in a former life. The last time I actually did any work with VSTO was with the very first version. I gave up on VSTO because I just wasn’t convinced. As an evangelist, you really have to believe in the technology you “evangelize” otherwise people see right through you. Since the first time I saw VSTO 2008 with Office 2007 presented (by Reza Chitsaz) I thought to myself “Wow, I think this VSTO thing is finally coming together.” I’m a little wacky when it comes to technology. I get really excited by it. I even called my manager David that day and explained to him that I finally “got” Office Dev and that I would actually consider doing it if I were still doing “real work.” I always joke that evangelism isn’t real work because I don’t actually build real applications for a living anymore. Since my epiphany, I have seen Joel do quite a few VSTO 2008 / Office 2007 presentations. I have continued to “believe.” However, I had never actually given VSTO 2008 a test drive. Well, I am glad I did. I’m about to say something I thought I would NEVER say. Office Dev is pretty cool! There, I said it.
If you still don’t “believe” in Office Dev, then I’m not going to change your mind with words. Hopefully, I have made you curious enough to at least give it a test drive yourself. Does Office Dev eliminate the need to build web or standalone desktop apps? Heck no, but now that I “get it” and now that VSTO 2008 / Office 2007 give you the features that make it worthwhile, there are so many scenarios for which I would consider solving with a VSTO 2008 solution.
The last lab (part 4) is all about building SharePoint workflows with VSTO 2008. Now, I have never built a workflow for SharePoint using Visual Studio 2005, but I’ve seen Robert do it. It’s quite a bit of work . There are like 15 or so laborious steps. I think people who have built workflows for SharePoint using Visual Studio 2005 will be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is in Visual Studio 2008. It’s as simple as:
1. Create workflow project
2. Design/Code the workflow
3. Press F5 to debug.
Anyway, VSTO rant over.