Tools to help developers build solutions for Office 2007

Over the last decade or even longer, Microsoft Office has provided the types of rich, robust software applications that information workers needed to do their jobs.  Microsoft Office began by providing tools that enabled users to create and manage their documents, spreadsheets and databases, and has since continued to evolve to meet the increasing needs of information workers.  Where it grew to empower users with the ability to use VBA to customize their user experience and build custom applications, it has grown yet again into a true development platform upon which professional developers can build scalable, line-of-business, people-ready business applications. 


We continue that journey with the release of the 2007 Microsoft Office system.  The 2007 Office system will be particularly interesting to professional developers because they can build vertical business applications that bridge the gap between their company’s variety of disparate back end data sources and the business needs of their information workers. Microsoft Duet is a prime example of an Office business application, as it demonstrates how the 2007 Office system can be used to surface and work with SAP data.


The demands placed upon developers have grown and they are now tasked, more than ever before, with developing highly intuitive, business focused solutions all in a short amount of time.  We delivered Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) to enable developers build Microsoft Office-based solutions. VSTO 2003 introduced the notion of managed code solutions based on Microsoft Office, and VSTO 2005 provided developers with a host of features they needed to build the types of solutions their users required.


Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (VSTO 2005 SE) expands the developer’s palette by providing the means to build scalable 2007 Office system-based add-in solutions within the professional development environment of Visual Studio 2005. Developers can use VSTO 2005 SE to build solutions that take advantage of key 2007 Office system features, such as the ribbon, custom task panes and Outlook form regions. They can also use VSTO 2005 SE to build Microsoft Office business applications. In fact, the Office team used VSTO to build parts of Microsoft Duet.



Comments (12)

  1. rohit nadig says:

    Hi Soma,

    On a slightly unrelated note, I have a suggestion for you.

    Developer tools are one of the most important elements in the software stack to entice open source developers.

    If Microsoft made a "lite" version of all its developers tools free of cost, and shipped it with  the windows platform, I belv you will woo a lot of the open source hackers onto the Microsoft platform. Sure, MS has university relations and gives away software to universities, but there are plenty of hackers out there that want to write code.

    I am a "chip design engineer" myself, and there are many times I hoped that the MS platform would bridge the gap with linux w.r.t developer tools by offering a stack of open source dev tools on windows.

    Also, the shell needs a much more powerful interface (like the unix shell) so developers can harness the full power of the windows platform.

    By developers I mean people that develop computer programs that are different from your average windows app.

    I run simulations that run for weeks, and sometimes months. The results of the simulation is parsed by a perl script and a .csv file is written out. I then email the .csv file to my outlook account (from linux) and use Excel to analyze the data.

    I dont know if I will ever trust a windows machine to run my 4 week simulation (with fear of a blue screen), but my life would be simpler if I can mount a unix disk onto my laptop and run a "script" written in python or perl to generate an excel chart.

    MS dev tools are focussed on your typical windows app (cute windows and lotsa clikkity clikkity fun). Not all of us live in that domain.


    -Rohit (

  2. David Berg says:


    Please check out the free Express editions of Microsft Visual Studio at

    Free, lightweight, easy-to-use, and easy-to-learn tools for the hobbyist, novice, and student developer.

    David Berg (

  3. S.Somasegar says:

    Thanks Rohit for hte feedback.

    There are a couple of things I want to highlight.

    1)  I am assuming you are aware that starting VS 2005, we do have a set of Visual Studio Express products  that are available for free for our customers to download.

    2)  Windows PowerShell is a very powerful shell scripting langauge that will be available for both developers and IT Pros to fully utilize the power of the shell.  Check out for more information here on PowerShell.

    3)  Ensuring that CLR is a great platform for dynamic languages in a priority for us.  As you know, we have IronPython running already and we hope to do more here with time.


  4. Nektar says:

    VS Express is there but no support for Office is present in it.

    Writing addins for Office is not as easy as it could have been. You need a heavy professional development tool set to do it. The languages used are a mess since the convoluted and difficult to learn COM and C++ languages were heavily involved all these years. Even now with the managed world you need to buy VS Professional to write a simple Office Extention.

    Even simple scripting in Office has issues. VBA macroes are locked down due to security issues. Why is VBA still around anyway? Or at least why isn’t the macro writing experienced improved with a more advanced language? If you are so happy to provide support for dynamic languages then why not for Office? Why not Python for Office?

    Customizing the Office ui is also very difficult. Look at Firefox and the ease by which one could aulter the interface using XUL and change it to suite his needs. Why not for Office? Creating custom Outlook forms is a great difficulty. You need to use VB Script? Are you serious? Why not a better Office developer story?

    If you need to find addins for Office where do you go? Where is the community site where Office macroes and add-ins are advertized and where one can get sample macroes or add-ins for free? After all, isn’t that the value proposition of Office compared to other offerings: Its great programmability story. Where is that? Again look at Firefox. A great number of extentions, of themes, of skins, etc. Why not for Office? Doesn’t Office need such a warm developer community around it? Why can’t I improve my Office functionality easily?

    Why does it appear that developers have found no innovations to be done for the end-users in Office all these years? Is it perhaps because Microsoft’s developer story is only directed towards businesses and professional developers?

    Everyone can write a simple web site but really few know that Office can even be customized. And even if they knew, it would have been really hard for them to start learning and to actually write macroes, let alone Office-based applications.

  5. ekampf 2.0 says:

    Here is an interesting list of 30 Lessons From an Early-Stage Startup. I fond the following gem kinda

  6. ekampf 2.0 says:

    Here is an interesting list of 30 Lessons From an Early-Stage Startup. I fond the following gem kinda

  7. We have arrived! Well, after much speculation and conjecture, we’ve arrived at one of those big product

  8. Download details Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System Download details

  9. Rohit Nadig says:

    Hi Soma,

    I read this note about the Vista build system.

    It takes about 15 hours (7pm previous night to 3:00pm in the afternoon the next day).

    My argument is that build + regressions in ANY system should not take more than 6 hours. For a product like Vista, the build should NOT take longer than 6 hours for the following reasons:

     1. Engineers can checkin code upto midnight

     2. Every morning, the managers that manage the product can review the status of the product

    When we were designing the Pentium-4 processor, we automated all the "health checks" to run in 5-8 hours by parallelizing the job on a pool of high end compute nodes. It was not trivial, but the results were amazing. It gave the senior managers a greater visibility into the status of the project EVERY morning at 8:00am.


    Rohit (rohit dot nadig atttt gmail dot com)

  10. I’ve been so busy lately that I forgot to announce the project I’ve been working on for the last 3 months

  11. Hi Soma,

    I second Rohit for VS Express versions of Office and I petition a VS Express for Mobile, the first is sorely needed, the second would be "cool" to have ….

  12. Hi Soma,

    I second Rohit for VS Express versions of Office and I petition a VS Express for Mobile, the first is sorely needed, the second would be "cool" to have ….

    Anyhow, the dev division is doing an incredibly good job, congrats !!