Integrating business systems with Office and SharePoint

I have blogged in the past about Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) being part of Visual Studio 2008 Professional so that all developers who use VS Pro can use these tools to target Office as a smart client application platform.


Most large scale line of business systems like ERP and CRM struggle for broad user adoption whether they are part of a custom application or packaged software from an ISV.  In order to help businesses get the value out of these systems, we provided in Visual Studio 2008 the tools to deliver these applications directly in the client and server tools that most users know best – Office and SharePoint.


Here at Microsoft, we use Siebel for managing CRM.  Until we integrated Siebel with Outlook and SharePoint, it just wasn’t delivering the value that a CRM system should.  With the integrated system, sales people can easily manage accounts & prospects via Outlook and the whole company can search against Siebel information using our intranet powered by SharePoint.  Now that’s improved information access. We have lots of other examples too, like our quarterly business management tool integrated with Excel, promotion management tool for SAP built in SharePoint, and our SharePoint, Word & InfoPath based procurement system for SAP.  By connecting our business applications into Office and SharePoint, we get more value out of all three.  Nothing beats unlocking this kind of latent value to drive adoption of your new applications.


If these kinds of applications sound interesting, I encourage you to attend the Office Developer Conference, Feb 11-13 in San Jose.  We’re going to have a lot of new demos, and release new guidance that shows you step by step how to build these kinds of composite business applications.  Click here for more details. 



Comments (16)

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  1. Mark Gordon says:

    Hi Soma,

    This is interesting …

    "Here at Microsoft, we use Siebel for managing CRM.  Until we integrated Siebel with Outlook and SharePoint, it just wasn’t delivering the value that a CRM system should.  "

    We feel the same way about Visual Studio… Until it has a true data centric langauge like FoxPro and native data binding it just is not delivering the value a true software development environment should.



  2. Vivek says:

    Hi Soma,

    Thanks for sharing the information. Here is a FAQ from the


    The SharePoint conference is primarily intended for those in IT who use, deploy, and configure SharePoint. If you are focused on SharePoint deployment, or want to expand your skills in this area, you should attend the SharePoint Conference. However, if you are a SharePoint developer you should attend Office System Developer Conference.


    I am a developer and this information was not provided to me at the time when I was registering for the SharePoint conference (so enthusiastically!). Now I am totally disappointed to know that if I am a developer I should attend Office System Developer Conference. What can I do?

    Thanks for any pointers!

  3. Somasegar says:

    Hi Vivek,

    Sorry for any confusion.  For anyone who feels they should have registered for ODC instead of SPC because of their development focus, we can arrange a registration transfer. Please send an email to the following addresses and request a  registration transfer:


  4. Flannigan says:

    Hey Somasegar,

    Is there a reason Microsoft could not create a namespace built upon the VFP command and function language contructs to access SQL Server similar to how FoxPro accessed DBF files?

    That would greatly assist us and complete the Visual Studio Development Environment. I realize there is a VFP namespace on the MSDN FoxPro website but it is not offically supported.  I am confused why Microsoft would not want to implement this capability.

    Thanks in advance for the reply,

    Brian Flannigan

  5. Soma Somasegar (VP, dev div) posted an interesting post on Office development recently. Here’s the link:

  6. Soma Somasegar (VP, dev div) posted an interesting post on Office development recently. Here's the

  7. Alan Griver says:

    Hey Brian,

    Just to be clear, Fox’s functions do not access SQL Server. As you know, they access a cursor (typically created with a remote view) that can be written back to SQL Server via functions like TableUpdate(). VFP uses the model of moving anything into a cursor (even DBF data) and working on that. Similarly, .NET does that using objects. So, ADO.NET provides Datasets that act like VFP cursors and can update back to the back end via a method call. Linq to SQL also provides a similar model – you create the “view” (objects in Linq to SQL) that model the database, work on those objects and have the context update at the end.

    So, the approach is similar – you move the data into a local “thing” and work on that “thing”. In VFP that is a cursor, in .NET it is a set of objects.

  8. Vivek says:

    Hi Somasegar,

    I have been desperately trying to transfer my registration from SPC to ODC with no luck. I have tried emailing the and this is what I received:

    — begin —

    Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, the registration process for the March event is completely separate from the February ODC registration. We only have access to the ODC registration site. Please create a new registration for this event at If you do not wish to attend the event in March, please cancel that registration. Let me know if you have any further questions.

    Best Regards,


    Office System Developer Conference 2008

    — end —

    I have also tried requesting our regional Microsoft representative with no luck. Should not there be any way to transfer the registration? I am very disappointed that I will be missing a great conference and on top of it I have to forfeit 100% of my SPC registration fee.


  9. khawara says:

    Hi Vivek,

    sorry about that – we sent instructions yesterday to honor any such requests. Please contact me directly (khawar.ahmed [at] and I’ll get this sorted out for you. We have done such transfers and will do any if requested.

    – Khawar

  10. Flannigan says:

    Hey Somasegar,

    Thank you for the reply and giving me an opportunity to voice my opinion.  Of course you are correct FoxPro accesses SQL and stores data into cursors. With Visual Studio there seems to be room for improvement when accessing data in middle tier business objects. Many of the calculations that occur in this layer are row based not set based at least in the applications that I develop.

    While you can perform row based calculation in Visual Studio with table adapters and/or data readers there seems to be alot more coding and overhead involved then there really needs to be. There are numerous times I wish I could create a cursor from a select statement and had a simple scan function with a for clause, seek/locate statement and scatter to object command to work with.  These functions alone would reduce alot of code.

    I understand Visual Studio maps data and row into objects and in some cases it makes coding easy however there are other times I would perfer if VS treated data more along the lines of a cursor not an object so we could perform our calculations and then dispose of the cursor when finished.

    Having both methods of handling data would be the best of both worlds.

    Thanks again sir for your time.

    Brian Flannigan

  11. Vivek says:

    Thanks Soma and Khawar!

    An ODC representative contacted me personally and informed me that they can honor my request.

    ooof…I am so relieved now…off to San Jose!

  12. Somasegar says:


    I am glad we sorted it out.  Hopefully the conference will be both informative and fun.


  13. One thing is for sure, using Visual Studio Tools for Office in the new Visual Studio 2008 environment

  14. Owner Blog says:

    One thing is for sure, using Visual Studio Tools for Office in the new Visual Studio 2008 environment

  15. Andrew W says:

    Whilst this is most welcome for people using the Professional edition I am beginning to wonder what incentive there is to continue with the VSTS Developer edition. I purchased this + msdn premium under a 3yr open value agreement and opted for TSDev as this included both the Mobile Device Support and Office Development ability which were not at the time available in Professional. Both are now available in Professional. At the other end of the scale Team Suite has acquired the Database role and Expression Suite. Most of my development is now around WPF and I like the improvements to VS2008 in this area. The Code analysis and additional profiling functionality is very useful. However again the Expression offering is identical in both Professional and TSDev. I increasingly do more TDD and could use some of the functinality that is in the Test role edition and increasingly offerings like MBUnit + Rhinomocks look more attractive. When I come to renew what incentive is there to keep the Dev option it seems that the professional edition gives me what I need (although I would miss profiling) and I can use the money saved to upgrade to the Expression Suite? Do you see the Team roles adapting?

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