Read an Excerpt
The target audience for Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) is the "professional developer." The term "professional developer" has several meanings, but the most agreed-upon definition we've heard is that it is someone who gets paid to write code. In other words, it's their primary job. It's not the departmental developer: the accountant who writes Excel macros as part of his accounting tasks or the word processing operator who customizes Word to increase her productivity. Instead, it is the .Net developer who might be interested in using Office as a development platform.
Prior to joining Microsoft, we both worked as VBA developers, customizing Office applications, and were very much interested in learning about managed code. We don't think that we are unique in that respect. There are millions of VBA developers today, many of whom are interested in learning about this next generation of Office development. Current books and documentation for VSTO are typically not written with the VBA developer in mind—it's assumed that the developer is familiar with Visual Studio, object-oriented programming, and the .NET Framework. The focus is (understandably) more on the features of VSTO, and how to work with the hefty Office object models.
We wanted to write a book for the VBA developer audience, and while you might not be familiar with .NET programming, this is where you have an advantage. You already are an Office developer who most likely has a lot of experience with manipulating the Office object models, as well as possessing power-user knowledge of the application. We can't think of a better environment to learn about managed code than within the context of something youare already familiar with: Office development.
VSTO brings Office development to the .NET world, and it has both disadvantages and advantages over using VBA. There are some amazing things you can do to customize Word, Excel. and Outlook with relative ease using VSTO (e.g., creating a customized task pane, adding smart tags to a document, and binding objects on a document to a data source). With the VSTO 2005 SE, you can create add-ins for six Office applications, customize the new ribbon UI feature of Microsoft Office 2007, and create application-level custom task panes.
We've had the advantage of working with the folks who designed, coded, tested, and documented VSTO, all of whom we have learned a great deal from. We've had an insider view of VSTO, and we hope to convey that information to you in an understandable and enjoyable manner.