Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Visual Studio Tools for Office Second Edition

Technically speaking, VSTO 2005 SE is not really the second edition of VSTO. While VSTO 2005 is an independent version of Visual Studio 2005, VSTO SE is more of an add-on to different editions of Visual Studio. For example, VSTO 2005 SE can be installed on top of VSTO 2005. In addition, VSTO SE doesn't really cover all VSTO features. Noticeably, document level customization and action pane are not available in SE. On the other hand, it does add support for Custom Task Panes and Ribbons. And here is an decent overview of the mechanics of VSTO (Outlook is used as an example, but I imagine it should be almost identical for other office products). To my surprise, VSTO still works its way through the good (bad? evil?) old COM interfaces (IDTExtensibility2, etc), with AddInLoader.DLL wraps around managed code. It seems .NET is not treated as a first class citizen even in Office 2007 (to be fair, VSTO does add some nice touches of the managed world, such as added security with separate AppDomain).