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Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007: VSTO for Excel, Word, and Outlook [Paperback]

Eric Carter , Eric Lippert
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 6, 2009 0321533216 978-0321533210 1

Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007: VSTO for Excel, Word, and Outlook is the definitive book on VSTO 2008 programming, written by the inventors of the technology. VSTO is a set of tools that allows professional developers to use the full power of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework to program against Microsoft Office 2007.


This book delivers in one place all the information you need to succeed using VSTO to program against Word 2007, Excel 2007, and Outlook 2007, and provides the necessary background to customize Visio 2007, Publisher 2007, and PowerPoint 2007. It introduces the Office 2007 object models, covers the most commonly used objects in those object models, and will help you avoid the pitfalls caused by the COM origins of the Office object models. Developers who wish to program against Office 2003 should consult Carter and Lippert’s previous book, Visual Studio Tools for Office.


In VSTO 2008, you can build add-ins for all the major Office 2007 applications, build application-level custom task panes, customize the new Office Ribbon, modify Outlook’s user interface using Form Regions, and easily deploy everything you build using ClickOnce.


Carter and Lippert cover their subject matter with deft insight into the needs of .NET developers learning VSTO, based on the deep knowledge that comes from the authors’ unique perspective of living and breathing VSTO for the past six years. This book 

  • Explains the architecture of Microsoft Office programming and introduces the object models
  • Covers the main ways Office applications are customized and extended
  • Explores the ways of customizing Excel, Word, and Outlook, and plumbs the depths of programming with their events and
    object models
  • Introduces the VSTO programming model
  • Teaches how to use Windows Forms and WPF in VSTO and how to work with the Document Actions Pane and application-level task panes
  • Delves into VSTO data programming and server data scenarios
  • Teaches ClickOnce VSTO deployment

This is the one book you need to succeed in programming against Office 2007.

C# and Visual Basic .NET Code samples for download can be found here:

Frequently Bought Together

Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007: VSTO for Excel, Word, and Outlook + Professional Excel Development: The Definitive Guide to Developing Applications Using Microsoft Excel, VBA, and .NET (2nd Edition)
Price for both: $81.52

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007


“Visual Studio Tools for Office has always been one of my favorite technologies to come out of Microsoft. There are millions of people who use Office applications all day, every day; with VSTO, you can create applications for them. Eric Carter and Eric Lippert helped create VSTO, so they know as much about it as anybody, making this book a must-have. After reading it, you’ll know everything needed to begin building solutions that take advantage of the .NET Framework features, in the UI your users are familiar with.”

–Robert Green, senior consultant, MCW Technologies


“With the application development community so focused on the Smart Client revolution, a book that covers VSTO from A to Z is both important and necessary. This book lives up to big expectations. It is thorough, has tons of example code, and covers Office programming in general terms–topics that can be foreign to the seasoned .NET developer who has focused on ASP.NET applications for years. Congratulations to Eric Lippert and Eric Carter for such a valuable work!”

–Tim Huckaby, CEO, InterKnowlogy; Microsoft Regional Director


“Eric Carter and Eric Lippert really get it. Professional programmers will love the rich power of Visual Studio and .NET, along with the ability to tap into Office programmability. This book walks you through programming Excel, Word, and Outlook solutions.”

–Vernon W. Hui, test lead, Microsoft Corporation


“This book is both a learning tool and a reference book, with a richness of tables containing object model objects and their properties, methods, and events. I would recommend it to anyone considering doing Office development using the .NET Framework; especially people interested in VSTO programming.”

–Rufus Littlefield, software design engineer/tester, Microsoft Corporation


“This book will help Office .NET Developers optimize their work. It goes beyond providing an introduction to VSTO and the object models of Word, Excel, and Outlook. The overview of other technologies available for interacting with Office assist in analyzing how to best approach any Office project. In addition, the authors’ insights into the design of this RAD tool make it possible to get the most out of VSTO applications.”

–Cindy Meister, Microsoft MVP for VSTO, author of Word Programmierung, Das Handbuch


“This book is an in-depth, expert, and definitive guide to programming using Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007. It is a must-have book for anyone doing Office development.”

–Siew Moi Khor, programmer/writer, Microsoft Corporation


“We don’t buy technical books for light reading, we buy them as a resource for developing a solution. This book is an excellent resource for someone getting started with Smart Client development. For example, it is common to hear a comment along the lines of, ‘It is easy to manipulate the Task Pane in Office 2007 using VSTO 2008,’ but until you see something like the example at the start of Chapter 14, it is hard to put ‘easy’ into perspective.


“This is a thorough book that covers everything from calling Office applications from your application, to building applications that are Smart Documents. It allows the traditional Windows developer to really leverage the power of Office 2007.”

–Bill Sheldon, principal engineer, InterKnowlogy; MVP


“Eric Carter and Eric Lippert have been the driving force behind Office development and Visual Studio Tools for Office. The depth of their knowledge and understanding of VSTO and Office is evident in this book. Professional developers architecting enterprise solutions using VSTO 2008 and Office system 2007 now have a new weapon in their technical arsenal.”

–Paul Stubbs, program manager, Microsoft Corporation


“This book, also known as ‘The Bible of VSTO,’ has been rewritten for Office 2007 and I was delighted to read the sections on new VSTO features that were added in Visual Studio 2008. It explains how the VSTO team hid the plumbing and cumbersome coding tasks to allow you to be more productive and to just create excellent business applications. New or experienced in Office development, you will want to add this book to your library!”

–Maarten van Stam, Microsoft MVP, Visual Developer, VSTO,


“This book covers all of the ins and outs of programming with Visual Studio Tools for Office in a clear and concise way. Given the authors’ exhaustive experiences with this subject, you can’t get a more authoritative description of VSTO than this book!”

–Paul Vick, principal architect, Microsoft Corporation

About the Author

Eric Carter is a development manager on the Visual Studio team at Microsoft. He helped invent, design, and implement many of the features that are in VSTO today. Previously at Microsoft he worked on Visual Studio for Applications, the Visual Studio Macros IDE, and Visual Basic for Applications for Office 2000 and Office 2003.


Eric Lippert’s primary focus during his twelve years at Microsoft has been on improving the lives of developers by designing and implementing useful programming languages and development tools. He has worked on the Windows Scripting family of technologies, Visual Studio Tools for Office, and, most recently, on the C# compiler team.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 1120 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (March 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321533216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321533210
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.5 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
One of the problems with previous books about .Net programming for Office is that they tended to get bogged down discussing differences between versions of Office, differences between versions of Visual Studio Tools for Office, and differences betwee C# and VB.Net. This often left comparatively little room for thoughtful discussion of fundamental principles and advanced concepts.

In Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007: VSTO for Excel, Word, and Outlook, authors Eric Carter and Eric Lippert avoid this problem by focusing on one version of Office (2007), one version of VSTO (2008), and one language (C#). The result is a highly readable book that takes you from zero to sixty (to use some car lingo) in seconds flat.

Part I discusses the special challenges of using managed code to control still-COM-based Office applications. The nice thing about this discussion is that it gets all the bad news out of the way right in the beginning, and it helps you see that the bad news isn't all that bad, and in any case there's surprisingly little of it. After less than 90 pages, you feel very well grounded in the fundamentals of .Net-to-Office interoperability. The discussion of interfaces, delegates, and events on Pages 44-49 is so valuable that it justifies the price of the book all by itself. That discussion is followed by another incredibly valuable discussion of three types of Office solutions, which discussion truly sets the stage for the rest of the book.

And get this: The rest of the book keeps right on delivering value.

Part II provides three chapters apiece on Excel, Word, and Outlook.The first chapter on each application addresses special considerations when interoperating with that application.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!! Simply Awesome!!!! March 26, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is awesome. It covers everything you need to know to develop professional level VSTO applications with Visual Studio 2008.

I am glad this book was written using C# as a programming language. In the past VBA left a lot to be desired, enough so that I never took Office programming serious at all. When 2003 came out it sparked my interest, but I ran into enough pain right out of the box to drop it fast. This book has renewed my hope that I can start taking Office application seriously. By using C# the authors reaffirmed this is not VBA anymore. Had I browsed this book and found it to be written in VB.NET I would not have given Office 2007 VSTO another shot, because I would have thought the toolset was still lost in the VBA world.

For VB'ers... the authors do point out the differences in VB and C# where appropriate, they just do not provide code samples of each.

There are still a lot of traces of the crazy COM programming interfaces in the interops, but this book does a great job of pointing them out and shows you how to work with them. The "missing" and "ref missing" make the most elegant code look psychotic. It will be nice to have the C# 4.0 named and optional arguments feature to remedy the "missing" and "ref missing" messes.

The one complaint I have is about the code library that goes along with the book. There isn't one. The only thing made available is word documents that have the code listings from the Chapters cut and pasted from the book's manuscript.

All in all I do not think anyone developing VSTO should be without this book, and those that aren't developing VSTO should buy the book to educate themselves about the value the technology now provides.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good if You've never used VSTO before July 10, 2009
I had been using VSTO 3.0 for a few weeks and wanted to gain more of an expert knowledge, so that I could optimize performance in our application. I already had a working knowledge of VSTO, and this book really did not help. I believe it is better targeted towards people who are unfamiliar with the technology. Just keep that in mind before purchase. The quality is fairly good, and it's an easy read, it just didn't have the advanced knowledge I was looking for.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best VSTO book there is so far... AND its C#... November 12, 2009
I know quite a lot about Excel VBA and decided to get mt feet wet in the VSTO side of things. This looked like quite a sensible thing to do imo since , although VBA is not going to be dropped by MS, it's not going to be developed as much (if any) in the future.

I have to say, I think the transition is much harder than i expected. Why? Well looking at the examples I've found on the web / other VSTO books everything is either ambiguous or hard to see the woods for the trees. This is something I believe that this book rectifies.

It's simply the best VSTO book I've seen, and its with C# - double bonus for me! Most books in this area are VB. Some of these other books I've looked at were with utter disbelief! This book is sitting in the top drawer and has about 95% of what you'll need.
It doesn't cover the Excel VBA model in great detail. I beleieve this to actually be a good thing. Covering this would 1. double the size of the book. 2. Take the focus away from what its trying to achieve - actually using VSTO. (BTW, the actual model content that is included is, what I believe, the correct content to get you started to a decent developers level. You're not going to be able to code hardcore spreadsheets, but its a step in the right direction.)

It covers more than Excel (word and outlook are included), so i really skipped those sections more or less. Something that's easily done with this book due to its layout.

The only bad thing I would say about this book is that it points out how remarkably good VSTO actually is!! The 'hard' parts of Excel VBA development (I'm talking smart tags, ribbon modifications and the likes) are made rediculously easy. After being exposed to the power of office development with .NET, going back to a VBA environment would bring tears to a glass eye! :)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a well designed/thoughfully laid out book.
The author has put so much useless material in this book it loses focus very quickly and fails to grab a readers attention. A very unorganized book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jesse
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep up
Impossible to keep up with this stuff 2010 now everything is Cloud?
It was as advertised, need updated to cloud or next release!
Published 15 months ago by Emil H
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Ideas and as a Reference, but Tedious to Read
Good for flipping through for new ideas and as a reference, but with too much redundant detail and superfluous code on VSTO features. Read more
Published on June 18, 2012 by James Igoe
2.0 out of 5 stars poor explanation on Excel event inplementation
I am an experienced Excel vba programmer. I was very surprised to find out that in C# vsto that you have to program every Excel event. Read more
Published on April 21, 2012 by qwerty_vba_er
1.0 out of 5 stars Strange book
Basically, it's a C# book how to integrate/extend the VBA technology into the VSTO framework. The trouble is it does not have the same comprehensive framework as any other even... Read more
Published on October 31, 2011 by C. Qu
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Reference Book
Great reference book -- enough that I bought both the paperback and kindle verions. It provides a ton of insight into VSTO tools and how to approach building VSTO add-ins. Read more
Published on March 14, 2011 by Nick
4.0 out of 5 stars Très bon
Le contenu est de qualité et les codes bien détaillés. Il ne faut pas par contre s'attendre à avoir des exemples d'applications business de A à... Read more
Published on July 20, 2010 by V. Isoz
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best software books I've read
This is one of the best software books I've read. Very clear and complete, without useless fluff. Excellent description of Office software automation in general, and the use of... Read more
Published on October 17, 2009 by P. J. Shapiro
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for novice VSTO users
I am new to VSTO and was hoping to find a resource with examples and best practices for extending Word documents and templates using this technology. Read more
Published on August 19, 2009 by D. Joel
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and complete introduction

I read that book as an introduction to Outlook programming. This book uses C# and Visual Studio 2008 for all the examples. Read more
Published on July 31, 2009 by Mona
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