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VSTO/VSTA Power Tools and Submitting Feedback on MS Products

VSTO/VSTA Power Tools and Submitting Feedback on MS Products

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Anyone who's been to any of my recent presentations knows that I'm a passionate advocate of developing on the Office platform. The release of VSTO v3 with VS2008 was a big step forward in making Office development a truly first-class .NET development experience with its support for customising the Ribbon, Outlook form regions and (probably most importantly) true click-once support for deployment and updating. Of course, for all the goodness that was included with the official VSTO v3 release, the team had other things they wanted to ship but couldn't given the time and dependency constraints. In the interim, they've shipped a suite of these extras as the Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for the Office System Power Tools v1.0.0.0 (catchy name, huh?).

From the docs:

The Power Tools v1.0 Toolset

There are nine tools in the first release of the VSTO Power Tools, including two runtime tools and seven design-time tools:

Tool Description Type of Tool
Open XML Package Editor A graphical treeview-based editor for examining and editing Open XML Package files (including Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents). Add-in to Visual Studio.
Ribbon IDs Tool Window A custom tool window that displays all re-usable built-in Office Ribbon IDs. Add-in to Visual Studio.
Office Custom UI Manager A set of classes for coordinating multiple instances of Ribbon, custom task pane, and custom form region objects. Runtime class library and sample source code.
Office Interop API Extensions A set of C# classes for handling parameterized properties and optional/named parameters, as well as for LINQ-enabling Office collection objects. Runtime class library.
SharePoint Feature Sweeper A GUI tool that cleans up unwanted SharePoint features from the developer's environment. Standalone Windows Forms application.
SharePoint Workflow Package Generator A tool to package a SharePoint workflow project so that it can be deployed. Scriptable command-line tool.
VSTO/VSTA Pipeline Verifier A GUI tool that reflects over custom pipeline assemblies to validate the complete VSTA pipeline. Standalone Windows Forms application.
VSTO Developer Cleaner A GUI tool that removes leftover build artifacts from the developer's computer. Standalone Windows Forms application.
VSTO Troubleshooter A diagnostic tool that examines a computer for the necessary prerequisites for running VSTO solutions. Standalone Windows Forms application.

Andrew Whitechappel has blogged about these tools here and here, and in particular talks about how to submit feedback on them via Microsoft Connect:

  1. Go to Microsoft Connect at http://connect.microsoft.com/default.aspx.
  2. Sign up or log in to the site.
  3. On the left menu, click Available Connections.
  4. On the next page, click Visual Studio and .NET Framework.
  5. On the next page, choose one of the following:
    To see if your issue already exists, click Start Here. In the Search Feedback box, search for the issue. If the issue does not exist, click Submit Feedback. On the next page, click Bug Submission Form or Suggestion Submission Form.
    -OR-
    To submit a bug or suggestion, click Submit a Bug or Submit a Suggestion.
  6. On the submission form, enter the required information. In the Description box, specify “VSTO/VSTA Power Tools”.
  7. When you are finished, click Submit.

This is great advice for submitting feedback/bugs/suggestions on all Microsoft products and technologies in general. Submissions from this tool go directly into the appropriate product teams' databases for triage and action. It's the best way to get your voice heard.