Per poter sviluppare in maniera efficace un'applicazione con il pattern OBA occorrono strumenti di sviluppo produttivi ed integrati con le componenti ed i servizi della piattaforma. Con la nuova versione di Visual Studio "Orcas" avremo disponibili anche una nuova versione di VSTO (Visual Tools for Office), con interessanti novità e miglioramenti per lo sviluppo di componenti OBA. In particolare per lo sviluppo lato server l'integrazione con la pubblicazione ed il ddebug di workflow per Sharepoint sarà significativamente migliorata e sarà possibile il deployment e l'avvio in debug di un workflo direttamente da Vissual Studio attraverso uno specifico Wizard, evitando la preparazione manuale dei file xml di future e workflow . Anche per  lo sviluppo delle componenti client e per l'estensione delle interfacce client di Office ampie novità, dalla possibilità di gestire con più semplicità il deployment con il pieno supporto per clickonce, la possibilità di gestire il databinding sui custom control di Word in maniera integrata con Visual Studio, i tool grafici per gestire le modifiche dei Ribbon e lo sviluppo di custom form per outlook, supporto per l'interobilità tra VBA e codice managed VSTO .

 Per una panoramica sulle funzionalità client del VSTO di Orcas suggerisco il seguente articolo:

italiano: http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/07/06/VSTO/default.aspx?loc=it

inglese: http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/07/06/VSTO/default.aspx?loc=en

Di seguito l'elenco più dettagliato delle principali funzionalità estratte dal documento msdn di overview di Visual Studio "Orcas":

  • Increased Support for Office 2003 and 2007 Applications: There is additional add-in support for many Office applications including the 2003 versions of Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Visio, and the 2007 versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Visio, InfoPath, and Outlook. This new support expands the range and variety of solutions developers can build, providing them with greater opportunities to develop customized Office-based solutions using VSTO.

 

  •  Improved Deployment: Deployment was one of the areas that we really wanted to improve in this version of VSTO, and we've done so by implementing support for ClickOnce deployment. This will significantly improve the deployment experience, making it easier to develop, deploy and secure Office-based solutions locally or on a corporate network.

 

  • New Outlook Development Tools: This release enables developers to create and deploy custom Outlook ‘form regions' quickly and easily. (The Outlook form region is a new feature that enables developers to customize the surface of an Outlook item (such as a contact page, meeting request or a mail message) with controls that can be bound to enterprise data sources.) Using Visual Studio's Windows Form designer, developers can easily create a custom form region and populate it by dragging and dropping controls onto its surface. They can then deploy it either as an aligned form region (i.e., aligning it to other native form regions within Outlook) or as a replacement for a given native form region.

 

  • Support for creating Smart Documents: Word 2007's new "content controls" enable developers to improve the functionality and look and feel of their documents. They can incorporate these controls into the document by dragging and dropping them on to the document surface. They can then bind them to enterprise data sources, lock them for editing, or set various other properties such as hide and show. In addition, there is now support for the new Office XML-based file formats.

 

  •  Support for Interoperability between VBA and VSTO: Based on popular demand for VBA applications to interact with VSTO customizations, we've added VBA/VSTO interoperability support that enables developers to access VSTO add-ins from VBA application code. They can now use this feature to create add-ins that they then call programmatically from their VBA code. This is a significant first step towards the integration of VBA and VSTO.

 

  • SharePoint workflow support:SharePoint workflow encompasses processes for creating, managing and deploying documents within SharePoint. The steps to create SharePoint workflow previously have been cumbersome and difficult. This version of VSTO enables developers to create SharePoint workflow easily and quickly, write custom code within the individual processes, and then deploy that custom workflow to the enterprise.

 

  • Support for customizing the Office Ribbon: VSTO 2005 SE enabled developers to customize the ribbon in native XML. The native XML developer experience persists in this release also, but they can now use the new Visual Ribbon designer to create new or customize existing ribbons. It's as easy as dragging and dropping controls from the Ribbon Designer Toolbar onto the ribbon. We'll add support for additional controls in future releases, so look out for more functionality as we near RTM. The Visual Ribbon designer is a great tool that makes the process of ribbon customization quick and straightforward.

 

  • Office 2003 and 2007 parity:  One of the key features for this release is the ability to create custom applications for Office 2003 and 2007. We've added many parity features to this release, such as data-binding, the ability to create actions pane and add dynamic controls, and support for smart tags just to name a few.

 

  • Support for migrating VSTO projects forward: Many of our customers requested the ability to migrate VSTO projects across the different versions of VSTO. The new project migration tool enables developers to migrate projects they've built in previous versions of VSTO to newer releases of VSTO, enabling them to reuse code as opposed to rewriting it completely from scratch. This is a significant feature because it will enable developers to migrate across product versions as well as support customizations across multiple Office releases.