The Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Applications (VSTA) SDK ships with a complete set of conceptual articles, code samples and step by step instructions to help you become productive with VSTA quickly. When you install the Visual Studio 2005 SDK, and the VSTA help collection is added to the Visual Studio 2005 help collection. To find the VSTA help collection:

  1. Open Visual Studio 2005.
  2. Click Help, and then click Contents.
  3. Expand the Visual Studio SDK node, and then expand the Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Applications node.

The Getting Started section is a great place to become familiar with VSTA. For instance, the first thing you need to do is install VSTA. For step by step instructions on how to do this, refer to the topic named How to: Install Visual Studio Tools for Applications. Next, consider reviewing Overview of Integrating Visual Studio Tools for Applications for a description of each major task you need to accomplish to incorporate VSTA into your application. These tasks include:

  • Creating Proxies.
  • Registering the Host Application.
  • Creating Project Templates.
  • Loading and Unloading Add-ins.
  • Incorporating the Integrated Development Environment.
  • Creating In-Process Hosts.
  • Setup and Deployment.

The table of contents provides a topic node for each major task area. The ordering of these topic nodes does suggest a recommended workflow, but you can approach each major task in any order you want. The pre-requisites for accomplishing each task are clearly documented.

Prefer a demonstration? The VSTA SDK ships with a set of sample applications that apply all of the concepts discussed in the help content. To learn more about what these samples demonstrate, where to find them, and how to use them, refer to the ShapeApp Samples node of the VSTA SDK.


In some cases you might want to locate code in the sample application that accomplishes a specific task like loading add-ins or getting the IDE to start. It might be hard to isolate all the relevant code snippets and configurations required to accomplish these specific tasks. VSTA documentation answers this concern by providing detailed walkthroughs that guide you through the exact steps required to create specific features in the sample applications. You can find walkthroughs beneath each major task node in the VSTA help collection. For instance, to go through the steps required to load and unload add-ins in the managed version of the sample application, refer to Walkthrough: Modifying a Managed Application to Load Add-ins beneath the Loading and Unloading Add-ins node.


Once you are up and running and in the middle of your integration effort, you can find loads of API descriptions in the Reference for Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Applications node.

Norm Estabrook
Programming Writer


The VSTA SDK is installed as part of the Visual Studio SDK.  Download VSTA from and see how easy it is to enable application customizations in your solutions today.