I am excited to announce that Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA) was released as an integrated component of the 2007 Office system earlier this week and is available to both Office developers and ISVs! 

 

As Microsoft's future direction in application extensibility, VSTA provides a powerful customization toolset for ISVs, their customers, and their partners. Leveraging Visual Studio and .NET to provide managed extensibility, VSTA enables innovative customization scenarios while offering new levels of security and control. VSTA accelerates and simplifies the development of tailored solutions, helping ISVs grow their partner ecosystems and extend their market reach.  By integrating VSTA into their applications, ISVs give their customers a managed environment for tailoring applications to specific business needs.  Within VSTA, multiple configuration options offer ISVs deep control over the customization experience, and new technologies make it possible to develop more reliable, version-resilient extensions.  You can think of it as the modern, scalable, and more secure version of VBA. 

 

This first release of VSTA makes numerous improvements over the VBA experience and includes many of the beloved VBA favorites.  Perhaps the feature most applauded by enterprise BDMs and SI’s is that VSTA customizations are seamlessly opened by any version of Visual Studio enabling professional developers to continue to enhance applications originally created by end user developers – a feature requested by many enterprises because applications often grow in sophistication over time.

 

A brief rundown of this feature packed release of VSTA includes:

 

       Leverages the innovative Visual Studio (VS) toolset

       Multi-language support – VB and C#

       Macro Recoding

       Windows Forms designer

       IntelliSense & Code Tasks

       End-user debugging features: breakpoints, watch/auto/locals windows

       Supports connected systems development

       Web services-based development

       Fully leverages the .NET Framework

       Running and debugging 32-bit and 64-bit add-ins

       Running partial trusted add-ins

       Client and Server programming

       Common VSTA/VSTO runtime architecture for seamless up-leveling of solutions

       Graduated host integration capabilities – “use what you need when you need it”

       Low barrier to entry – get started in about two days

       Add more functionality as desired/needed over time

       Runs side x side with VBA

       Add-in Management

       Simplifies loading and unloading of add-ins

       Ability to manage application domain creation

       Host defined discovery and qualification supporting repository based scenarios

       VSTA SDK includes

       Redistributable VS based IDE and Runtime

       Integration tools

       Samples and walk throughs

       Help documentation

 

Find out more about VSTA here, including how to download the VSTA SDK and learn about the simplified and transparent ISV pricing model.

 

Happy Customization!

 

KD Hallman

General Manager

Microsoft - Developer Division