Your feedback wanted: Improving Deployment for Office Document Solutions

  • Comments 9

Our team is looking for feedback on how we can improve the deployment experience for VSTO document solutions.  We are interested in hearing how you deploy your Excel spreadsheet/template and Word document/template solutions today & what sorts of improvements you’d like to see us make in the next version.  Please use the Comment feature of this blog to tell us about your requirements. 

Please specify if you are using VS 2005, VS 2008, Office 2007, or VBA.

  1. Describe your document based solution.  What does it do?  Who is the target customer?  Are you targeting Office 2003 or Office 2007?
  2. How do you deploy your VBA and VSTO solutions today? Do you distribute via web download, DVD, e-mail or SharePoint? 
  3. How frequently do you update the document and the underlying code?
  4. What are your security requirements? 
  5. What drives your decision to choose a particular technology? 

How would you stack rank the following features?

  • Security - Certificates
  • Security - Office Macro Settings
  • Security - Trusted Locations
  • Seamless first run experience
  • Publish regular updates
  • Email-based deployment
  • Web-based deployment
  • Deploy to SharePoint
  • Deploy to File Share
  • Install from CD
  • Install from one location – update from another
  • Download updates in the background

We may not reply directly to every single comment, but we will read them carefully and use them to design future solutions for Office Developers.  Thank you for your time and valuable feedback.


Rachel Schaw

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  • Created an excel document project to store contacts.

    Our company is trying to migrate away from several contact management systems full of junk and has tasked all the staff with putting their up to date contact info into spreadsheets which will then be imported to our ERP system.

    Creating the excel document and form was easy, that part I liked. When it came to actually releasing it so that users could download and use it, I was overwhelmed by the difficulty and caveats of doing so, mainly security related but throw in an external data connection/query and you might as well give up, it was so time consuming and frustrating in fact that I ended up having to ditch it and redesign the document using old school macros which worked first time having been signed, without the incredible hassel of vsto deployment.

    Deployment is via Sharepoint (MOSS 2007)

    Updates can be as often as weekly.

    As far as security goes, if you are a member of the domain, and the document is signed by a developer with a valid certificate issued by the sys admin, it should run without installs, warning dialogs and desktop configuration changes.

    As for point 5, always willing to try new approaches but ultimately it has to work reliably and be efficient. The VSTO I tried was just that, until it came to deployment.

  • i am trying to deploy vsto solution in moss 2007 and facing problems. when i try to deploy through network folder and copy the dotx file in document library of share point. my document loaded and display an error that your customization library could not be loaded.Please advise me what to do so that i could come out of this problem. Your help will be highly appriciated.

  • hi pankaj,

    you must set the Installation path through the Publish Wizard or Publish Page of the Project Designer. alternately, you can use Word to set the path to the customization assembly.

    step-by-step instructions are at


  • For the CRM project, I have developed a VSTO Word template an it works fine when I start the template directly (by double clicking on it). In order to work, I needed to setup some privileges to attached assembly (customization if you prefer), but that is not related to my problem (maybe I'm wrong). It seems that I cannot start the very same template from c# win form from another (not VSTO) project (either by starting the new word process or by using interop to create new word doc out from VSTO template). Ok, the Word App starts, a new word doc (Document1.doc) is created based on template, but nothing happens (customization did nothing). No messages from Word App like the customization privileges problem etc...So my basic question/problem is: How can I start a VSTO word/template solution from win form (and to actually work? :)  

    (VSTO 2005 for 2003 Office, VS 2005, .Net 2.0 c#)

    Thanks in advance.

  • As a seasoned VBA developer moving to VSTO 2008 is a steep learning curve and it would be really helpful if you could make deploying solutions to all users and not just current user, a lot easier.

  • Hi Shirley -

    We're making efforts to change some of the settings that are available in Office 14 that will enable the Visual Studio team to create better deployment for All_Users.  For now, the workaround is available for current versions of Office, and we agree it isn't easy.  Thanks for your feedback.  Every time we get another message from customers about this issue, it strengthens our request to the O14 team.  We're able to use your message when we meet with the engineering teams to request changes.  


    Christin Boyd

    Program Manager

    Visual Studio Team

  • "if you install VSTO 2005 SE on top of a clean VS 2005 Professional, you won't have the document-level templates.  If you want to have them you need to have VS 2005 Team Suite/Team Edition or you need to install the previous version of VSTO: VSTO 2005. So VS 2005 Professional + VSTO 2005 + VSTO 2005 SE will give you the document-level templates!" according to

    So my question is where can I get VSTO 2005, because I need the document level templates. PS. Deploying looks like it is very difficult.  I could not do it with the app add-on so that I why I would like to try document level.

  • We use very simple XCopy deployment for all of our applications in our suite.  We also automate a VERY complex web of automatic deployments among a group of schema-tied suite components, which relies on the basic simplicity of xcopy deployment.  In the past, our VBA spreadsheets (of which we currently deploy 6) were simply shipped in a utilities subfolder of our primary application.  Now, the whole mess with click once and manifest signing, which doesn't work at all for us and is very complicated just gets in the way.  I want a way to xcopy deploy our spreadsheets using VSTO.  We just want to ship the xlsx document and the related assemblies from VSTO in an xcopy package and maintain them via our existing update mechanism.  Again, click once is just way too simplistic and won't work for us, not to mention that we aren't interested in rewriting the code which is already in place and working, even if there was a way to make click once work.  Why fix what isn't broken (except VSTO, in our case).  Thanks for asking.  I can only assume I am not the only one interested in this.  I of course will try like hell to work around the problem you've created for me in the meantime.

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Your feedback wanted: Improving Deployment for Office Document Solutions