VSTO Fast Guide

VSTO represents a major upgrade over Visual Basic for Applications. This reference offers a quick intrpoduction to Visual Studio Tools for Office.

VSTO represents a major upgrade over VBA (Visual Basic for Applications. Developers can use new host controls to...

extend Office objects, use managed code to add business logic to forms and make calls into the .NET Framework class library. There is also welcome support for IntelliSense and more robust debugging. This Fast Guide offers a quick intrpoduction to Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office. For a more comprehensive look, check out our Visual Studio Tools for Office Learning Guide.


  • Glossary Definition: VSTO (Whatis.com): "VSTO is used by developers to write code connecting Microsoft Office Word, Excel and Outlook applications."
  • Blogs: VSTO: My Favorite Feature Blog Series (MSDN): Visual Studio Tools for Office is the premiere development tool for building Office Business Applications. More features and RAD tools are added to VSTO as it evolves and some of these items are becoming fast favorites of the VSTO product team and third-party VSTO experts alike.
  • Tutorial: Creating Projects Using Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System (MSDN): This lab provides an introduction to creating projects using Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System.

Expert Advice

You can learn about Visual Studio Tools for Office and Office-related issues. Pose your own question.

Click below for a sampling of advice to users just like you...


  • Behind VSTO today :New enhancements to Visual Studio Tools for Office were part of the news at TechEd 2005. VSTO for .NET 2.0 notably adds better hooks to Outlook. (June 25, 2005)
  • How VSTO changes office development: For years, many developers used Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to create macros and tie Office applications together. This tool has since been supplemented with Visual Studio Tools for Office, or VSTO, which along with its new features can entail a substantial learning curve for deploying them. (June 3, 2005)
  • Outlook support due for VSTO: Programmability of Microsoft Office apps took a leap forward this week when support for Outlook 2003 was added to Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office. (June 7, 2005)
  • Next Visual Studio Tools for Office comes into view: This summer, VSTO 2005 is scheduled to ship with new data-binding capabilities, managed controls, plus offline and server features to extend Office application development. As well, it is said to feature ClickOnce deployment options. (March 8, 2005)

Chapter Downloads

  • Visual Studio Tools for Office: Introduction to Office Solutions (Pearson Education): This chapter defined the three patterns followed by most Office solutions -- automation executable programs, Office add-ins and code behind an Office document -- and examines each pattern in greater detail, using code examples and screen shots to show developers how to perform certain tasks.

Online Resources

Best Web Links

  • VSTO Zone (OfficeZealot): "The goal of this zone is to provide developers with a central area to meet up with the VSTO community on the web. You will notice that we highlight any known bloggers who use Visual Studio Tools for Office. Additionally, we provide pointers to useful VSTO developer resources from all over the Web."
  • Q&A: Using .NET to Build on Microsoft Office Microsoft Press Pass Site (Microsoft.com): PressPass asked KD Hallman , general manager for Visual Studio Tools for Office, to explain what is new in this version of the tools and what benefits they bring to developers and end users. Joining Hallman was Chris Kunicki , an industry veteran who provides strategic consulting on the Microsoft Office System.
  • Creating Outlook add-ins with VSTO (Outlookcode.com): This page provides hints for creating Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 add-ins with Visual Studio Tools for Office.
This was last published in July 2005

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