This book offers an indebt review of how SharePoint fits in the Microsoft Office ecosystem. It delivers a variety of advanced examples, richly illustrated with sample code, downloadable from Apress, and step by step instructions and illustrations in the book itself.
The organization of the book is very convenient and the first four chapters allow the reader to brush up his knowledge about MS Offices and SharePoint with abundant external links. Each consecutive chapter after that represents a standalone example based on a real-world scenario. The examples are focused on the integration with a particular MS Office product. For example Chapter 5 demonstrates a scenario where MS Word integrates with SharePoint and Chapter 9 shows how to construct PowerPoint slides using content stored in a SharePoint list. Every example starts with an introduction and walkthrough, which allows the reader to start reading the chapter directly without losing context.
The complexity of integrating products of the MS Office family in enterprise solutions requires quite a bit of knowledge and experience thus I do not recommend this book to beginners in SharePoint and MS Office programming. While this book has a plenty of introductory and historical information about MS Office development and SharePoint customization, it does not emphasize on important steps of professional SharePoint development such as creation of SharePoint solutions, list and site template customization and provisioning. However if you are already familiar with SharePoint (WSS 3, MOSS 2007) concepts such as solutions, features, workflow etc., this is the book to put all these features in the context of enterprise applications.
The software and hardware requirements for the examples in this book are quite high, so if you want to be able to implement them on your own you need to allocate some time to prepare a system with MOSS 2007, MS Office 2007 Enterprise, VS 2008 Professional or Team Edition and for the first example MS Office 2003. In addition there are several manual actions, which require a bit more time.
Something, which may not be obvious from the title, is the heavy use of the new MS Office document standard - Office Open XML (commonly referred to as OOXML or OpenXML). This was my first exposure to this format specification and I found its use throughout the book very useful.
Overall this book is of great value to intermediate and advanced developers, working on enterprise applications based on the MS Office system or integration projects with third party vendors. The examples can be read independently and each one of them not only demonstrates the implementation of a particular scenario, but also provokes ideas for other projects.