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VSTO for Mere Mortals: A VBA Developer's Guide to Microsoft Office Development Using Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office Paperback – 29 Dec 2006

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Praise for VSTO for Mere Mortals™

"This is the book I wish I'd had when I was first introduced to VSTO and the .NET Framework. It will be invaluable not only to those considering VSTO, but for anyone transitioning from Office VBA to Visual Basic.NET. The wide range of subjects covered provides an entry point for the more in-depth, developer-oriented documentation available on MSDN and elsewhere."

–Cindy Meister, MS Word MVP

"VSTO for Mere Mortals™ does a great job of building a bridge between the worlds of VBA and VSTO. Kathleen and Paul show how a VBA developer can have the richness of Office and also the power, maintainability, and security of Visual Studio. They succeeded in writing a book that is approachable, understandable, and compelling."

–KD Hallman, General Manager, Microsoft, Developer Division

"This book is an excellent choice for VBA developers looking to make the switch to .NET development for Office using Visual Studio Tools for Office. In many instances VB.NET code is presented alongside equivalent VBA code to help illustrate key conceptual and usage differences."

–Steve Hansen,, author of Mastering Excel 2003 Programming with VBA and coauthor of Mastering Excel 2000 Premium Edition

"Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office is the way to go for building managed Office applications. If you're moving from VBA to managed code, this book shows you the way."

–Ken Getz, Senior Consultant, MCW Technologies, LLC

"This book is highly recommended for VBA developers who are interested in doing Office programming using the rich power of Visual Studio and .NET."

–Mei Liang, Software Design Engineer in Test, Microsoft

"Kathleen McGrath has stuffed VSTO for Mere Mortals™ with in-depth code samples that demonstrate VSTO in an easy-to-understand way. From simple how-to's to advanced functionality, it's all here. I learned a great deal from reading this book."

–Justin Whitney, Technical Journalist

"This book provides an instantly accessible resource for VBA and Office developers to become familiar with the powerful new Office development platform, but even goes beyond that, providing a number of 'worth the purchase of the book' tips, fully functional examples, and elegant methods from someone who has obviously spent a lot of time with these tools to help the mortal on the path to becoming a guru."

–Rory Plaire, Solutions Architect, DigitalCommons LLC

"For the Office VBA developer interested in programming in .NET or the .NET programmer looking to move to the Office platform, this book is worth its weight in gold. If you are looking for a complete, well-written source to quickly get you up to speed to develop and program Office solutions in Visual Studio 2005, I believe this book is a must-have."

–Frank Rice, Programming Writer, Microsoft Office Developer Center

"With this book, VBA developers have access to a great resource that will help them understand essential concepts of managed code and best practices to migrate VBA solutions to Visual Basic 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office. This book goes beyond an introduction to VSTO to introduce the new world of VSTO 2005 SE and the 2007 Microsoft Office system."

–Erika Ehrli Cabral, Site Manager, MSDN Office Developer Center, Microsoft

"Kathleen and Paul have been involved with VSTO in one way or the other from its very beginnings, and it shows. Their depth and breadth of knowledge is reflected in this detailed and authoritative book. I highly recommend it for any professional developer making the transition from VBA to managed code."

–Eric Lippert, Software Design Engineer, Microsoft

VSTO for Mere Mortals™ is for VBA developers who are interested in migrating their skills to the next generation of Office development. Readers will benefit from a straightforward, practical introduction to writing managed code applications for Word 2003, Excel 2003, and Outlook 2003. Readers will also learn how to create add-ins for the most popular applications for Office 2003 and the 2007 Microsoft Office system using VSTO 2005 SE.

The expert authors provide a wealth of code samples that show off popular features of VSTO, such as smart tags and the actions pane. Sample code also shows you how to customize the new UI features of the 2007 Microsoft Office system, including the ribbon, custom task pane, and Outlook forms region.

VBA developers will walk away with

  • A greater understanding of managed code and the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE)
  • Multiple demonstrations on how to create document-level customizations for Word 2003 and Excel 2003, using view controls, data binding, and the actions pane
  • A comprehensive overview of add-in development for Outlook 2003
  • Useful information on securing and deploying solutions created with VSTO and VSTO 2005 SE
  • A thorough explanation on how to migrate VBA solutions to Visual Basic 2005 and VSTO
  • Numerous details on customizing the ribbon, custom task pane, and Outlook form regions by developing VSTO 2005 SE add-ins for the 2007 Microsoft Office system

About the Author

Kathleen McGrath is a programming writer at Microsoft. She has written documentation for Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System (VSTO), Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA), and Visual Basic. Prior to joining Microsoft, she worked as a VBA developer customizing Word applications in the financial printing and legal industries. Kathleen has also created short video demonstrations of the features of VSTO and Visual Basic on her blog at

Paul Stubbs works as a program manager with the Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) team at Microsoft. In addition to VSTO, Paul works with the VSTA team developing a new managed code application programmability development tool for InfoPath 2007 and independent software vendors (ISVs). Paul has written for MSDN Magazine and has spoken at such events as TechEd and TechReady. Paul also participates in the developer community on the Microsoft forums and his blog at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not everyone's cup of tea 13 Oct. 2009
By Dimitri Shvorob - Published on
Format: Paperback
A VBA programmer migrating to VSTO will appreciate a thorough yet easy-going introduction to Visual Studio and VB, discussion of deployment, etc. A VB programmer will be less happy, feeling that pages taken up by the already-familiar material would be better spent on VSTO proper. A C# programmer will share the sentiment, and, of course, notice that code here is exlusively VB. An Excel programmer - using VBA, VB or C# - will note that in the book Excel shares the stage with Word and Outlook, and accounts for but a fraction of the total page count. I am a C#/Excel fellow, and "VSTO for Mere Mortals" is clearly not the right choice for me: its coverage of VSTO + Excel is just not nearly sufficiently comprehensive or deep.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Perfect for moving from VBA to VSTO 28 April 2007
By Guy Barrette - Published on
Format: Paperback
Traditionally, developing on the Office platform meant that you would use VBA but Microsoft released Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) a few years ago to let .NET developers use their skills to develop managed Office applications. Moving from VBA to .NET is not easy because you need to learn so much new stuff especially if you never touched .NET in any way. "VSTO for Mere Mortals" is a book targeted at VBA developers who never used .NET before.

In the first chapters, the authors explain what is VSTO and what features are available for developers. Chapter 2 and 3 introduce the Visual Studio development environment and managed code. Seasoned .NET developers will skip these chapters but they are essential for people who never used Visual Studio before. The next chapters cover everything VSTO from Word, Excel and Outlook development to Smart Tags and database development. A full chapter is devoted to new features of VSTO 2005 SE and Office 2007.

If you're a VBA developer that wants to jump into .NET development using VSTO, look no further, this is the book for you. Experienced .NET will also find this book interesting but will skip a couple of .NET introduction chapters.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great Book!! 7 Mar. 2007
By M. Love - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book (VSTO for Mere Mortals) is very well written and easy to understand. I did not come from a programming background. I started by learning VBA so making the move from VBA to the .NET /VSTO world was a bit intimidating for me, however; after reading and following the examples in this book, making that leap is not as hard as I thought it would be. I love the detailed code samples in the book and the step-by-step way that they are presented. I really learned a lot from reading this book. Thank you to all that contributed to putting this book together.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VSTO is excelent for .net programmers as well as vba programmers 21 May 2007
By rogsonl - Published on
Format: Paperback
I found the book thorough and easy to read and follow. It reviewed .net extremely well, and made me aware of .net capabilities I had overlooked since the old ones worked.

I met a problem early on in my use of the book, communicated with the author, and got the help I needed to overcome the problem.

An excellent book on the subject.
many new features 23 Feb. 2007
By W Boudville - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is part of the "For Mere Mortals" series, which sounds like it was created by the publisher to compete with the popular Dummies and Idiots books. However, McGrath's efforts are not a trivial read. What she describes is a considerable effort by Microsoft to migrate the myriad VBA developers towards .NET and Visual Studio 2005 Tools.

The emphasis is not on implementing abstractions like object oriented programming. Rather, it uses the reader's background in coding VBA and in MS Word and Excel. Nor are you expected to be proficient in database design or the intricacies of SQL Server. Much of the text is about front end material. Like using the conveniences of the VSTO user interface, with its many widgets and menus, to easily code.

Many new features are available, compared to what you previously had under VBA. The most striking example is now the nifty ability to have a data island. Imagine an Excel spreadsheet on one machine. That loads from a database on another. If the first machine is your laptop, and you take it somewhere isolated from the network, what happens to your data? Well, there is now a means of copying that data, while you're still connected, into a data cache on the laptop. Without having to go to the extent of running a full database on the laptop.
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