Add-in Express

Add-in Express

Add-in Express is a component set for Microsoft Office developers that allows extending Microsoft Office with custom functionality. It is designed for creating COM add-ins, smart tags, Excel real-time data servers (RTD servers), Excel Automation Add-ins and Excel user defined functions (UDFs) in a RAD way. Add-in Express builds its projects over special designers and components that make possible to develop add-ins, smart tags, RTD servers and UDFs without coding their graphical user interface (GUI), in that way lessening programming efforts in automation of MS Office objects and handling their events as well as in research, prototyping, and debugging.

The tool is developed for Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and Borland Delphi integrated development environments (IDEs).


Add-in Express was first released in 2002 as a VCL library for creating COM add-ins in Delphi. It hid all straits of low-level programming by implementing the IDTExtensibility2 interface and provided GUI management including the creation of command bars and command bar controls. At that time Add-in Express supported COM add-ins for five main Microsoft Office applications, namely Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. Later Add-in Express started supporting FrontPage and Project. After Office XP had been published, the Smart Tags and Excel Real-Time Data servers technologies were added to Add-in Express.

In 2004 Add-in Express was redesigned, and its second major version, Add-in Express 2.0, provided the RAD way for creating COM add-ins, smart tags and RTD servers. Also, one more technology, Excel Automation Add-ins, was added as well as the support of MapPoint, Visio and Publisher. Then Add-in Express was ported to .NET. In July, 2006 the VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office) edition of Add-in Express was released and Add-in Express became available in three editions: .NET, VSTO, and VCL.

The next generation of Add-in Express, Add-in Express 2007 was released in December, 2006. Add-in Express 2007 completely supports Microsoft Office 2007, including the customization of the Ribbon user interface (UI), the Quick Access Toolbar and the Office Menu.At the beginning of 2008 two more Add-in Express products appeared on the development component market: Add-in Express for Internet Explorer designed for creating Internet Explorer add-ons; and Add-in Express for Outlook Express purposed for developing Outlook Express extensions.

Supported technologies and applications

Add-in Express directly supports Microsoft Office 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007, including:
* Application-level COM add-ins (Component Object Model add-ins) for all main applications from the Microsoft Office family: Outlook, Excel, Word, Access, PowerPoint, Project, MapPoint, Publisher, Visio, FrontPage and InfoPath
* Smart tags for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook (with Word as a default e-mail editor)
* Excel Real-Time Data servers
* Excel Used-Defined Functions (UDF)
* Excel Automation Add-ins

Supported IDEs

Add-in Express .NET works on the most popular IDEs available for .NET Framework 1.1 and 2.0, including Visual Studio 2003, Visual Studio 2005 and Borland Delphi for .NET. It directly supports:
* Visual C# .NET 2003, 2005
* Visual C++ .NET 2003, 2005
* Visual Basic .NET 2005 Express
* C# 2005 Express
* Delphi .NET 2005, 2006
* RemObjects Chrome 1.5

Add-in Express VCL supports Delphi 5, 6, 7, 2005 and 2006 (including Architect, Enterprise and Professional editions).

Add-in Express VSTO supports Visual Studio Tools for Office 2005, Visual Basic .NET 2005 and Visual C# .NET 2005.

Main features

The main features that distinguish Add-in Express from other development components are:

* A special module that implements the IDTExtensibility2 interface, provides access to objects and events of the add-in’s host applications, contains GUI components and centralizes the applied code.
* Special designers that allow developers to create projects, GUI and logic of COM add-ins.
* Effective deployment mechanism.
* Components for creating new or customize existing toolbars, menus and sub-menus for Microsoft Office 2000 - 2003.
* Special components for Microsoft Office 2007. Components for adding new or customizing existing tabs for the Office 2007 Ribbon UI, building the Quick Access Toolbar and the Office Menu for Microsoft Office 2007.
* Support of auto-generated setup projects and shims. That is, shim projects are generated automatically when new solutions are created, and they are refreshed once the solution is changed.
* Managed and unmanaged Office add-ons, including COM add-ins, smart tags, RTDs and UDFs.
* Safe loading, unloading, separate and common application domains.
* Easy programming model and the runtime support for all MS Office application objects and their events such as Outlook.NewMail, Word.DocumentBeforeSave, Excel.SelectionChange.
* Extended features for Outlook, including option and property pages, folder and item level events.
* Handling of smart-documents based on Excel and Word.
* Shared add-ins, which means that any applications can be added or removed from the supported application list at any time.
* Multi-add-ins projects. Several Office add-ins can be developed in one add-in project, in one assembly.
* Office PIAs. Add-in Express directly integrates its projects with the Office primary interop assemblies which makes applied code smarter and more readable.

* Command bars and controls. Special command bar components provide a flexible way to create controls on new or existing toolbars or menu bars, to replace any built-in toolbars with custom ones, to place custom controls and any built-in controls side by side on toolbars, menus and context menus.
* Hooking and hacking. A special component embeds the code into event handlers of the built-in controls such as the Send button in Outlook, the Save menu item in Word, the Find command in Excel, etc.
* Keyboard shortcuts in all Office applications. Add-in Express allows intercepting any keyboard shortcuts and using them for custom controls. Command bar components and keyboard shortcuts make possible to completely substitute any built-in controls with custom ones, e.g. the Save and SaveAs commands to store Office documents in the document management system.

Add-in Express extensions

Add-in Express is extended by a set of plug-ins that target different aspects of COM add-in development. The plug-ins focus on deeper aspects of Office windows and Outlook storage using the Windows API (WinAPI) and Extended MAPI technologies. Currently they include the Add-in Express Extensions for Microsoft Outlook and the Toolbar Controls for Microsoft Office.

The Add-in Express Extensions for Microsoft Outlook allows Outlook programmers to embed custom .NET forms into the Outlook Inspector and Explorer windows and use any controls on any Microsoft Outlook forms. The Add-in Express Extensions gives Outlook developers the same advantages as the form regions technology supported by Microsoft Outlook 2007, but in contrast to VSTO 3 and Outlook 2007 this component works for all Outlook versions: Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003 and Outlook 2007.

The Toolbar Controls enables Office developers to use any visual .NET controls on Outlook and Excel command bars, including tree-views, grids, diagrams, edit boxes and reports.

ee also

* List of Rapid Application Development tools

External links

* [ Add-in Express .NET]
* [ Add-in Express VCL]
* [ Add-in Express for Outlook Express]
* [ Add-in Express for Internet Explorer]

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