Microsoft Office Add-ins: The Big Picture
Microsoft Office Add-ins: The Big Picture

Microsoft Office Add-ins: The Big Picture

What are Microsoft Office Add-ins?

In a layman’s term, they are the tools which extends the capabilities of our Microsoft Office Suite, and they do the cool stuff, like formatting of data, fetch the data from the web, correct your grammatical errors and lots more.

Why do you care?

If you developed any add-ins or macro for organisation (in VB or VSTO), then you should care. Most of the of Fortune 500 have already moved to the cloud or preparing to move, bring your Own Device (BYOD) is getting popular, everyone is talking about platform agnostic infrastructure where people can use any service without any platform/OS dependency. Majorly the Cloud and Web is the future.

COM (VB) or VSTO macro are not compatible with Mac OS or with Word Online, at some time in the future you may require to re-write them so that you users can use them on any platform they like.

Also according to Financial Post there are over 1 billion people worldwide uses Ms Office products of service. Imagine! (Now I might have got your attention). There is a chance of to write an add-in and you can monetize it. Possibilities are infinite.

A little background on Office add-ins in general

There are three types of Microsoft Office Add-ins COM, VSTO and Web add-ins. Web-add-ins are new and the oldest one is the COM add-ins.

The COM add-ins are majorly written in the Visual Basic language and Windows MS office has an in-built support of the development of add-ins. These add-ins only woks on Windows Platform.

Whereas VSTO add-ins are written in the .Net language, and you will need Visual Studio to develop them. Like COM add-ins these add-ins also works on Windows platform only.

The newer one is the Web-add-ins, you can write them in any of your favourite IDE, and they can run on Mac OS, Windows and even of the Web version of Office suite.

What you need to learn?

If you have never developed anything for a web before, then developing add-ins will be a steep learning curve. But learning is a fun, isn’t. Below is the list of technologies which you might to learn, to develop web add-ins.

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

  • Visual Studio Code ( it’s easy )

Core technologies

  1. JavaScript (Functionality)
  2. HTML (designing element)
  3. CSS (designing element)
  4. XML (Manifest file)

JavaScript frameworks

  1. Node JS (we required Node to run Angular JS or React JS)
  2. Angular JS
  3. React JS (IMHO react is little easy)

Version Control

  1. Git

For this blog and project, I have created Git repo it’s blank (when this blog was written) as of now , but it will keep getting updates along with the further blog posts.

To read more Office Java Script add-ins, visit the following links.


Or follow us for our upcoming blog posts where we are going to dig deeper into Office JS stuff. And yes, we are starting from a scratch and will cover all things as we encounter them.

Keep learning! And stay safe!

Aman Dhally

t: @amandhally

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