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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Orcas Workshop: Day Four

Last day of the workshop went well. I'll be sad to leave the prepared lunches, snacks, ice cream, etc at Microsoft, but I won't be sad to leave those horrible chairs (my back is killing me).

Most of today was on Microsoft Office integration with a short bit at the end for Team System. I left a few minutes early hoping to avoid the traffic on my way home, unfortunately my plan didn't work out that well (2 hours!).

Office Integration

  • OBA (Office Business Applications) enable MS Office products to deliver business services in the form of add-ons. It is not a product, but a technical concept. OBA bridges the gap between unstructured processes (individuals making up their own process, such as storing notes in Word documents) and structured processes (line-of-business applications).
  • SharePoint is an important aspect of OBA.
  • VSTO (Visual Studio Office Integration) is the bridge between Visual Studio and Office. It will be shipped with Visual Studio 2008 Professional edition.
  • The visual designers that come with VSTO look great. If you are extending a Word document, you get a designer that looks like Microsoft Word. If you are extending just the ribbon control, you get a designer that looks like the ribbon. You can add controls and hook up event handlers the same way as with WinForms development. Very easy.
  • Debugging is easy too. Simply press F5 and the Office product that you are extending is started and your add-in is loaded and run. You can place breakpoints in your code in order to step through it just like any other VS project.
  • VSTO for Orcas has improved security and deployment. I'm not entirely sure what this means since I'm not a VSTO developer, but if you are, this might be interesting to you.
  • VSTA (Visual Studio Tools for Applications)  is the underlying infrastructure for VSTO. It is essentially managed code macros.
  • The code that you write for VSTO is separate from the document. The assembly must be installed on the client in order to be used. You are also able to deploy it on a remote server, but the client will need to be able to access that server in order to use the macro (it is configured using a manifest file).
  • The Office ribbon control is extensible through XML.

Visual Studio Team System

  • There isn't much new stuff coming out in Orcas for Team System (it is considered a point release for VSTS).
  • Rosario is the next major version of VSTS. It will offer better project level management and test case management. I'm not sure what the release date for this is.
  • Rosario will support dependencies between work items.
  • The source control built-in to VSTS allows for cherry picking changes. This allows you to make a hot fix to production code within the development branch without having to include all of the changes since that was released (of course a person will need to determine if that is reasonable or not).
  • You can setup a proxy for remote offices that will cache source code so that when you request a version that is already cached, you get that instead. This is very useful when dealing with remote locations with slow connections.
  • If after setting up your VSTS project you need to add a field to your work items, Power Tools 1.2 provides the ability to do this graphically. (apparently there is a video that was posted somewhere recently that shows how to do this, I wasn't able to find it though)

PowerPoint Presentation

I downloaded the PowerPoint presentations from the workshop. If you would like me to email you one, just mention which one you want and leave your email address. I don't feel comfortable just putting them on the Internet, but I don't see why Microsoft would care if I shared them (they said it was ok to download them and there wasn't any NDA that I remember anyway). If you want one, please note that they were built with PowerPoint 2007. If you don't have PowerPoint 2007 you will need to download a 28MB Office Compatibility pack.

Well, this ends my Visual Studio 2008 and .Net Framework 3.5 Workshop journal. I hope you enjoyed it. I'm excited to see the final release of VS 2008.

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