VSTO 2008 Beta 1 - What's in there?

VS 2008 Beta 1 has been out for a while, and there are ton of features in it. Lately, people have been asking questions about Beta 1 on the VSTO forums. I thought it would be a good idea to post some details about Beta 1.

VSTO has a ton of new features in this release. First things first, as many of you would have noticed that VSTO is not a separate SKU any more. This was done to simplify the licensing options for customers. Moreover, I feel that VSTO 2008, (v3 for the Office tools) is going to become more mainstream as more developers look to develop on the Office platform.

There is only word to describe the VSTO v3 release - breadth! From Office client to server, we have covered a wide range of features. We've already started blogging on some of our features here. Some of our newer features include:

  • Ribbon Visual Designer allows you to customize the ribbon in Word, Excel, and Outlook. Drag and drop controls and party on!
  • SharePoint Workflow tools let you debug and deploy workflows for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). We referring to this, internally, as providing a "simple F5 experience".
  • Outlook Form Regions support: Watch more about this in Bob Muglia's Tech-Ed keynote around the 1 hour, 11 minutes mark.
  • Word Content controls support: This is easily the most exciting feature in Word 2007 for developers and we provide familiar .NET based databinding support for them. Now they can use VSTO to develop sophisticated Word based solutions. 
  • New ClickOnce based deployment and security model - you do not have to deal with .NET CAS settings. This is beyond doubt the biggest complaint in VSTO v2 and we have, hopefully, done the right thing here now.
  • VBA-VSTO interop: Do you have a lot of VBA macro code that requires work to be ported to .NET? This feature allows it to access it from you VSTO code.
  • Add-ins (application level customizations) for most Office client applications - Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Visio, InfoPath and even Project (new in v3).
  • And more....

Guess what - this is not just it. With VS 2008 professional, you will get ALL the Office 2003 features and support that you are already using with VSTO 2005 and VSTO SE. There are tons of other work that we have done under the covers with relation to version resilience (check out TQ's session on MAF), refactoring and re-architecture to have a consistent VSTA and VSTO story.