Opening a Browser from a Button on the 2007 Office Fluent Ribbon
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Summary: Performing various actions on the 2007 Microsoft Office Fluent user interface (UI), such as opening a browser from a button, requires only a few lines of XML and programming code.
Applies to: 2007 Microsoft Office System, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, Microsoft Office Word 2007
Frank Rice, Microsoft Corporation
The 2007 Microsoft Office Fluent user interface (UI) replaces the current system of layered menus, toolbars, and task panes with a simpler system that is optimized for efficiency and discoverability. The Office Fluent Ribbon, context (right-click) menus, the Quick Access Toolbar, and the Microsoft Office checkbox are all parts of the Office Fluent interface. There are a number of custom and built-in controls, such as buttons, check boxes, and combo boxes, that you can add to the Office Fluent Ribbon. You add components to the Office Fluent Ribbon with XML markup elements, and set properties on those components by using attributes. You assign functionality to the components by using any programming language supported by Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, such as Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual C#, as well as Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), Microsoft Visual C++, and Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0.
You can use a combination of XML and programming code to add your own custom controls to the Office Fluent Ribbon or perform actions on the Office Fluent Ribbon.
Adding Controls with XML
XML provides a hierarchical, declarative model of the Office Fluent Ribbon. Add controls, such as toggle buttons and tabs, to the Office Fluent Ribbon by using XML elements to specify the type of component. For example, you can add a single toggle button by using the toggleButton element. You assign property values to the control by using attributes such as the label attribute. The following code example shows how to do this.
This code example adds a custom tab named Open Browser Demo to the Office Fluent Ribbon by assigning text to the tab element's label attribute as seen in Figure 1. This tab contains the Demo Group group, which contains a button control named button1.
The button1 control has properties defined by using attributes such as the imageMso attribute, the onAction attribute, and the label attribute. You can assign these properties explicitly by setting the attribute equal to a string or indirectly by pointing to a programming code procedure. In addition to the id property and the label property, the button also defines the imageMso attribute. This attribute points to an image built into Microsoft Office. You can determine this based on the Mso suffix. Attributes with the Mso suffix always point to built-in functionality. To point to a custom image, you use the image attribute as in image="MyImage".
Next, is the onAction attribute. This attribute points to programming code called callback procedures. Callback procedures are discussed in more detail in the "Assigning Functionality to Office Fluent Ribbon Components" section.
Finally, notice the tag attribute of the button. You can use this attribute to store information that you may want to use later. For example, in this example, I set the attribute equal to a Web address that I use when opening the browser in the programming code. You will see how this works shortly.
Assigning Functionality to Office Fluent Ribbon Components
In the previous XML sample, the onAction attribute points to a callback procedure. When the button is clicked, Microsoft Office calls back to the OnAction method. The code in the OnAction method gives the button its functionality. These procedures are called callbacks because when the button is clicked, the action alerts Microsoft Office that the control needs attention. Microsoft Office then calls back to the method defined by the onAction attribute and performs whatever action is contained in the method. The following paragraphs describe this callback procedure in more detail.
The onAction attribute points to the OnAction callback procedure although the name of the callback procedure does not need to match the name of the attribute. It could just as easily be onAction="DoSomething".
When the OnAction procedure is called by Microsoft Office, an IRibbonControl object representing the button is passed in. The procedure assigns the Tag property of the control to a String variable. It then calls the Start method of the Process class in the System.Diagnostics namespace and passes it the String variable that contains the URL that I assigned in the XML markup. This opens the computer's default browser to the address in the URL.
There are two ways to deploy a custom Ribbon:
You can select the technique depending on the scope you need for the customized Ribbon. For example, modifying an Open XML file results in document-level customization where the customized Office Fluent Ribbon is associated with a particular document rather than the entire application. Alternatively, by using an add-in, you get application-level customization which means that the customized Office Fluent Ribbon applies to the entire application regardless of which document is open.
Creating a customized Office Fluent Ribbon using an Open XML file is not complicated.
To create a customized Ribbon using an Open XML file
Using an add-in to customize the Office Fluent Ribbon is equally simple. After creating the add-in project, you implement the IRibbonExtensibility interface, which is included in the Microsoft.Office.Core namespace. This interface contains a method called GetCustomUI. Use this method to return the XML Ribbon customization code to Microsoft Office. Then add programming procedures that give the custom Office Fluent Ribbon its functionality.
Hiding Tabs on the Ribbon
In the following procedure, you combine this information to create a custom tab containing a custom group and button that opens a browser from a button on the Office Fluent Ribbon in Office Excel 2007.
Creating the Add-In Solution
To create the project, there are nine steps.
To create the add-in solution adding custom buttons to the Ribbon
Visual Studio creates a solution that contains two projects—the add-in itself and a Setup project. The Setup project enables you to install the add-in on other users' computers, and it makes it easier for you, at design time, to install and uninstall the add-in.
Adding References to the Project
To interact with Excel 2007 and the Office Fluent Ribbon object model, add a reference to the Microsoft Office Core type library.
To add a reference to the project
Creating the Ribbon Customization XML File
Create the file that adds the components and sets the property for those components.
To create the Ribbon customization XML file
In the new XML file, add the XML markup in the section titled "Adding Controls with XML."
Adding the XML File as an Embedded Resource
For best results, use the XML file as a resource within the project's resource file.
To add the XML file as an embedded resource
Accessing the Host Application and Working with the Ribbon
You need to create an instance of Excel and add the Ribbon interface.
To access the host applications and work with the Ribbon
Testing the Project
Now you are ready to run the project.
To test the project
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