Excel solutions

Visual Studio provides project templates you can use to create document-level customizations and VSTO Add-ins for Microsoft Office Excel. You can use these solutions to automate Excel, extend Excel features, and customize the Excel user interface (UI). For more information about the differences between document-level customizations and VSTO Add-ins, see Office solutions development overview (VSTO).

Applies to: The information in this topic applies to document-level projects and VSTO Add-in projects for Excel. For more information, see Features available by Office application and project type.

Note

Interested in developing solutions that extend the Office experience across multiple platforms? Check out the new Office Add-ins model. Office Add-ins have a small footprint compared to VSTO add-ins and solutions, and you can build them by using almost any web programming technology, such as HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, and XML.

This topic provides the following information:

Automate Excel

The Excel object model exposes many types that you can use to automate Excel. For example, you can programmatically create charts, format worksheets, and set the values of ranges and cells. For more information, see Excel object model overview.

When developing Excel solutions in Visual Studio, you can also use host items and host controls in your solutions. These are objects that extend certain commonly used objects in the Excel object model, such as the Worksheet and Range objects. The extended objects behave like the Excel objects they are based on, but they add additional events and data binding capabilities to the objects. For more information, see Automate Excel by using extended objects.

Develop document-level customizations for Excel

A document-level customization for Microsoft Office Excel consists of an assembly that is associated with a specific workbook. The assembly typically extends the workbook by customizing the UI and by automating Excel. Unlike a VSTO Add-in, which is associated with Excel itself, functionality that you implement in a customization is available only when the associated workbook is open in Excel.

To create a document-level customization project for Excel, use the Excel workbook or Excel template project templates in the New Project dialog box of Visual Studio. For more information, see How to: Create Office projects in Visual Studio.

For more information about how document-level customizations work, see Architecture of document-level customizations.

Excel customization programming model

When you create a document-level project for Excel, Visual Studio generates several classes that are the foundation of your solution: ThisWorkbook, Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3. These classes represent the workbook and worksheets that are associated with your solution, and they provide a starting point for writing your code.

For more information about these generated classes and other features you can use in a document-level project, see Program document-level customizations.

Develop VSTO Add-ins for Excel

A VSTO Add-in for Microsoft Office Excel consists of an assembly that is loaded by Excel. The assembly typically extends Excel by customizing the UI and by automating Excel. Unlike a document-level customization, which is associated with a specific workbook, functionality that you implement in a VSTO Add-in is not restricted to any single workbook.

To create a VSTO Add-in project for Excel, use the Excel workbook or Excel template project templates in the New Project dialog box of Visual Studio. For more information, see How to: Create Office projects in Visual Studio.

For general information about how VSTO Add-ins work, see Architecture of VSTO Add-ins.

link to video For a related video demonstration, see How do I: Automate PowerPoint from an Excel Add-in?.

Excel Add-in programming model

When you create an Excel VSTO Add-in project, Visual Studio generates a class, called ThisAddIn, which is the foundation of your solution. This class provides a starting point for writing your code, and it also exposes the object model of Excel to your VSTO Add-in.

For more information about the ThisAddIn class and other Visual Studio features you can use in a VSTO Add-in, see Program VSTO Add-Ins.

Customize the user interface of Excel

There are several different ways to customize the user interface of Excel. Some options are available to all project types, and other options are available only to VSTO Add-ins or document-level customizations.

Options for all project types

The following table lists customization options that are available to both document-level customizations and VSTO Add-ins.

Task For more information
Customize the Ribbon. Ribbon overview
Add Windows Forms controls or extended Excel controls to a worksheet in the customized workbook for a document-level customization, or in any open workbook for a VSTO Add-in. How to: Add Windows forms controls to Office documents

How to: Add Chart controls to worksheets

How to: Add ListObject controls to worksheets

How to: Add NamedRange controls to worksheets

Options for document-level customizations

The following table lists customization options that are available only to document-level customizations.

Task For more information
Add an actions pane to the workbook. Actions pane overview

How to: Add an actions pane to Word documents or Excel workbooks
Add extended range controls that are mapped to XML nodes to a worksheet. How to: Add XMLMappedRange controls to worksheets

Options for VSTO Add-ins

The following table lists customization options that are available only to VSTO Add-ins.

Task For more information
Create a custom task pane. Custom task panes
Title Description
Excel object model overview Provides an overview of the main types provided by the Excel object model.
Automate Excel by using extended objects Provides information about extended objects (provided by the Visual Studio Tools for Office runtime) that you can use in Excel solutions.
Globalization and localization of Excel solutions Contains information about special considerations for Excel solutions that will be run on computers that have non-English settings for Windows.
Windows Forms controls on Office documents overview Describes how you can add Windows Forms controls to Excel worksheets.
Walkthrough: Create your first document-level customization for Excel Demonstrates how to create a basic document-level customization for Excel.
Walkthrough: Create your first VSTO Add-in for Excel Demonstrates how to create a basic VSTO Add-in for Excel.
Walkthrough: Add controls to a worksheet at runtime in VSTO Add-in project Demonstrates how to add a Windows Forms button, a NamedRange, and a ListObject to a worksheet at runtime by using a VSTO Add-in.
Understand co-authoring and Add-ins Describes adjustments you might need to make to your solutions to accommodate coauthoring.
Excel 2010 in Office development Provides links to articles and reference documentation about developing Excel solutions. These are not specific to Office development using Visual Studio.