Automation Add Ins and COM Add Ins

With the release of Office 2000, Microsoft introduced a new concept for creating custom Add-Ins for all the Office applications. Instead of creating application-specific Add-Ins (xlam in Excel, dotm in Word, and so on), you can create DLLs using Visual Basic, C++, or .NET that all the Office applications can use. Because these DLLs conform to Microsoft's Component Object Model, they are known as COM Add-Ins. The second half of this chapter explains how to create and implement your own COM Add-Ins.

In Excel 2002, Microsoft extended the concept and simplified the implementation of the COM Add-In mechanism, so their functions could be used in the same way as worksheet functions and VBA user-defined functions. These Add-Ins are known as Automation Add-Ins.

In Excel 2007, Microsoft has further extended COM Add-Ins to support application-level customization of the Ribbon and the creation of custom task panes.

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