Adding More Functionality to Office


Chapter 13

Creating COM Add-ins with Visual Basic 6

Chapter 14

Creating Access Add-ins Chapter 15

Customizing the Ribbon with XML in Access Databases and Add-ins

Chapter 16

Customizing the Access Ribbon with a Visual Studio 2005 Shared Add-in

Chapter 17

Creating Standalone Scripts with Windows Script Host

Chapter 18

Working with SQL Server Data


Office 2000 introduced COM add-ins as a new development tool, an alternative to creating VBA add-ins for Access, Excel, Outlook, and Word. A COM add-in is created as a Dynamic Link Library (DLL) that is registered to work with Office applications. COM add-ins (at least theoretically) can be written to work with multiple Office programs, though realistically, because of the differences in functionality between Access, Word, Outlook, and Excel, only very simple COM add-ins of the "Hello, World!" type can actually be designed to work across multiple Office applications.

If you bought the Developer Edition of Office 2000 (or later, Office XP) you could create COM add-ins in the Access Visual Basic window, using its support for opening and editing VBA projects, although it wasn't easy because of the lack of debugging support. There was no Developer Edition of Office 2003, and there is none for Office 2007, so that option is no longer viable, unless you still have the Developer Edition of Office 2000 or Office XP installed.


Creating COM add-ins with Visual Basic 6

Installing and troubleshooting COM add-ins

Comparing COM add-ins and Access add-ins

. r a -y- f-v Visual Studio Tools for Office lets you create Visual Studio ~ add-ins for some Office components, but unfortunately, even the latest edition, the one that supports Office 2007, still lacks support for creating Access add-ins. See Chapter 16 for a discussion of creating Visual Studio add-ins for working with the Access 2007 Ribbon.

However, that doesn't mean you can't create COM add-ins for Office 2007. Visual Basic was last updated in 1998 (v. 6.0), but it is still quite useful, and is fully supported by Microsoft, unlike most other Microsoft applications of that vintage. If you have been working with VB 6 for years, you don't have to put aside your hard-won expertise and start learning Visual Studio 2005; you can create COM add-ins that will work in Office 2007 using VB 6. (If you do want to learn how to create add-ins with Visual Studio 2005, see Chapter 16.)

In earlier versions of Access, COM add-ins placed buttons on the menu or toolbar you specified, using the CommandBars collection. In Access 2007, COM add-ins place buttons in the Toolbar Commands group of the Add-Ins tab of the Ribbon, for backwards compatibility with the old CommandBars collection.

In addition to COM add-ins and Access add-ins, Access 2007 also offers a brand-new option: using the XML programming language to add controls to the Ribbon, powered by code written in VBA. This technique is covered in Chapter 15.

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