VSTO & .NET & Excel

February 22, 2008

VSTO Power Tools

Filed under: VSTO & Excel — Dennis M Wallentin @ 6:32 pm

Andrew Whitechapel announced yesterday that a new toolkit for VSTO and VSTA now is available for download

I will test most of the tools and review some of them here. For me these kinds of tools are very important as they can both save time during the development cycle and when troubleshooting targeting computers.

What should be noted is the following:

  • The toolkit is available “as is” meaning MSFT does not give any officially support for it.
  • The toolkit explicit target Visual Studio 2008 and Office 2007. I will test the VSTO Troubleshooter tool with Excel 2003 to find out if it is compatible or not.

Those of us who use VSTO should take the time to test and to give feedback in order to improve the toolkit. Does anyone know how we can communicate the feedback?

For me it’s too early to implement any of the class libraries ‘Office Custom UI’ manager and ‘Office Interop API extensions’ in production solutions. Nevertheless, it looks very promising!

Kind regards,



  1. Dennis – Andrew’s blog accepts comments. If it’s like the other blogs at msdn, it should keep accepting them for a week or so. Beyond that, I’d comment on his latest blog entry, and hope he’s clever enough to act on your report rather than delete it as off topic.

    Comment by jonpeltier — February 22, 2008 @ 7:20 pm

  2. Jon,

    Yes, You’re right but I thought that any feedback may get lost due to all the pingbacks.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — February 22, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

  3. I am currently developing an add-in for Excel 2003 written in C#, VS 2008. I am having a few problems getting it to work. Is .NET 3.5 compatible with Excel 2003?

    Comment by John — April 8, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

  4. Hi John,

    What kind of issues do you experience?

    My standard approach is to code against version 2.0 of .NET Framework. In this way I also get workable solutions in an enviroment where 3.5 is in use.

    So far I can conclude that Vista has given me some troubles when I use 2002 or 2003 of Excel.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — April 8, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  5. Hi Dennis,

    I am still trying to determine whether it is a bug in my code or something wrong with .NET 3.5 and Excel 2003.

    I have a couple of issues. First, when I run the automation add-in (it is a custom formula add-in), the function works. But, part of the feature I have is that on the second call to the formula, it uses LINQ to search an internal cache of objects. It is on this subsequent call that I get a VALUE! error in the cell.

    The other problem I have encountered is when I explicitly tell Excel to load the .NET 3.5 runtime by listing it in the excel.exe.config file, I get the generic #NAME! error.

    When I run the code in a console client instead of Excel, it works as expected. So, I am trying to determine if it is possible to run a 3.5 runtime in Excel 2003. Am I applying the wrong technology to Excel 2003? I am not sure. It is entirely possible that I have coded some kind of bug. So, I am just trying to eliminate a bug possibility.

    My eventual goal is to use WCF from an Excel 2003 client to a Windows service. So, again, I am wondering if this is possible or am I wasting time with these technologies.

    Thanks for your quick reply. Any insight you may have would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by John — April 8, 2008 @ 7:12 pm

  6. Hi John,

    I have not yet ported myself to LINQ and .NET 3.5 but:

    Eric Carter has recently updated a blogpost on automation add-ins:

    As for the loading process of .NET 3.5 I would test to use an Excel loader, i e a standalone tool to:
    1. First to check if 3.5 is running or not. If the later load it.
    2. Second load Excel.

    By this approach You avoid the excel.exe.config file (which can be easily overwritten unless the enviroment is 100 % controled) and
    maybe solve the error generate by the present solution.

    In my experience we should be less focused on new tehcnologies when working with older versions of Excel. MSFT focus only on Excel 2007 and the next coming version as they developed with the other new technologies in mind. In other words, I doubt that MSFT will make any patches to solve any bugs between Excle 2003 and .NET.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — April 9, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

  7. power tools can really save you from a lot of headache, specially when the job is very hard ~”.

    Comment by Electric Lighting — November 18, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

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