20: Add-ins in Visual Studio .NET

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20: Add-ins
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In this chapter, we ll rst tell you a little about COM add-ins Then, we ll show you how to create your own add-in that will enable you to copy XML data from one form and paste it into another Once you have a good understanding of the basics, we ll show you how to combine a COM addin with an ActiveX control to create your own Custom Task Pane that will show you the XML structure and data in the currently opened InfoPath form Finally, we ll show you how to create managed add-ins with Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Of ce System (VSTO 2005 SE)
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Introduction to COM Add-ins
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As we mentioned, COM add-ins provide a way for you to extend an application in order to include your own features COM add-ins have been a standard way to extend the functionality of various applications for some time Therefore, as you would imagine, this technology is well documented in MSDN However, to understand the process of creating a COM add-in, it is necessary to understand a little about the technology Before we show you how to create your own COM add-in, let s start with a little background that will help move things along This introduction will give you a very brief overview of COM add-ins A full drill-down into all the intricacies of COM add-ins is outside the scope of this book To acquire a deeper understanding of the technology, please refer to the MSDN online documentation for add-ins (referenced in the Appendix) As the name implies, the COM add-in technology is based on the Component Object Model As such, COM add-ins are typically written in unmanaged code such as C++, but, through the use of COM interop, you can write your COM add-ins in managed code as well A COM add-in is compiled into a dynamically linked library (DLL) that is then registered to load in one or more applications such as Excel, InfoPath, or Word Depending on how it is registered, your add-in can be used in a single application or in multiple applications Therefore, you can easily create one add-in that can add similar functionality to many applications at once Although each application that supports COM add-ins may have its own object model (OM), some objects are common across the different OMs (The list of shared objects is available in the MSDN online documentation
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Introduction to COM Add-ins
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See the MSDN articles referenced in the Appendix for more information) Therefore, if you want to create an add-in to work in multiple applications, you should write code that accesses only those shared objects, unless, of course, you want to provide different functionality for each individual application Since this is a book about InfoPath 2007, however, we will concentrate only on those aspects of COM add-ins speci c to InfoPath Also, since InfoPath has its own OM, we won t limit our add-ins to the shared object model
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IDTExtensibility2 Interface In order for a component to be considered a COM add-in, it must implement the IDTExtensibility2 interface (see the MSDN reference listed in the Appendix) Through this interface, the add-in is alerted of various events that occur in the application, such as when the application is started, when it is shut down, when the add-in is loaded, and so on Table 201 lists the methods of the IDTExtensibility2 interface It is through the OnConnection method of the IDTExtensibility2 interface that the COM add-in obtains access to the application object of the hosting application The application object is one of those shared
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Table 201: IDTExtensibility2 Interface Methods Method Name OnAddInsUpdate OnBeginShutdown OnConnection Description
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Is called when a change occurs to the add-in Is called when the application is being shut down Occurs when the add-in is loaded by the host application Occurs when the add-in is unloaded by the host application Is called when the application has completed its startup procedure as long as the add-in is set to load at application startup
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