VSTO Virtual Labs

For those of you not familiar with Virtual Labs, they are a great way to try out technology without having to install a bunch of stuff or download a VPC.  As Robert likes to say, "Virtual Labs = Free Training:)."  I just came across these Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) 2008 labs.  Haven’t tried em myself, but they are on my TODO list!


UPDATE: I just went through these labs.  To give you a little history, I am guilty of being one of those "Office Development, that’s not for real programmers" snobs in a former life.  The last time I actually did any work with VSTO was with the very first version.  I gave up on VSTO because I just wasn’t convinced.  As an evangelist, you really have to believe in the technology you "evangelize" otherwise people see right through you.  Since the first time I saw VSTO 2008 with Office 2007 presented (by Reza Chitsaz) I thought to myself "Wow, I think this VSTO thing is finally coming together."  I’m a little wacky when it comes to technology.  I get really excited by it.  I even called my manager David that day and explained to him that I finally "got" Office Dev and that I would actually consider doing it if I were still doing "real work."  I always joke that evangelism isn’t real work because I don’t actually build real applications for a living anymore.  Since my epiphany, I have seen Joel do quite a few VSTO 2008 / Office 2007 presentations.  I have continued to "believe."  However, I had never actually given VSTO 2008 a test drive.  Well, I am glad I did.  I’m about to say something I thought I would NEVER say.  Office Dev is pretty cool!  There, I said it. 

If you still don’t "believe" in Office Dev, then I’m not going to change your mind with words.  Hopefully, I have made you curious enough to at least give it a test drive yourself.  Does Office Dev eliminate the need to build web or standalone desktop apps?  Heck no, but now that I "get it" and now that VSTO 2008 / Office 2007 give you the features that make it worthwhile, there are so many scenarios for which I would consider solving with a VSTO 2008 solution. 

The last lab (part 4) is all about building SharePoint workflows with VSTO 2008.  Now, I have never built a workflow for SharePoint using Visual Studio 2005, but I’ve seen Robert do it.  It’s quite a bit of work .  There are like 15 or so laborious steps.  I think people who have built workflows for SharePoint using Visual Studio 2005 will be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is in Visual Studio 2008.  It’s as simple as:

1. Create workflow project

2. Design/Code the workflow

3. Press F5 to debug.

Anyway, VSTO rant over.

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