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Microsoft Office 11, An App Platform

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Aiming to turn its upcoming Office 11 business productivity suite into an
extensible platform for business applications, Microsoft Monday unveiled plans for a set of tools that will allow
Visual Studio .NET developers to build business-specific applications based
on Word and Excel documents.

Dubbed Visual Studio Tools for Office, the technology will allow developers
to design Word and Excel templates with an underlying customer-defined XML
structure, based on corporate, departmental or industry-wide
schemas. In this way, developers will be able to build document-based
applications with context-specific help and supporting information.

The tools support the Visual Basic .NET and Visual C# .NET programming
languages, and developers will also have access to other features of Visual
Studio .NET 2003, including its editor and debugging environment, and
designers for creating user interfaces, working with data and XML, and
building server-side code and components.

Developers will also be able to leverage other features of Office 11, like
smart documents and smart tags, to help build tailored applications for
customers by providing rich user interfaces.

Smart documents help with the creation of XML-based applications that can
give end users contextual data, help content and workflow, and present
information through a programmable task pane when a user needs it. In
addition, Microsoft said it has improved smart tags in Office 11 so that
they are capable of providing content-specific actions or dynamically
modifying a document’s content.

Office 11 also includes integrated support for XML Web services, Extensible
Stylesheet Language (XSL) and XPath, which developers can also leverage
when designing new applications.

Both Office 11 and Visual Studio Tools for Office will be made available in
mid-2003. Microsoft said it will release pricing and availability details
at a later date.

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