This week, Microsoft unveiled its programmability and extensibility plans for Microsoft Office 11--a new set of technologies dubbed Visual Studio Tools for Office. Developers can use the tools to create custom Office 11 solutions based on Microsoft Word 11 and Microsoft Excel 11 documents and XML. The technologies support advanced programming languages such as C# and Visual Basic .NET, as well as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

"Microsoft is focused on creating great opportunities for developers, and Visual Studio Tools for Office enables developers to build solutions that provide an intuitive end-user experience," said Tom Button, vice president of Developer Tools. "With .NET-connected software and the power of Office, developers can create a broad range of applications that span from devices to datacenter servers, and now to Office."

Applications created with Visual Studio Tools for Office will run from a task pane area in Word and Excel documents. Developers who use the tools will have complete access to all the features of Visual Studio .NET 2003, including its professional programming editor and debugger, Windows Forms technology, and server-side components. Visual Studio Tools for Office will ship alongside Office 11 in mid-2003. Pricing and availability details are forthcoming.