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Best Programming Language for Interacting with MS Word Other than VBA…

Posted on 2011-09-27
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hi All

<Rant> MS Word macro security is driving me nuts.  I have a bunch of macros bundled up and signed with a digital certificate.  I keep getting support calls from people who don't read the message telling them to adjust their macro security settings and think the macros just don't work.  And adding trusted locations etc. is way to difficult for the average word user.  </Rant>

There are a few other issues as well… I'd like to be able to:
- fix bugs without having to modify the entire project and reinstall everything
- add new language without having to reinstall the entire package
- introduce updates from the internet

Most of the functionality the macros provide includes:
- assigning document information
- enforcing formatting rules
- checking for consistency in formatting
- updating cross references
- inserting pictures etc in a consistent way

If I'm not mistaken there are other ways besides using VBA macros to control MS Word…?  

I'm looking for information on what would be a good approach to replacing macros to eliminate current frustrations (or eliminate current frustrations while keeping macros) and also, anticipating that I will need to hire a programmer, what skill set should I be advertising for?

Question by:DrTribos
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LVL 37

Accepted Solution

TommySzalapski earned 1400 total points
ID: 36714983
Instead of creating macros you can use VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office) to create add-ins. There are great because they can be integrated automatically with the menu/ribbon and can be programmed in any of the .NET languages (C#, Visual Basic, Visual C++)

For simple things, vbScript also works well. You can also add the Word libraries in any .NET project and manipulate the Word files from there, but I'm guessing your best bet is the add-in.

You would create your own ribbon/menu category and put all your macros in there. Add-ins do not need macro security since they are installed.
LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 36714987
"They are great" not "There are great"
LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 36715002
And you would just advertise for someone who can program add-ins for Word.
Anyone who's worth his salt as a programmer and knows C#, Visual Basic, or VBA could figure it all out very quickly too.
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LVL 45

Expert Comment

ID: 36715019
re rant - yes, (users only read things when the telephone support isn't available?) adding to trusted sites isn't an obvious thing to do AND it might not be allowed with internal IT regulations.  

I've even had the person responsible for IT at a client telephoning me and asking how do I do that, they couldn't find the setting.
LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 36727338
Hi TommySzalapski  -  Thank you for your comments. "Add-ins do not need macro security" is exactly the information that I need.  

Hi AndyAinscow - Yes, it's a sad day when you have to explain to a clients' IT representative how to add a trusted location or enable macros to run...  in my experience I'd estimate 90% + of people that I've helped could have done it themselves... very few organizations seem to be lock down PCs to the point users are unable to change macro settings or trusted locations....


I am guessing that I would need to be prepared to purchase Visual Studio - this seems to come in many flavours ranging in price from ~$350 to 20k! When I go to the MS website to look at the comparison I have given very unhelpful information (comparison seems limited to system requirements!).  Once I have Visual Studio I need to install the VSTO upgrade, seems free?

- will the users of the macros / addins require any special infrastructure on their PC (not including MS Word) in order to use them?

- what version of Visual Studio would be suitable - there are so many! The best guidance as to my requirements would be: 'I want to convert all macros to addins' so functionaly does not need to offer more than what I can do in VBA.

LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 36731938
and then there is something like this... http://netoffice.codeplex.com/
LVL 37

Assisted Solution

TommySzalapski earned 1400 total points
ID: 36755569
Visual Studio Professional with be all you would need. Yes, the VSTO is a free addition. All the users will have to do is run your install file and it will work.

The link you posted still uses C# or Visual Basic which you might be able to get a non MS compiler for, but the VSTO will be cleaner.
LVL 15

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36805759
TommySzalapski, thanks for your guidance - much appreciated

AndyAinscow, thanks for the rant support  ;-)

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