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Microsoft Office 2003 Editions: Overview of Developer TechnologiesSeptember 2004

Learn about Visual Studio and Visual Studio Tools for Office version 2003.

Network Deployment and Updating Models

With Office 2003 Editions, there are several types of solutions that you can deploy, manage and update from a server. This is a dramatic departure from the previous options available to developers that invariably required you to register COM DLLs manually on desktop computers.

Network Deployment Benefits

Being able to deploy the code for a solution from a network server enables you to deploy and manage it more easily. This is a primary reason why Web-based solutions are so popular. Until the advent of the .NET Framework and the new options for Office 2003 Editions solutions, deploying client-side code was particularly problematic. Managing a solution is also easier from a server as you can publish a newer version on the server and the solution automatically updates itself.

Server-based deployments also improve the security of desktop solution code by managing more of the application and data access privileges from a centralized server within a trusted zone. Assemblies built with managed code can also follow robust .NET security protocols.

Network Deployment Technology

With Office 2003 Editions, there are two technologies available for deploying solution code from a network. The first technology is for smart document solutions built using the ISmartDocument interface with an XML solution manifest. The second is for solutions built using the Visual Studio Tools for Office. Both only support document-based solutions for Word and Excel.

In each case the deployment works by placing the solution code on a trusted server and giving the user the document or template for the solution. When the user opens the document, assuming they have a network connection, appropriate security checks are made. If all security checks pass, the custom code is downloaded to the local computer. Periodically when the user opens the document, the solution checks the server location for updates making solution maintenance easier.

Smart document solutions using the ISmartDocument interface. For this type of solution, the document contains a custom document property that points to the XML manifest file. When the document is opened, Office 2003 Editions verifies that the manifest file is digitally signed, and second, Office 2003 Editions verifies that the code components included with the smart document are also signed. The code must also exist on a trusted server location. This type of smart document solution, if built with managed code, also undergoes .NET-based security checks. For more details about smart document security, see the Office 2003 Smart Document SDK.

If security checks pass, you can choose to install the solution code locally or keep it on the server, depending on how you configure the solution. If you configure the solution to install all solution files locally and the solution does not need other network resources, the solution can work offline. Solution updates occur based on version numbers for each individual file in the manifest. The solution contains an XML element that signifies how often to check for updates.

Visual Studio Tools for Office version 2003 and "Visual Studio Tools for Office version 2005 (Beta)". For this type of solution, the document also contains a custom document property that points, in this case, to the main interfacing assembly. The solution does not run unless it has full trust according to .NET-based code access security. If security checks pass, the solution code is downloaded into the Internet Explorer cache for the solution to

© 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Page 20 By using or providing feedback on these materials, you agree to the attached license agreement.

To comment on this paper or request more documentation on these developer features, contact us at O12Devdx@microsoft.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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