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The tool, called Visual Studio 2005 tools for the MS Office System (VSTO), allows software developers to extend Word documents and Excel spreadsheets using Visual Studio .net, Visual Basic and C#.
BJ Holtgrewe, senior product manager at Microsoft, said the tools allow server applications to read and write Word and Excel files without the need for Word or Excel to run on the server.
In a demonstration at Tech Ed, Holtgrewe showed an estate agent application using an electronic form running within a Word template. It pulled in data from external sources and allowed the end-user to fill in details in order to produce a contract.
Holtgrewe said by programming such forms in VSTO, users are able to lock down security in Word and Excel via security built into Microsoft's .net programming model for web services.