Add-in Overview

Add-ins super-charge Microsoft Office with the features you need to automate business processes and increase productivity.

While the Microsoft Office platform is rich in features there are many situations where the need to extend functionality or add automation is required. This is where Microsoft Office Add-in technology becomes invaluable. Some simple examples of Add-in applications include extending analytic functions in Microsoft Excel or adding a subscription based email process to Outlook. Office Add-ins supply this capability while working within the framework of the host application. Hughes Financial Services has extensive experience in developing add-ins with particular emphasis on products for Microsoft Excel and Outlook.

Add-ins have been present in some form in all versions of Microsoft Office. Prior to Office 97, Add-in support consisted of simple templates, macros and other software extensions. Office 97 added a rich Visual Basic for Application environment to the mix. Finally, with the advent of Office 2000, Microsoft introduced a technology call COM (Component Object Model) Add-ins. Microsoft COM objects are typically compiled into DLL's (Dynamic Linked Libraries) for maximum performance and to secure the code.

COM is an architecture designed to segment software code into self-contained objects, or components. Each component supports event interfaces which handle all communication to and from the object. COM is the basis for all Microsoft Office automation. This automation, also known as "OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) automation," is a technology that lets any program take advantage of the features and content of any Microsoft Office software product. As one example, COM allows a programmer to create a new software program that incorporates all the analytical capabilities available in Excel simply by automating Excel in the background to provide the needed results.

All of our add-ins employ the command bar object model of Office as a user interface. This technology is uniformly available on all Microsoft Office software. The command bar interface is exactly the same as provided by the standard office user interface and can include buttons, drop down lists and links. The Add-in is automatically tied in to the load and unload events of Office so there is no need for a separate start-up. HFS also includes set-up programs for all Add-ins so that installing and uninstalling the product is simplified.

The following articles will discuss typical applications where HFS Add-ins are in use. The Outlook example discusses using an Add-in to automate an email subscription process. The power of Add-ins allows Outlook to manage workflow and provide much the same functionality as a dedicated server. While we have developed many different Add-ins for Excel our focus will be on CDXStreamer™. This patented technology is ideal to be able to rapidly import data from web services, web pages, databases or other sources into a spreadsheet with the click of your mouse.