Creating Outlook Add-Ins with Visual Studio Express 2013

“Add-Ins” are small programs that add additional functionality to an existing piece of software. In the case of Microsoft Outlook, they are commonly written using Visual Basic or Visual C++ (now all part of Visual Studio).

Writing a Microsoft Outlook Add-In has not always been possible with Microsoft Visual Studio Express (Free) Edition. Previously, software developers have been required to purchase a copy of Visual Studio Professional, which can be hard to cost justify if you just wish to knock together a couple of quick applications.

Fortunately, Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition now provides a way to develop Office Add-Ins without the need to pay for the full edition. This article will describe how to achieve this.

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You can download and install “Visual Studio Community Edition from here

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When the installation has completed (it takes a long time and you will need a reboot), start up your copy of Visual Studio and let it run through the configuration routine. You don’t need to change any of the default settings,but consider the following:

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Choose “Not Now” when prompted to “Sign In”. Select a suitable “Development Setting” (I chose “Visual Basic”) and a Colour Scheme. Then, click “Start Visual Studio”.
   
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  Eventually, the package will load up!

However, there is still an additional step to perform before we have everything we need to create an Outlook Add-In (since the basic installation doesn’t include the Office Add-In templates).

So, make sure Visual Studio is closed, and then download / run Office Templates from here (the file should be “OfficeToolsForVS2013Update1.exe”)

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Click “Install” when prompted.
 
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“Accept” the License Agreement.
 
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Wait for the installer to complete, then click “Finish”

Restart “Visual Studio” and click “File” => “New Project”. You should now have the option to create an “Outlook 2013 Add-In” (amongst other useful things). 

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Give your new “Add-In” a name and click “OK” to get started with your coding.

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Enjoy!

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