About a year back, the greater part of 3Sharp was busy churning out sample applications for the FabriKam 3.1 Solutions platform. The Project Site Manager Solution was one such application that integrated Excel, SharePoint and Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) to create an Excel application for managing tasks in SharePoint team sites. It allowed a user, typically a project manager, to compare task progress with other task related data – say budget and deadlines – and to do things that one can only do in Excel like charting and pivoting. That was cool.
Enter 2005. We discovered a beta version of the next generation VSTO. New features and capabilities of this platform were, indeed, staggering! So, we decided to turbocharge our old Project site Manager Application and power it with VSTO 2005. The new data caching and data island features allowed the application to take SharePoint data offline with the Excel workbook. For the first time, we could customize the actions pane the way we wanted to with custom user controls. No need for annoying WinForm pop-ups any more!