Technology / Microsoft Office
The Microsoft Office suite of applications can be manipulated by another application, or used as the host environment for a program that extends the application's capabilities.

Microsoft Office applications support the Automation interface, which means that other programs can use the functionality of the applications. For example, a program could take advantage of the printing or formatting capabilities of Word, use the graphing facilities of Excel, or open reports stored in an Access database.

Using MS Office as a component of a system saves development time becase complex functionality doesn't have to be written from scratch, and also offers the reassurance that the functionality has been thoroughly tested. With a large amount of company data stored in Access databases, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents, there is a strong argument for writing systems that report directly from this data, or can even be run from within the Office application.

MicroMac recently had the requirement of automating an operation that depended heavily on a library of technical documents created using Word. To achieve this the the structure of the documents was formalised, so that they could be submitted to a database, but could also continue to be edited using Word.

This functionality was implemented using a Word Add-In that displayed the submitted documents. The program also provided an interface to perform tasks such as re-generating the documents from the database for further editing, or printing documents with bar-code information for the automation of subsequent tasks.

Related Links
To find out more about the current version of Microsoft Office, visit the Microsoft web-site at: