The Outlook Is Grim
March 22, 2010 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I need help getting up to speed on writing Windows apps that interact with MS Office (specifically Outlook). I am completely lost. Show me the way.

I'm a fairly capable programmer of C, Java, Objective C, Perl, and a few other languages and have most of my experience on Unix and the iPhone. I've found myself in the position that I need to write (or have written) a Windows program that will read some data from Microsoft Outlook, and then use that data in some HTML calls. It will also have to insert data into the Outlook repository.

The problem is, I have almost no knowledge of Windows programming. The last Windows program I wrote was 15 years ago in my CS program. In my browsing about the web in trying to answer this question, I've found that there is a lot of stuff that *might* be what I need, but I'm not really sure.

Do I want this to be an Outlook add-in, or just an app that reads Outlook data? I don't know.

What languages/technologies should I be looking at? VB? VBA? VSTO? .Net? I have no idea.

If anyone can give me a shove in the right direction, I'd appreciate it.

Suggestions on how to aquire the skills I need to implement this would be appreciated as well. (books, websites, etc.)

Alternatively, if anyone can suggest a way to find an experienced programmer that wants to pick up a side job, I'm ok with that too. (Is there a good website for these types of jobs?)
posted by perrce to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Start here.
posted by flabdablet at 5:46 PM on March 22, 2010

Of the available programming environments, .NET is probably the one that will cause you the least long term pain. The only real downside is the need for your pre-Vista users to install a massive .NET runtime even to perform the simplest, tiniest tasks, but there's more and more .NET stuff around all the time and chances are they've already done it for some other reason.
posted by flabdablet at 5:51 PM on March 22, 2010

.Net is definitely your starting point. From there you need to learn the Object Model/API of Outlook. From my limited understanding, an Outlook Add-In will require lots more plumbing and infrastructure code but will look more polished. Standalone apps that call into Outlook are often less flashy but you can accomplish a lot with a few lines of code.
posted by mmascolino at 6:16 PM on March 22, 2010

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