There’s lots of good information available for working with and developing Office applications, it’s just a question of knowing where to find it. Here are some of the links I find most useful.
MVP websites
MSDN forums & blogs
Office 2010 Language References
Office Fluent UI (Ribbon)
Office Open XML file formats
Pre-2007 Office binary file formats
Office 2013 “Apps”
Creating spell checker extensions

Office end-user forums for non-programming related questions can be found on Answers. Generally, you’ll find many more people how know how to use the application here than in the programming forums. There are also informative sites maintained by (former) Office MVPs:

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Office Development

Over time, the technologies  for developing with Office applications have grown and diverged. Since Office 1997 the core Office applications have object models (APIs) designed to work with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), a subset and extension of classic VB. Everyone who wants to automate an Office application works with these interfaces; .NET developers tend to say they work with the “interop” (short for interoperability). Discussions about this type of Office development are best asked in the following MSDN forums:

VBA developers are accustomed to using the Help installed with Office. Other developers can use that, or they can consult the Language Reference information on-line on MSDN. From this starting point you can access the information for each Office application.
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In Office 2007 the Ribbon UI replaced the toolbars and menus that provided the user interface since the beginning of the Office applications for Windows. In Office 2010 the concept was expanded to include context (right-click) menus and the choices available through the File menu (the “Backstage”) and is now known as the “Office Fluent UI”.

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A new technology was introduced with the new file formats in Office 2007. It is no longer necessary to automate an Office application in order to create and work with Office files. Any programming language that can work with standard ZIP packages and XML can manipulate an “Office Open XML” file directly.

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Since release of the new file formats, the specifications for the old, proprietary binary file formats have been made public. For those needing to work with pre-2007 files outside the Office application:

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 With Office 2013, Microsoft has introduced a new technology “Apps for Office” that bases on HTML5 and JavaScript. It works both with the “Web apps” as well as with the traditional desktop installation of Office and is tightly integrated into SharePoint. At the moment, the capabilities of an “App” to interact with an Office application are severely limited when compared to working with the traditional object model. An “App” can basically only interact with the current selection, not with the entire application or document.

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Developers regularly ask how they can hook into Word’s spell check or design their own spelling dictionary. It’s not possible to use the built-in engines and dictionaries provided with Office, but Microsoft does provide an interface that third-party engines can hook into. More information can be found here.

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3 Responses to “Links”

  1.   wordmeister Says:

    Hi John
    I saw your message, but I’m afraid I don’t have any new ideas on the topic, which is why I didn’t answer. It’s simply a fact that macros run more slowly in the new (Open XML file format) versions. I don’t know whether that has to do with the new file formats, or whether it’s security related, or a bit of both. Currently, it’s very clear that Microsoft isn’t particularly concerned about VBA, or even classical “interop” (automation). Toward the outside, it’s completely convinced that the new “apps” introduced with 2013 are going to take over. Personally, I’m skeptical, but the results won’t be in until the “market” has “voted”, which will be a question of years. — Cindy

  2.   John Davidson Says:

    Hi Cindy

    Have you had any further insights on the Word macros running slow in 2007 / 2010 etc.? I ‘ve just added a couple of thoughts to the thread at:

    after reading the dialogue at:

    Any further ideas would be very welcome.


    John Davidson

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