How to develop my first outlook puglin?

Graham Keellings
I have a few decades professional experince in embedded systems, plus good self-taught AngaulrJs, PHP & MySQL
Now, I would like to code an Outlook plugin-in (which will communicate with my won server-side code), and have no idea where to start. Googling gives lots of information, some of it conflicting, and it is difficult to tell what is up to date.
I want my plug-in to be compatible with as many current business users as possible. Am I supposed to code in C#, or JavaScript?  How do I go about developing, debugging & testing it? Do I need to add it to the app store during development? Must I distribute it through eh app store, or can users get it direct from me? 
I find a lot by Googling, but can't judge which is the good stuff, so would prefer an answer from someone experienced, rather than following a random search result.
Can anyone recommend a good book, tutorial or website? I am currently only interested in Outllok, and that is likely ro remain so, so need to consider other Office components.
Thanks in advance for your help, and please accept my apologies for asking such a basic question, but I would rather have a definitive answer, and start of fin the correct direction.
8 Replies
That looks excellent. Thank you very much!

With that alone, I can get started, and be confident that I am on the right track, as you are an MVP. Google had lost connced me that I needed a VSTO, so this has saved me going wrong.

As, I said, with that alone, I can start, and ask more quesiotns later, if needed. But, if you have time ...

My add-in should do the following, will that be possible? Allow composinng an email through a form, which builds it togther from the address book/contacts and standard form input, like edit boxes, cobo boxes, etc. It should then invoke an AJAX function to get some data from the server and use that in the email body, and finally send tailored emails to each recipient who was chosen from the contactss or added manually.

Is that acheivable, do you know? Thanks again :)

I think you can by implementing so called add-in commands:


As described in the article your add-in command can appear when composing an e-mail message. From there you could open a Task Pane rendering your Form and call the services you need. 

That sounds great.For anyone else reading this, there is lots of good info at and code samples at
A very stupid question, I am sure - am I suppose dto use Visual Stduio? If so what project type do I choose?

As it happens I have an exstiging Angu;ar Js app which I just want to drop in. Do I just have to add a manifest to that?

And, how do I go about debugging it?
What I don't undesratnd about using Visual Studio to create my app is that I have to choose either VB or C# - why? Or should I be creating it this way?

And, after that, how woudl I debug it - whether from desktop Outlook, or from ?

You can use Visual Studio if that's what you prefer. There's also the Yeoman generator as described in the article you're pointing to which allows you to use basically any editor you'd like. Choosing C# or VB determines the language used in the Web Application which is created as part of the project (your solution will contain 2 projects, 1 holding the App Manifest and 1 for your Web Application). 


When using Visual Studio, debugging is provided through the familiar F5 experience. Just pressing F5 builds and configures your project for debugging. I'm not sure what the best debugging experience would be when using the Yeoman Generator.



Thank you very much for your reply.

I did manage some small success with the Yeoman generated code.

I still don't udnerstand why a "web add-in" would have VB or C# code - how is that going to run cross-platform?

I did try breapoints in the JS of my generated project, but teh breakpoints were never hit. Guess I need to experiemtn some more. Thanks again for your help.

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