Friday, May 12, 2006

Support for Office Document Creation Under IIS 6.

This question has come up over-and-over for years. See David Wang's blog here of why this can't be made to work well if at all. David is an MSDN blogger and IIS a member development team. His answer should be the final word on this issue. My additions follow: ( so much for the final of anything) For years web developers have tried to automate MS Office from web applications. In my first web project it was the first thing I tried to do with ASP. After all, we can instantiate a Word session from a C or VB application so why not do it in a web session. Seems like a no-brainer for extending Office to the web. So then why don't we see every web site generating Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents for us? First of all I don't believe MS Office is licensed for this kind of use. Secondly see Davids blog for why this is not technically feasible. There are third party objects that can create and edit Office documents without an Interactive Session. This is a fairly large after market for ISVs. I am absolutely not sure but I believe that VSTO also allows for a certain amount of document creation and management without an Interactive session. SQL Server Report Server can generate Excel and Word documents on an IIS application instance. In a user group, N3UG, this question was posed to Peter Laudati (MSDE) as regards PowerPoint support in VSTO. The answer returned (via Miguel Castro MVP) was that there are no plans for PP support in VSTO in this or the next release. I guess we are stuck with third party solutions. If Office 12, which will have support for XML everything, supplies a DTD with PP then we should be able to use this to create and modify PP to some degree. My guess is that PP will not have complete XML support.

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