Custom task panes for Microsoft Office
Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel in VB.NET, C#

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Add-in Express Home > Add-in Express for Office and .NET > Online Guide > Add-in Express components > Advanced Outlook regions and Office task panes

Introduction into advanced Outlook regions and advanced task panes

Add-in Express allows creating advanced Outlook regions for Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003 and lower and advanced Office task panes for Excel, Word and PowerPoint 2016 - 2000.

An absolute must-know

Here are the three main points you should be aware of:

  • There are application-specific <Manager> components such as ADXOlFormsManager or ADXEcelTaskPanesManager; every <Manager> component provides the Items collection; each <Item> from the collection binds a <Form>, which is an application-specific descendant of System.Windows.Forms.Form such as ADXOlForm or ADXExcelTaskPane, to the visualization (Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook) and context (Outlook- only) settings.
  • You never create an instance of a <Form> in the way you create an instance of System.Windows.Forms.Form; instead, the <Manager> creates instances of the <Form> for you; the instances are created either automatically or at your request.
  • The Visible property of a <Form> instance is true, when the instance is embedded into a sub-pane of the host window (as specified by the visualization settings) regardless of the actual visibility of the instance; the Active property of the <Form> instance is true, when the instance is actually shown on top of all other instances in the same region.

Note. Anywhere on this page, as well as on other pages, a term in angle brackets, such as <Manager> or <Form> above, specifies a component, class, or class member, the actual name of which is application-dependent. Every such term is covered on the corresponding page of this manual.

Advanced task panes for Word, Excel and PowerPoint

In Add-in Express terms, an advanced Office task pane is a subpane, or a dock, of the main Excel, Word or PowerPoint window that may host native .NET forms. The screenshot below shows a sample task pane embedded into all available Excel docks.

Advanced task panes in Excel 2010

Advanced Outlook form and view regions

In Add-in Express terms, an advanced Outlook region is a subpane, or a dock, of Outlook windows that may host native .NET forms. There are two types of the advanced regions - Outlook view regions (subpanes on the Outlook Explorer window) and Outlook form regions (subpanes of the Outlook Inspector window).

Outlook view regions are specified in the ExplorerLayout property of the item (= ADXOlFormsCollectionItem). Outlook form regions are specified in the InspectorLayout property of the item. That is, one ADXOlFormsCollectionItem may show your form in a view and form region. Note that you must also specify the item's ExplorerItemTypes and/or InspectorItemTypes properties; otherwise, the form (an instance of ADXOlForm) will never be shown.

Outlook view regions:

  • Four regions around the list of mails, tasks, contacts etc. The region names are LeftSubpane, TopSubpane, RightSubpane, BottomSubpane (see the screenshot below). A restriction: those regions are not available for Calendar folders in Outlook 2010 and above.
  • One region below the Navigation Pane - BottomNavigationPane.
  • One region below the To-Do Bar - BottomTodoBar. A restriction: this region is not available in Outlook 2013 and above.
  • One region below the Outlook Bar (Outlook 2000 and 2002 only) BottomOutlookBar

Advanced regions around the Navigation Pane and To-Do Bar

  • Four regions around the Explorer window (Outlook 2007 - 2016) - DockLeft, DockTop, DockRight, DockBottom. The restrictions of these regions are:
    1. Docked regions are not available for pre-2007 versions of Outlook
    2. The Hidden region state is not supported for docked layouts
    3. Docked panes have limitations on minimal height or width

    Four regions around the Explorer window

    • Four regions around the Reading Pane - LeftReadingPane, TopReadingPane, RightReadingPane, BottomReadingPane:

    Four regions around the Outlook Reading Pane

    • The WebViewPane region. Note that it uses Outlook properties in order to replace the items grid with your form (see also WebViewPane)

    The WebViewPane region

    • The FolderView region (see two screenshots below). Unlike WebViewPane, it allows the user to switch between the original Outlook view and your form. A restriction: those regions are not available for Calendar folders in Outlook 2010 and above.

    The FolderView region

    The Reading Pane region

    • The ReadingPane region (see two screenshots above).

    Outlook form regions:

    • Four regions around the body of an email, task, contact, etc. The region names are LeftSubpane, TopSubpane, RightSubpane, BottomSubpane:

    Four regions around the body of an Outlook email, task, contact, etc.

    • The InspectorRegion region (see the two screenshots below) allows switching between your form and the Outlook inspector pane.

    Switching to the InspectorRegion form

    The InspectorRegion region

    The CompleteReplacement inspector region is similar to the InspectorRegion with two significant differences: a) it doesn't show the header and in this way, it doesn't allow switching between your form and the Outlook inspector pane and b) it is activated automatically.

    The Complete Replacement region in Outlook 2010