Office Development – Coding in Script Lab

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One of the nice things in Script Lab is that you can connect it to GitHub allowing you to share your code snippets or import code snippets from other people. If you opened the Script Lab Task Pane you will notice this little person icon with an even smaller plus sign.

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With this button you can authorize Script Lab to access your GitHub account where it needs read and write access to read or write Gists. According to GitHub:

Gists are a great way to share your work. You can share single files, parts of files, or full applications. You can access gists at https://gist.github.com.

A great option to either store your scripts that you created by Script Lab for your own use but even better: to share the code with others. Get feedback, or simply make someone happy by providing the code to the community!

Clicking the button will ask you for your permission on your GitHub account. The permissions are not all that shocking, you just give permission to create, edit and get Gists from your account to be able to show it in Script Lab.

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After providing your authorization you can go into your GitHub account and see the permission you just granted to Script Lab:

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From there you can also revoke the permissions if you think they shouldn’t need the access anymore. In general, it is a good idea to go in there every now and then to evaluate who can access your code and are they still in the position where they need access. Over time the number of permissions can grow while maybe you don’t use many of the services anymore. If so, time to clean up while you are at it!

Now that you provided access to your Gists you’ll notice the little person icon changed into your profile icon:

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Clicking the little profile icon will allow you to see the attached GitHub account and if you like, just to sign out of your account. Cancel will bring you back into Script Lab (I probably would have titled the button “Close” instead of “Cancel”, not it gives you the impression that Cancel will disconnect the GitHub account from Script Lab, but it doesn’t).

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Now, your GitHub account is connected to Script Lab you can share your code snippets to Gists on GitHub. This is done through the “ Share” button. The share button has options to:

Publish a new Public Gist (for everyone to see), a new Private Gist (for your eyes only), Copy to Clipboard or to export the snippets:

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Using the option “New public gist” will push the content you created in Script Lab to GitHub. Make sure that before you do this the title property of the Script Lab project is what you want to call it. This will be adopted by GitHub as you’ll see a bit further down in this blogpost. The confirmation looks like this and will provide you the URL of the Gist that you just created. With this URL you can import the Gist at a later time.

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If you take the URL and open it in the browser you’ll see your code on GitHub:

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It created a new Gist, nicely formatted on GitHub and the menu changed into “Update existing gist”. If you edit your code, push the “Update existing gist” option Script Lab will go out to GitHub again and save the changes.

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This is how it looks like on GitHub. Going into the revisions tab you can see that the line where I changed the color was updated. The line with color red was removed and replaced by the line with the color blue in it.

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How to restore your gist?

On GitHub if you navigate to your gist you can find on the top right the URL that comes with the gist. Obviously you can also just use the URL you just used to navigate, but GitHub will provide you several other options such an embedded url to put it on your website or clone the code. Here we copy the URL:

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Next you go into the Script Lab menu (the ‘hamburger’ menu top left) to show you the Import option. Clicking the Import option provides you with a new dialog where you can enter the snippet URL or GitHub Gist ID:

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Enter the URL and import the snippet. Now your Script Lab is filled with the code from the Gist, ready for you to continue your coding.

In follow-up blogposts, I will use this to test and experiment with some of the JavaScript for Office (aka OfficeJS) APIs. I really like this export option to gists. Maybe I will build a small collection of snippets for all the tested APIs for later reference.

Office Development – Installing and Running Yeoman

Office Development - Yeoman

In the previous two posts around creating your first Word add-in we installed Node JS in the first post Office Development – Installing Node.js and installed Git in the second post Office Development – Installing Git. If you haven’t done this already move along and do that first.

In this post, third in the series of building your first Word Add-in (based on the JavaScript API for Office) we will install and use another tool called Yeoman.

Yeoman

Yeoman used to be a member of the social class in late medieval to early modern England (source wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeoman) but these days it is the name for an open source scaffolding tool, released at Google I/O 2012. Yeoman runs as a command-line tool and will provide you with a boiler plate project for several different solutions. Because the software is open sourced you can find it on GitHub: https://github.com/yeoman

Over time there have been created many generators for Yeoman to do all sorts of things such as creating website starters and more. The reason why we discuss it here is because they (the Office Dev Team) also created a generator that allows you to quickly build a Microsoft Office Add-in project using the Yeoman scaffolding tool.

You can use this if you simply want to start creating an add-in with a basic text editor other than Visual Studio. Of course, you can also use more advanced text editors including Visual Studio of Visual Studio Code but just to show you that you don’t need much to create your first add-in you can use this option.

Installation is easy (provided you installed the tools from the other two blogposts):

Open a Command window (Windows Flag, Command) and run:

npm install -g yo generator-office

This will globally (-g) install the Yeoman (yo) package and the Office Generator (generator-office) on your machine. The routine ends in an automatically engaged final check by yodoctor:

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You can also check it yourself by running the command:

npm list -g -depth=0

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If all went well you should see, as you can see in the picture above, at least yo@<version> and generator-office@<version>.

Now will be the time to generate our first Word Add-in … hooray!

Enter the command line command:

yo office

This will kick off a series of questions needed to create your add-in based on your input:

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Except for the name I opted to keep the defaults. You can select other than the defaults but for now keeping the defaults is ok.

Yeoman starts generating the add-in for you and in the meantime a website is opened with instructions. The instructions take you by the hand and will guide you through the process when the add-in finished generating.

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At this time generating your add-in is probably finished, so follow the instructions from the webpage by clicking Next

According to this page the next command should be:

npm start

This will start the local server hosting the add-in at:

https://localhost:3000

As you can see it will be hosted at a ‘secure’ site (https) on port 3000. This ‘secure’ site could give you some headache however. Initially the site needs the firewall to be opened:

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I’d recommend unchecking the Public Networks checkbox and only to allow it on your Private Networks for now.

Continuing the process will result in another security issue:

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Another no-go? Well, maybe … but let’s click “Details” first and find out what this is all about. So far not a real smooth experience for the novice office add-in developer don’t you think? Go ahead, click “Details”:

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Ah! What it says is that your PC doesn’t trust the website’s security certificate … and to be more specific it found that the name of the hostname on the security certificate is different than the one you are trying to visit.

This is quite logical because you are visiting your localhost and the website’s security certificate, as you will find out a bit later, is signed to by “Internet Widgits Pty Ltd” so against all recommendations continue and click the “Go on to the webpage” link.

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And there you have it! Your first Word Add-in!

“Well, hel-lo … there is no Word here, what do you mean” you might say … and you are right (again).

Although I explained in my earlier blogposts that Add-ins built by using the JavaScript for Office APIs basically are websites hosted in the Office client such as Word you’ve seen here that your really are building a website.

The security issues will however throw a big issue loading this website in the Word client. It will simply be rejected as it appeared to be unsafe to run.

Solving the certificate issue is a story on itself so I will put this in a separate blogpost.

What you’ve seen so far is that you built your new add-in by simply using some web development tools. No Visual Studio installations, nothing of this all. Obviously, you can use Visual Studio to create Office Add-ins, and I will show you that in another series of blogposts. For now we still need to finalize our first journey of creating this Word Add-in but we need to overcome our security issues first.

And therefor, to be continued …

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