Friday, August 12, 2011

Changed my blog

Hello, I changed my blog to

Design and Run a Windows Workflow 4.0 within Excel or Word 2010

I have a document at ( that discusses more about integrating Windows Workflow into Office Add-ins.
Please note that an Access version is currently not included in the source code. Please let me know if an Access version would help you.
I prefer to put the documents into my project since it is much faster to authoring in Word and simply upload the document.
Here are a few screenshots from the source code.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Host a Windows Workflow 4.0 Designer in an Office add-in has a new check-in containing source code to host a Windows Workflow 4.0 designer in an Office add-in and a couple of SharePoint 2010 workflow activities. The source code is at and the setup is at
Update: A new check-in has a separate MyData.Workflow.Designer control.

The check-in covers the following Windows Workflow 4.0 topics:
·         Hosting a Windows Workflow 4.0 Designer surface in an Access add-in
o   Note that the WF4 designer can also be hosted in any other Office add-in such as an Excel VSTO project.
·         Custom Activity Designers  
·         Context sensitive WF4 designer expression editor that works with SharePoint 2010 Client Side Object Model (CSOM) list schema
·         Two SharePoint CSOM code activities
o   BasePermissions
o   UpdateListItem
·         Sample workflow that uses the SharePoint CSOM UpdateListItem activity to add a list item to a SharePoint task list
SharePoint CSOM code activities enable some interesting scenarios in that Office Add-in solutions that interact with SharePoint can be created in a declarative fashion. One can simply drag SharePoint 2010 activities into workflow logic and set some arguments to gain SP functionality. The check-in shows two activities as a starting point to develop other SP 2010 workflow activities. Perhaps others would like to contribute to the project by creating other SP 2010 activities. In a few weeks, I will follow up with a descriptive article about hosting a WF4 designer.
Note The designer is part of MyDataAddin. A future check-in will pull the designer out into a stand-alone UserControl.
Setup Note
In addition to running MyDataAddinSetup.msi, the custom activity designers need to be added to the GAC using the gacutil utility.
From the Visual Studio Command Prompt:

gacutil /i {FullPath}\bin\Debug\MyData.ActivityDesigners.dll

Workflow Designer
A workflow designer with custom activities can be hosted in any .NET 4.0 application (in this case an Access add-in). The vision is to create a suite of SP based activities to provide a much faster means to create Office / SharePoint applications.

SharePoint Activity Designer with Context-sensitive expression editor

Monday, June 20, 2011

Microsoft Patterns and Practices and Add-in Exception Logging

This post shows how to use the Microsoft Patterns and Practices (MSPP) Logging Block, and related Security Block, within an Access add-in to log exceptions to the Windows Event Viewer. MSPP is a collection of application blocks to assist developers with implementing common enterprise development scenarios.  Since sensitive logging data could be viewed by an unauthorized user, the post also introduces how to use the MSPP Security Block to prevent unauthorized access to the event log. Along with an introduction to using the security block, SharePoint Foundation 2010 base permission’s are demonstrated as an example authorization provider.


  • Microsoft Patterns and Practices Logging Block
  • Microsoft Patterns and Practices Security Block
  • SharePoint 2010 Base Permissions

Sample Code

Sample code accompanying this post can be viewed and downloaded from The Microsoft Enterprise Library 5.0 is required to compile and use the CodePlex sample.
Logging Block

The MSPP Logging Block is designed to address a wide range of enterprise application logging scenarios including logging exceptions, workflow logs and performance monitoring. This post discusses how to use the Logging Block, along with the Security Block, to enable Access add-in exception logging. Exception logging can be particularly handy to diagnose add-in issues.
 You can read the full document for this post at:

A user with proper permissions can view add-in event entries from within Access.

Logging Dialog Form

Steps to authorize a user:

Step 1 An AuthorizationRuleProvider configuration type configured in msaccess.exe.config defines a RuleProvider
<add type="Microsoft.Practices.EnterpriseLibrary.Security
    .AuthorizationRuleProvider, Microsoft.Practices.EnterpriseLibrary.Security"

Step 2 An AuthorizationProvider also defines authorization Rules
<add expression="R:ManageLog" name="ReadEventViewerLog" />

Step 3
Get the RuleProvider defined in msaccess.exe.config
IAuthorizationProvider ruleProvider =

Step 4
Get the current user identity
WindowsIdentity identity = WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent();

Step 5 Get an IPrincipal object that maps an identity to a role
IPrincipal principal = new GenericPrincipal
  (WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent(), new string[] { "ManageLog" });

Note In a production application, the user’s rule expression would be stored in a secure data store such as a SQL Server Database or the SharePoint Permissions service.
Step 6 A RuleProvider.Authorize() method  determines whether an IPrincipal has ReadEventViewerLog authorization.
canReadEventViewerLog = ruleProvider.Authorize(principal, "ReadEventViewerLog");

Saturday, May 21, 2011

SQL XML with Access

The previous post discussed a SurfaceView object model concept for managed code add-ins. This post shares how to use SQL Server 2005, and above, XML features to implement stored procedure array parameters. The SQL XML code uses the sample Northwind SQL Server database as well as the SurfaceView model. The example scenario sends a <Products><ProductID> xml list that returns a non-contiguous list of products.
Note      The sample code, located at, contains a sql script that adds the SQL CML code to the Northwind sample database. The Northwind sample database is also available at
SelectByIdList Stored Procedure

      @productIds xml


-- @Products table for Products Non-contiguous XML query
DECLARE @Products TABLE (ProductID int)

INSERT INTO @Products (ProductID) SELECT ParamValues.ProductID.value('.','INT')
FROM @productIds.nodes('/Products/ProductID') as ParamValues(ProductID)

    @Products p
ON    Products.ProductID = p.ProductID

-- Test the procedure
EXEC SelectByIdList @productIds=

SelectByIdList() Method
Once the SelectByIdList stored procedure is added to the Northwind database, you need to write some ADO.NET code to call SelectByIdList @productIds sending the stored procedure a XElement containing a non-contiguous list of products. Using SQL XML parameters provides a flexible means to query SQL Server.


private DataTable sp_SelectByIdList(XElement idElements)
  using (StringWriter swStringWriter = new StringWriter())
   using (SqlConnection dbConnection =
  new SqlConnection
       using (SqlCommand dbCommand = new SqlCommand("SelectByIdList", dbConnection))
         dbCommand.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
         SqlParameter parameter = new SqlParameter();
         parameter.ParameterName = "@productIds";
        parameter.DbType = DbType.Xml;
         parameter.Direction = ParameterDirection.Input; // Input Parameter 
         parameter.Value = idElements.ToString();

         SqlDataAdapter da = new SqlDataAdapter(dbCommand);
         return this.northwindDataSet.sp_SelectByIdList;

Create Products XElement

private void selectButton_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
  XElement xmlIdElements = new XElement("Products");

  foreach (DataGridViewRow row in vw_ProductListDataGridView.Rows)
  if (true == Convert.ToBoolean(row.Cells["SelectCheckbox"].Value))
xmlIdElements.Add(new XElement("ProductID", Convert.ToInt32(row.Cells["ProductIDColumn"].Value)));
  //Bind the DataGridView
  sp_SelectByIdListDataGridView.DataSource = sp_SelectByIdList(xmlIdElements);

To run the sample, download and setup the source from  You might need to change the NorthwindConnectionString within Settings.Settings to point to your SQL Server instance.
To run the sample
1)      Open the Dashboard form by clicking the Dashboard ribbon button
2)      Click the SQL Xml Table ribbon button to view the data grid task pane

When you click a product row, the data in the form is bound to the DataGridRow. As you can see from the example, the form is now bound to Access data and SQL Server data. The sample code partially implements ADO.NET data binding. Hopefully, this might get you started bringing SQL Server data and ADO.NET into your Access solutions.
public void BindForm(DataRow currentRow)
  access.TextBox textBox;

   //Fill Form from BindingSource
   //Set Form Textbox values based on ColumnName match
   foreach (DataColumn c in currentRow.Table.Columns)
     if (ThisDatabase.AllForms["Dashboard"].FindControl(c.ColumnName))
textBox = ThisDatabase.AllForms["Dashboard"].Controls(c.ColumnName) as access.TextBox;
         textBox.Value = currentRow[c.ColumnName].ToString();

   textBox = null;

Navigate a DataTable
int rowPosition = 0;
void prevCommand_Click()
  if (this.SqlXmlDataGrid != null && this.SqlXmlDataGrid.Visible)
   if (rowPosition > 0)


void nextCommand_Click()
  if (this.SqlXmlDataGrid != null && this.SqlXmlDataGrid.Visible)
   if (rowPosition + 1 < this.SqlXmlDataGrid.CurrentDataRow.Table.Rows.Count)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Managing Access Add-ins with a SurfaceView

Extending Microsoft Access solutions with managed code has traditionally been a challenge. Visual Studio Shared Add-ins have been available for some time; however, managing the details of releasing Access.exe after closing an Access application has been a challenge. This article presents a SurfaceView object model that manages the release of Access form and report controls. After discussing the SurfaceView, the article suggests effective ways to extend Access applications using SurfaceView, Ribbon controls, custom task panes, a custom Access form and Windows Workflow 4.0. The code snippets used within the article are contained within the source code located at


Using the SurfaceView object model to manage an Access .NET add-in enables extensibility opportunities beyond traditional VBA. This article presents several how to topics to get you started extending Access with managed code.
  • Setup the sample including troubleshooting Add-in setup
  • Use the sample
  • Use a SurfaceView to manage forms and reports
  • Use a ribbon button
  • Create custom task panes
  • Create a custom Access popup form
  • Use Windows Workflow 4.0 to automate Access
Please note that the SurfaceView model is a sample of a potential object model to manage Access objects. As with any sample, the concepts and source code have not been thoroughly designed or tested and are not intended for production use.
The remainder of this blog is in pdf format …

PDF Article

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Source code update

This week we will post new code to The following screenshot shows the Access HTML editor improvements.


HTML Editor enhancements:

  • Open content stored in an Access table
  • Save content
  • Common formatting including bold, italic, underline, fonts and colors
  • Undo, cut, copy and paste
  • Numbered list, bulleted list, outdent and indent
  • DataLinks
  • Find text
  • Insert content via a HyperBar control (not fully implemented)

Access Addin stability is another significant improvement. An abstract SurfaceController class and corresponding FormController and ReportController class was added to provide a clean and stable model to manage Access form and report controls. Access controls can be referenced as ThisDatabase.AllForms["Dashboard"].Controls(“Budget”). The SurfaceController handles the details including ensuring that Access is always released when closed.

Silverlight WebWidgets can be included in a database as an attachment and deployed to the client.

The source code also shows more Windows Workflow 4.0 to add .NET features into Access. The idea is to create common CodeActivities that others can drop into a Workflow to automate Access.

I will upload the new source code and provide more documentation later this week …

Friday, February 18, 2011

Access HTML Editor with Silverlight and Workflow

One of the goals of my blog is to experiment with integrating .NET into Office. Lately, the emphasis has been to show Silverlight in Access. Another area of interest is evaluating how Windows Workflow 4.0 could be used in Access to create workflow solutions as well as enable a declarative development environment. This blog, and accompanying CodePlex code download, refines the Silverlight and web browser control concept and introduces a simple Windows Workflow 4.0 containing two custom activities.
The Silverlight and web browser control concept is refined by showing how to create a simple Access HTML editor containing an embedded Silverlight Treeview control. An HTML Editor can be created primarily by using a contentEditable attribute and calling an HtmlDocument execCommand()  method or using mshtml.IHTMLTxtRange methods to style a span element. An embedded Silverlight Treeview control can be displayed by creating an HtmlDocumentEvent.onclick delegate and setting the Dashboard.TreeviewPage.Display style to none or block. Here is an overview of how this works. You can go to for a complete sample.

HTML Editor with Embedded Silverlight

HTML formatting

Style a span element
mshtml.IHTMLTxtRange rng =
rng.pasteHTML("<span style='color:" + Dashboard.ColorCombo.Text + ";'>" + text + "</span>");

//Reselect text
rng.moveStart("character", -text.Length);;


Create event delegates after HTML document is complete

void MyDocumentTasks_onDocumentComplete(object sender, EventArgs e)
Dashboard.HtmlDocumentEvent.onclick += new mshtml.HTMLDocumentEvents2_onclickEventHandler(HtmlDocumentEvent_onclick);

//Initially hide the Treeview
      Dashboard.TreeviewPage.Display = "none";

Toggle TreeviewPage display

bool HtmlDocumentEvent_onclick(mshtml.IHTMLEventObj pEvtObj)
       if ("popup" ==
if(Dashboard.TreeviewPage.Display == "none")
Dashboard.TreeviewPage.Display = "block";
Dashboard.TreeviewPage.Display = "none";
return true;

Invoke Windows Workflow 4.0 in Access
Adding Windows Workflow 4.0 (WF4) enables workflow and declarative development into Access. To experiment with WF4 in Access, a simple project budget workflow was created containing an If activity and two custom activates; ValidValueActivity and EmailActivity. An If activity executes ValidValueActivity if the budget threshold is less than 1000; otherwise, EmailActivity is executed. To show how a custom activity could be designed for Access, each activity sets the Cost Textbox BorderColor. In addition, the ValidValueActivity adds an item to the Silverlight TreeviewPage control.
An assembly reference must be added to a workflow xaml file; otherwise, a cannot create unknown type XamlObjectWriterException is thrown. You will need to append assembly=MyDataAddin to the xmlns:local Activity attribute.

                Default  Activity  Element
<Activity xmlns:local="clr-namespace:MyDataAddin" …

Change to
<Activity xmlns:local="clr-namespace:MyDataAddin;assembly=MyDataAddin" …

Example Workflow


The onAfterUpdate event delegate Invokes the example XAML workflow.
void Dashboard_onAfterUpdate(object sender, EventArgs e)
int value;
      Int32.TryParse(Dashboard.TreeviewCheckbox.Value.ToString(), out value);
      String fullFilePath =

      Activity wf = (Activity)ActivityXamlServices.Load(fullFilePath);

      IDictionary<String, Object> output = WorkflowInvoker.Invoke(
            wf, new Dictionary<String, Object>
                        {"ArgBudget", Convert.ToInt32(Dashboard.Cost.Value)},

MessageBox.Show(output["ResultString"].ToString(), "Windows Workflow");

Code Activities

public sealed class EmailActivity : CodeActivity, ISimpleActivity
public OutArgument<Int32> ResultCode { get; set; }
      public OutArgument<String> ResultString { get; set; }

      protected override void Execute(CodeActivityContext context)
              //This example returns -1 for failure
              //A production application would send email to the manager
              ResultCode.Set(context, -1);
              ResultString.Set(context, "Email sent to your manager");

              Dashboard.Cost.BorderColor = VB.Information.RGB(255, 0, 0);

public sealed class ValidValueActivity : CodeActivity, ISimpleActivity
public OutArgument<Int32> ResultCode { get; set; }
       public OutArgument<String> ResultString { get; set; }

       protected override void Execute(CodeActivityContext context)
              //This example returns 1 for success
              ResultCode.Set(context, 1);
              ResultString.Set(context, "Valid value");

              Dashboard.Cost.BorderColor = VB.Information.RGB(0, 0, 255);


Example Workflow