Programming Research Services

This section examines how to build research services for Word and other Office applications. Word has a task pane called the Research task pane that enables you to enter a search term and search various sources for that search term. Figure 6-6 shows the Research task pane.

Figure 6-6. The Research task pane.

Office enables developers to write a special Web service called a research service that implements two Web methods defined by Office: Registration and Query. Both Web methods take a string and return a string. A research service can be registered with Office and used in Office's Research task pane. For example, you might write a research service that searches for the search term in a corporate database.

Although the signatures of the two Web methods you must declare are simple, the actual implementation of these methods is somewhat complex because Word has four separate XML schemas that must be used for the request passed to Registration, the response returned by Registration, the request passed to Query, and the response returned by Query.

The simplest way to build research services is by using the Research Service Development Extras Toolkit for Office that is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=8b0a4427-9cfd-493e-82a7-16f8d88ebdc7. This toolkit provides helper classes to assist in parsing the requests and forming responses. Note that this example uses Visual Studio 2003 because the Research Service Development Toolkit was not available for Visual Studio 2005 at the time of this writing.

Getting Started with Research Services

After you have downloaded and installed the Research Service Development Extras Toolkit, launch Visual Studio 2003 and choose New Project from the File menu. Select Visual C# Projects in the Project Types window and click the Research Service Wrapper in the Templates window, as shown in Figure 6-7.

Figure 6-7. Selecting the Research Service Wrapper project.

When you click OK, a wizard appears that in Step 1 prompts you for the information needed to create your research service, as shown in Figure 6-8. The first step of the wizard prompts you for provider information and an ID for the provider. You can think of a provider as being like a Web site that potentially provides multiple services. For example, the ACME corporation might provide a number of different research services. You can click the New Guid button to automatically generate a unique ID for the provider.

Figure 6-8. Step 1 of the ASP.NET Research Services Wizard.

Figure 6-9 shows Step 2 of the wizard. Here you specify the name of the service, a description of the service, and you assign the service a category from a list of categories that are predefined by Office. You also must have a unique ID for your service.

Figure 6-9. Step 2 of the ASP.NET Research Services Wizard.

Step 3 of the wizard prompts you as to whether you require licensing for your research service. We respond No to this step for this example. Step 4 lets you specify an OleDB data provider, a SqlDB data provider, or no data provider. We choose no data provider. Finally, when you click the Finish button in Step 5, the research service project is created for you.

A Simple Research Service

The wizard has created a project for our Author Information research service. Within the project is a file called ResearchService.asmx.cs. Edit this file to produce the result shown in Listing 6-1. If the user searches for the strings "Eric Carter" or "Eric Lippert," the service will send back information listing all the authors of this book.

Listing 6-1. The ResearchService.asmx.cs File

using System;
using Microsoft.Samples.Office.ResearchService;
using Microsoft.Samples.Office.ResearchService.Registration;
using Microsoft.Samples.Office.ResearchService.Query;

namespace ResearchService
 public class ResearchService : ResearchWebService
 public override RegistrationResponse Registration(
 RegistrationRequest request)
 return new RegistrationResponse();

 public override QueryResponse Query(QueryRequest request)
 QueryResponse response = new QueryResponse();
 if (request.QueryText == "Eric Carter" ||
 request.QueryText == "Eric Lippert")
 DocumentResponseWriter responseWriter;

 responseWriter = new DocumentResponseWriter();
 responseWriter.WriteItem("Eric Carter", "One of the authors of this
book, a Lead Developer at Microsoft Corporation.");
 responseWriter.WriteItem("Eric Lippert", "One of the authors of this
book, a Developer at Microsoft Corporation.");

 return response;


Registering the Research Service with Word

After building the project, the next step is to register it with Word. First, launch Word. Then, bring up Word's Research task pane by choosing Task Pane from the View menu. Drop down the available task panes from the pop-up menu at the top of the task pane and choose Research. At the very bottom of the Research task pane is some text that says Research options. Click that text to get the dialog shown in Figure 6-13. Then click the Add Services button. The dialog shown in Figure 6-10 appears. In this dialog, type the address to the Web service .asmx file. Then click the Add button.

Figure 6-13. Research Options dialog.

Figure 6-10. Word's Add Services dialog.

When you click the Add button, Word displays a dialog announcing the provider of the research service, as shown in Figure 6-11.

Figure 6-11. Word's Provider dialog.

Clicking Continue brings up a dialog showing details about the research service shown in Figure 6-12. Click Install to install the research service.

Figure 6-12. Research Service confirmation dialog.

Clicking Install returns to the Research Options dialog shown in Figure 6-13, which now has our Author Information research site installed in the Research Sites category. Click OK to continue.

Using the Research Service

Now, you can type the text Eric Carter in the Research task pane and drop down the list of sites to search to select All Research Sites. Click the green arrow button to search. The research service is contacted, and the response displays in the task pane, as shown in Figure 6-14. An alternative way to search for text is to type it in the document, select it, and then click it while holding down the Alt key.

Figure 6-14. The Research task pane shows results from the new Author Information research service.


More Research Service Resources

This has been a brief introduction to how to get started creating research service in C# using Visual Studio. You can do many more things with research services, including returning richer results with hyperlinks and images. For more information about creating research services, search http://msdn.microsoft.com for the phrase "research services."

Part One. An Introduction to VSTO

An Introduction to Office Programming

Introduction to Office Solutions

Part Two. Office Programming in .NET

Programming Excel

Working with Excel Events

Working with Excel Objects

Programming Word

Working with Word Events

Working with Word Objects

Programming Outlook

Working with Outlook Events

Working with Outlook Objects

Introduction to InfoPath

Part Three. Office Programming in VSTO

The VSTO Programming Model

Using Windows Forms in VSTO

Working with Actions Pane

Working with Smart Tags in VSTO

VSTO Data Programming

Server Data Scenarios

.NET Code Security


Part Four. Advanced Office Programming

Working with XML in Excel

Working with XML in Word

Developing COM Add-Ins for Word and Excel

Creating Outlook Add-Ins with VSTO

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Visual Studio Tools for Office(c) Using C# with Excel, Word, Outlook, and InfoPath
Visual Studio Tools for Office(c) Using C# with Excel, Word, Outlook, and InfoPath
ISBN: 321334884
Year: N/A
Pages: 214
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