Start Developing in OfficeJS Today with Script Lab


Recently, I have been working with a tool from Microsoft Garage which allows you to quickly develop OfficeJS projects in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It is called Script Lab. You can find more information about it here:

Script Lab

It is also in GitHub project. You can read about it here:

https://github.com/OfficeDev/script-lab

To install Script Lab, open Word, Excel or PowerPoint and on the Insert tab, click Store.

insert

Type “script lab in” the search box and hit enter. Then select Script Lab from the list and click Add.

store

Once added, you will see a new Script Lab tab. From there, you click the Code button to open the task pane.

scriptlab

This tool comes with a lot of options:

  • If you click the hamburger menu you will see an option to Sign Into GitHub. This will allow you to create Gist’s and access and save code snippets to GitHub.
  • You can import Samples from GitHub (with a URL) and access Snippets.
  • There are options to change the color in the editor at the bottom from Dark to Light.
  • And once in your solution, you can change the template (the html page), the CSS Style and any references libraries.

NOTE:  You are dealing with a subset of the whole solution here. You cannot create Ribbon buttons or dialogs. You can only develop task pane add-ins. You can work with Script Labs in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but not Outlook (yet).

Script Lab allows you to test things in a quick fashion. Here is what the code pane looks like:

code.PNG

NOTE: Script Lab defaults to TypeScript. It emits code in JavaScript on Export. There is no option to switch to only JavaScript. If you want to program in JavaScript that does not matter because JavaScript will work just fine as well. But in a shout out to Michael Zlatkovsky – who says Office of TypeScript are a match made in heaven – I look at this as an opportunity to get better at TypeScript.

One of the more difficult part of working in OfficeJS is to be able to quickly test how some feature of function or a block of code will work. In the VSTO and VBA days, I would pop open the Visual Basic Editor in Word, Excel or PowerPoint (ALT+F11), then open the Immediate Window (CTRL+G) and then start typing away to test specific object model items. There was nothing similar to this with OfficeJS, until now.

Script Lab is just that, a laboratory for you to test your ideas, your snippets, your work in progress. It is a way to test something before you put it into your full blown solution. You can then save code snippets as Gist (on GitHub) and export the solution.

And once you have written your code and are ready to test it, you very easily run it in the Taskpane or (my favorite) you can run side-by-side. From the Ribbon click the Run button and then you can still edit your code/html and then refresh and reload it in the side-by-side Run window. This makes developing a solution or just testing ideas VERY easy:

side-by-side.PNG

Once you are running you (kind of) have debugging tools, can see the DOM and see console messages. And my favorite part, is that once you have hacked out a basic add-in concept with buttons and text in the HTML and code in the script file, you can export your solution (Export for publishing). This will create a ZIP which will contain the XML manifest and HTML (with script inline), which is very similar to the minimalist add-in I outlined in a previous blog post:

OfficeJS: Create a (VERY) Basic Add-in for Excel

NOTE: If you do write async/await code the exported result will be very ugly and hard to follow. This is why you might want to export to GitHub if you use async/awat code (TypeScript) so you can keep the original source and then transpile to ES5 later.

However, I really like VS Code and the power of NPM and Browser-Sync, so I worked on converting a Script Lab project into an NPM project. This took quite a lot of work and that will be a topic for a future blog post, but the gist of it is to create a new Office Yeoman (yo office) project for the same application and then gut and Frankenstein it with the Script Lab code.

Bottom line, I love Script LabwlEmoticon-openmouthedsmile.png If you are working on an OfficeJS project and/or planning on creating an OfficeJS project and/or want to learn how to develop in OfficeJS, this is definitely THE tool to have.

 

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