CMSOI

Cross-version Microsoft Word plugin

was built by Redwerk for Green Valley’s award-winning CMS product

Green Valley BVGreen Valley BVDelft, Netherlands

Green Valley BV is one of the top e-government solutions providers in the Netherlands and Belgium. Their specialized, government standard-compliant CMS is used by hundreds of cities and counties, non-profit organizations and companies, as well as in the foreign missions of the kingdom of the Netherlands.

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Dedicated Team

We made sure we understood exactly what the problem was and put right professionals to the team who we were knew could get this job done.

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E-Government

We have over 10 years of experience in e-government solutions and standards.

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Challenge

Green Valley developed a plugin called DSOI (Discovery Server Office Integration) for their CMS product that is used by a wide variety of government authorities, as well as corporate customers.

The plugin allows easy access from Microsoft Word to the document tree and dramatically improves user experience. It allows accessing, modifying, and uploading new documents to the CMS directly from Word and to also set metadata. It opens Word files stored in the CMS. All of these actions are performed via the plugin’s menu added at installation.

DSOI was written in C++ and it communicates with Office using COM and OLE technologies, so it could only be used with certain versions of MS Office libraries. Therefore, Green Valley was maintaining several plugin builds for each version of MS Word. And once users upgraded their Office version, the plugin became non-functional.

The challenge was to create a next generation plugin that would meet the following requirements:

  • Easy to install
  • Require no admin rights to install
  • Be as independent from a MS Office version as possible
  • Support multiple languages and be localized at least in English and Dutch

Solution

The Redwerk team started off by researching how to implement a plugin that would work with multiple versions of MS Office. We found a match with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), which is widely used for writing macros for MS Word and other Office products. It’s a translated language that doesn’t need to be compiled into binary code in order to be executed. The only challenge was dealing with slight incompatibilities in the API created by different Office versions, which our team quickly overcame.

We developed a prototype using a very basic use case of saving a document into the CMS along with some metadata. It had to ask for credentials, login into the CMS, fetch and display the document tree where a user would be able to pick a location to save the document. This prototype had to work on as many Office versions as possible. To communicate with the CMS, it used a proprietary protocol based on HTTP — also a protocol our team helped develop.

Next, we went on to implement additional scenarios and a UI. We added localization and tested, tested and tested again to make sure it works flawlessly in all the MS Office versions we wanted to support. To achieve this, we only used the most generic APIs.

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4

developers worked on the project

2

QA engineers

700+

man-hours

100%

deadlines met

Results

The product bears the name of CMSOI to reflect the transition from Discovery Server to Green Valley CMS. Since VBS was used, there’s no need for separate versions of the plugin anymore. The very same code can be used across all versions and that solved a major problem for our client’s customers. The new plugin supports the following Office suites:

  • Microsoft Office 97
  • Microsoft Office 2000
  • Microsoft Office XP
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2007
  • Microsoft Office 2010

The technology proposed and implemented by Redwerk makes it easy to port the plugin to OpenOffice should there ever be a need to do so. Its modular architecture allows adding support for other storages, types of authentication and XML handling without changing the rest of the code.

DSOI plugin
Redwerk is a highly service oriented business partner, willing to assist on all levels of the partnership. Communication is quick and to the point. Their management themselves have in depth knowledge of technology, which helps to speed things up.

Mike van Dijk, Director of Products at Green Valley

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Discovery Server Office Integration plugin
COM and OLE technologies
DSOI plugin
COM technology
OLE technology
C++ software development
Macros for MS Word development

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