Microsoft has announced the availability of a 'Smart Tag Software Development Kit' For Office XP. Smart tags "enable real-time, dynamic recognition of content and offer relevant options to people as they work to allow them to quickly access and analyze information. For example, they support the ability to dynamically link user input (e.g., a supplier invoice number, with relevant user actions such as 'check invoice status' or 'visit supplier Web site') using the full power of COM and development tools like Visual C++ and Visual Basic. In addition to extensible smart tags, Office XP offers native support of XML as a file format in Excel and Access, which enables the integration of Office XP solutions with other XML-enabled enterprise applications and business processes. Documentation illustrates building smart tags without writing code by generating Microsoft Office Smart Tag List XML files and including smart tags directly into Web pages."
From the product description:
Microsoft Office XP Smart Tag SDK
For many knowledge workers, accomplishing tasks often requires working with varying types of data in different applications, including e-mail editors, spreadsheets, and Web browsers. However, these applications rarely work seamlessly together to make accomplishing these tasks truly efficient. Smart tags is a new feature, introduced with Office XP, that intelligently links content in Office-based documents with related content hosted on servers, on Web sites, and in files.
Smart tags are similar to hyperlinks, but they extend the hyperlink by providing for the automatic recognition of smart tags. The smart tag infrastructure also provides for richer user actions by allowing for the registration of COM-based action handlers.
With these two new architectural improvements -- automatic recognition of data types and actions that are registered to work with them -- smart tags in Office XP allow for a new level of integration. An e-mail message, for example, could contain smart tags with actions that link to related data on a Web site, generate a spreadsheet, or automate a custom application.
Of course, the datasets and tasks that knowledge workers perform vary from person to person, so the need for different smart tag types and actions similarly varies. For this reason, the smart tag infrastructure built into Office XP is designed to allow for a high level of customization.
The Microsoft Office XP Smart Tag SDK contains a full set of documentation and code samples to help you create great smart tag actions and recognizers. Specifically, it includes a full API reference for the ISmartTagAction and ISmartTagRecognizer interfaces. Also, there is a discussion on building smart tags without writing code by generating Microsoft Office Smart Tag List XML files and including smart tags directly into Web pages. As well, there are project ideas and a deployment walkthrough.
The smart tag SDK includes three code samples with step-by-step walkthroughs. The code samples cover building a simple smart tag DLL in Microsoft Visual Basic and Microsoft Visual C++, as well as creating a data-driven recognizer and action pair.
From the announcement of 2001-02-21:
"Microsoft Corporation today announced the immediate availability of the Smart Tag Software Development Kit (Smart Tag SDK), a free toolkit designed to provide developers with tools and information to build flexible and customized smart tags in Office XP. Smart tags enable real-time, dynamic recognition of content and offer relevant options to people as they work to allow them to quickly access and analyze information. Using the Smart Tag SDK, developers can now design company- or industry-specific smart tags that will tightly integrate Office XP with information from the Web, enterprise data sources and other desktop applications to expand the Office XP user experience. Using Office XP and the Smart Tag SDK, developers can quickly create solutions that lower development and deployment costs, reduce training and improve business agility... The availability of the Smart Tag API in Office XP builds upon the long history of Office as a development platform. Today, more than 2.6 million developers create solutions that take advantage of the Office platform. By exposing Office XP as more than 600 prebuilt COM-based components, and supporting common programming languages like the award-winning Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and leading technologies like XML, Office XP enables developers to quickly build business solutions that take advantage of the familiar user interface of Office. Sophisticated solutions can be built for Office XP using leading-edge technology that is customizable and solves significant business problems. In addition to extensible smart tags, examples of this technology include the following: XML support. Office XP offers native support of XML as a file format in Excel and Access, which enables the integration of Office XP solutions with other XML-enabled enterprise applications and business processes. XML also makes it much easier for people to extract data from Office XP documents into other XML-enabled applications using Internet standards. Office Web Components. Office Web Components enable the use of interactive and refreshable Excel spreadsheets, charts and pivot tables in Web applications. New capabilities in Office XP's Web Components reduce the need for custom coding, allowing developers to deliver new solutions to their customers more rapidly. For example, Office Web Components can be used in an organization's intranet to allow the finance staff to manipulate and analyze large quantities of sales or financial data in a Web page."