Microsoft small business knowledge base

Article ID: 178749 - Last Review: June 23, 2005 - Revision: 4.3

This article was previously published under Q178749

On This Page


This article illustrates, in detail, how to automate component integration with COM-compliant applications such as the Microsoft Office applications.


The following section illustrates how you can create an MFC project. The example automates Microsoft Excel. You can use the first 8 steps for any project, and modify steps 9 through 15 when you work with another application.

Create an automation project

  1. With Microsoft Developer Studio, start a new "MFC AppWizard (exe)" project named "AutoProject."
  2. In step 1 of the MFC AppWizard, choose "Dialog Based" for the application type and then click Finish.

    The New Project Information dialog box appears and indicates that the Classes to be created include:
          Application: CAutoProjectApp in AutoProject.h and AutoProject.cpp
          Dialog: CAutoProjectDlg in AutoProject.h and AutoProjectDlg.cpp
    Click OK to create the project.
  3. The Dialog box "IDD_AUTOPROJECT_DIALOG" opens in the Visual Studio design/edit area. Modify it according to the instructions in the next two steps.
  4. Remove the Label control (IDC_STATIC) and the Cancel button (IDCANCEL).
  5. Change the name of the OK button to "IDRUN" and the caption to "Run." Close the AutoProject.rc dialog box design form.
  6. Click ClassWizard on the View menu (or press CTRL+W).
  7. Select the Message Maps tab. Select IDRUN in the Object Ids list box and select "BN_CLICKED" in the Messages list box. Click Add Function and accept the function name "OnRun". Click OK to close the ClassWizard.

    NOTE: This step adds a declaration for the function member "OnRun();" to the header file named AutoProjectDLG.h. This step also adds an empty skeleton message handler function named CAutoProjectDlg::OnRun() to the file named AutoProjectDLG.cpp.
  8. Click ClassWizard on the View menu (or press CTRL+W).
  9. Select the Automation tab. Click Add Class and choose "From a type library." Navigate to select the object library for the application you wish to automate (for this example, if you are automating Excel 97, choose the Microsoft Excel 8.0 Object Library; the default location is C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel8.olb).

    If you are automating Microsoft Excel 2000, choose Microsoft Excel 9.0 Object Library for which the default location is the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel9.olb.

    If you are automating Microsoft Excel 2002 and Microsoft Office Excel 2003, the object library is embedded in the file Excel.exe. The default location for Excel.exe in Office 2002 is C:\program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\Excel.exe. The default location for Excel.exe in Office 2003 is C:\program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Excel.exe. Once you have selected the appropriate object library, click Open. Select all classes in the Confirm Classes list, and then click OK.

    NOTE: The list box in the Confirm Classes dialog box contains all of the IDispatch interfaces (which are virtually identical to classes) in the Microsoft Excel type library. In the lower half of the dialog box you will see that an Implementation file named Excel8.cpp contains generated class wrappers derived from ColeDispatchDriver(), and the appropriate declaration header file is named Excel8.h. (For Excel 2002 and Excel 2003, the files are named Excel.cpp and Excel.h.)
  10. Click OK to close the MFC ClassWizard dialog box.
  11. Add the following code to the CAutoProjectApp::InitInstance() function, which loads and enables the COM services library:
          BOOL CAutoProjectApp::InitInstance()
             if(!AfxOleInit())  // Your addition starts here
                AfxMessageBox("Could not initialize COM dll");
                return FALSE;
             }                 // End of your addition
  12. Add the following line to the #include statements at the top of the AutoProject.cpp program file:
          #include <afxdisp.h>
  13. Add the include statement for excel8.h after the include statement for stdafx.h at the top of the AutoProjectDlg.cpp program file:
          #include "stdafx.h"
          #include "excel8.h" // excel.h in the case of Excel 2002 and Excel 2003.
  14. Add automation code to the CAutoProjectDlg::OnRun() so that it appears as shown below:
          void CAutoProjectDlg::OnRun()
              _Application app;  // app is the Excel _Application object
              // Start Excel and get Application object...
                AfxMessageBox("Couldn't start Excel.");
                //Make Excel Visible and display a message
              AfxMessageBox ("Excel is Running!");
  15. Build and run the project. RESULTS: When you click the Run button in the dialog box, Microsoft Excel will be launched. Activate the Auto_Excel dialog box and dismiss the message box. Microsoft Excel will quit when the CAutoProjectDlg::OnRun() function ends because the application variable will have gone out of scope.

Additional Notes

Once you have added the classes from a type library to your project (as you did in step 9 above), you will notice that many classes have been added to the project. In ClassView, you can double-click a class to see the member functions of that class and then double-click the member function to view the definition of that function in the Excel8.cpp implementation file.

You need to go to the definition of a member function if you wish to verify a return type or if you need to change a function's implementation. Any time you change a function definition, remember to change the declaration in the Excel8.h file. When doing so, be sure that you change the correct function declaration; sometimes, the same name is given to member functions of multiple classes--GetApplication() is one such example.

Although the steps above illustrate how to automate Microsoft Excel, you can apply the same ideas to automating other applications. The list below contains the file names for the type libraries of the Microsoft Office applications:
   Application                           Type Library

   Microsoft Access 97                   Msacc8.olb
   Microsoft Jet Database 3.5            DAO350.dll
   Microsoft Binder 97                   Msbdr8.olb
   Microsoft Excel 97                    Excel8.olb
   Microsoft Graph 97                    Graph8.olb
   Microsoft Office 97                   Mso97.dll
   Microsoft Outlook 97                  Msoutl97.olb
   Microsoft PowerPoint 97               Msppt8.olb

   Microsoft Word 97                     Msword8.olb
   Microsoft Access 2000                 Msacc9.olb
   Microsoft Jet Database 3.51           DAO360.dll
   Microsoft Binder 2000                 Msbdr9.olb
   Microsoft Excel 2000                  Excel9.olb
   Microsoft Graph 2000                  Graph9.olb
   Microsoft Office 2000                 Mso9.dll
   Microsoft Outlook 2000                Msoutl9.olb
   Microsoft PowerPoint 2000             Msppt9.olb
   Microsoft Word 2000                   Msword9.olb 

   Microsoft Access 2002                 Msacc.olb
   Microsoft Excel 2002                  Excel.exe
   Microsoft Graph 2002                  Graph.exe 
   Microsoft Office 2002                 MSO.dll
   Microsoft Outlook 2002                MSOutl.olb
   Microsoft PowerPoint 2002             MSPpt.olb
   Microsoft Word 2002                   MSWord.olb

   Microsoft Office Access 2003          Msacc.olb
   Microsoft Office Excel 2003           Excel.exe
   Microsoft Graph 2003                  Graph.exe 
   Microsoft Office 2003                 MSO.dll
   Microsoft Office Outlook 2003         MSOutl.olb
   Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003      MSPpt.olb
   Microsoft Office Word 2003            MSWord.olb
NOTE: The default location for these type libraries is C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office (for Office 2002 the path is C:\...\Office10 and for Office 2003 the path is C:\...\Office11), except for Dao350.dll or Dao360.dll, and Microsoft Office 10(MSO.dll). The default location for Dao350.dll/Dao360.dll is C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Dao. The default location for MSO.dll is C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Office10 for Office 2002 and C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Office11 for Office 2003.


This article presents a specific approach to building a dialog-box project. If you would like to see more general documentation about the process of building a VC++ project in the Microsoft Developer Studio environment, there is an excellent tutorial you can access by using Visual Studio InfoView. To access the tutorial, click Search on the Help menu. Click the index tab and type the following:
working with projects
Click List Topics. Select the topic "Home Page: Working With Projects" and click Display. For more information about the automation of Office applications, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
222101  ( ) How to find and use Office object model documentation

  • Microsoft Foundation Class Library 4.2, when used with:
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0 Standard Edition
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 Service Pack 5
  • Microsoft Office XP Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Office 2000 Developer Edition
kbautomation kbhowto kbinterop KB178749
Additional support options
Ask The Microsoft Small Business Support Community
Contact Microsoft Small Business Support
Find Microsoft Small Business Support Certified Partner
Find a Microsoft Store For In-Person Small Business Support