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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
One of our products is a standalone Windows offering that manipulates Word documents, written in .NET. We're thinking about building an addin/plugin for Word 2010/2013.
Does anyone have any direct experience with Word addins? Is there a solid market there - amongst business users and consumers? It's not a market we know much about, but we think we can produce a first version in about a month off the back of our existing code base.
Our feeling is that it could be lucrative as it would allow us to target business users who haven't been interested in our standalone product.
As a professional user of Word I've only once paid for a add on, one that allows me to save in 2 places at once.
I think it really does depend on just what it does, regarding if there's a market for it?
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Yes there is, but as AC alludes, it's very market specific.
The largest user of Word add-ins I've seen were law firms (solicitors as well as patent-attorneys). These add-ins automated the preparation & processing of legal documents drawing case/client information from a RDBS.
Actually; the other place was a government dept (child protection) who used Word Add-ins for similar kind of functionality as the law firms.
Basically you're looking for niches that are very document-centric for whom there's a gap in Word's existing functionality (creating detailed indexes?) or you can enrich documents with external data.
From a development environment perspective, you may want to take a look at a a VS plug-in called Add-In Express. It allows you to develop add-ins across MS Office with a single code base - so you may have functionality which can be utilised by several applications (extract data from a RDMS/web service for example) after which you will need code specific to each application's object model.
The other benefit is that you can develop add-in for multiple MSO versions from a single code base. I'm not affiliated with Add-In Express in any way but have used it for both corporate and ISV deployments.
All the best -
Our existing product is very much document centric. The main issue we've had is that business users haven't wanted to move outside Word for the functionality, even though that functionality is not in Word in any meaningful way.
Thanks for the recommendation Marcus. The add in product you mentioned looks ideal - very affordable too.
Well then the next question may be *why* your users haven't wanted to move outside Word.
Does Word add some synergy which wouldn't exist otherwise? For example, can you enrich the process with interoperability with other MSO applications (e.g. emailing via Outlook, number crunching via Excel). Whatever it is, it may be your USP and product focus point.
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