Overview of Yeoman Generator for Office Add-ins

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Overview of Yeoman Generator for Office Add-ins


Office add-ins are helpful to extend Office applications, deal with Office document contents. Visual Studio has been the popular developer IDE to build the Office add-ins. On the other hand, web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript can be used to develop Office add-ins platform independently, compared to Visual Studio which supports developers to write their applications on the Windows platform.

In this article, we will explore the Yeoman Generator for Office Add-ins and set up a developer machine for add-ins development.

Yeoman Generator for building Office Add-ins

Yeoman is an open-source scaffolding tool to generate projects based on available templates. It also supports creating projects for Office. Yeoman runs through a wizard of questions to scaffold the project. It can be thought of as a replacement for File > New Project experience in Visual Studio. It can be used to create Office add-ins for:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • Excel Custom Functions
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • OneNote
  • Project

Development with Yeoman generator and Visual Studio

We have multiple options to start building our Office Add-ins. Yeoman generator offers more options compared to Visual Studio for development.

Yeoman generator

  • Supports development with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. We can develop add-ins using famous JavaScript based frameworks and libraries including Angular, React
  • Supports TypeScript for writing our code
  • Support for creating add-ins for Word, Excel, Excel Custom Functions, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Project

Visual Studio

  • Supports development only with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Only supports JavaScript based development option
  • Support for creating add-ins for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook

Setup Developer Environment

Follow the below set of commands to get your developer environment ready.

Install Node JS

Install latest LTS version from https://nodejs.org

If you already have NodeJS installed, check the version

node -v

Install Code Editor

Install any of the below code editors

  • Visual Studio Code (https://code.visualstudio.com)
  • Atom (https://atom.io)
  • Webstorm (https://www.jetbrains.com/webstorm)

Install Yeoman and bower

Run the below command (to install globally)

npm install -g yo bower

Install Yeoman Generator for Office Add-ins

Run the below command

npm install -g generator-office

NPM packages Update

Yeoman, Bower, Yeoman Office add-ins Generator gets installed as NPM packages. Use the below commands to check and update them.

To update NPM, use below command:

npm i -g npm

To check outdated packages, use below command:

npm outdated --global

This command will report packages that need updates. Use the below command to update the reported packages.

npm update -g <package-name>


Office add-ins offer to extend Office applications. Yeoman Generator for Office Add-ins is useful to develop Office add-ins platform independently as compared to Visual Studio which is Windows platform dependent.


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