VSTO APPLICATION : VBOfficeRibbonAccessibility Project Overview


This example illustrates how to pinvoke the Microsoft Active Accessibilty
(MSAA) API to automate Office Ribbon controls. The code calls the following


to display the whole structure of the Office ribbon, including tabs, groups,
and controls. It also shows how to nagivate to a tab and execute button
function programmatically.


* Visual Studio 2010 and Office 2010
* Visual Studio 2008 and Office 2007


1. Compile the VSTO project using Visual Studio 2008 or 2010.

2. Open your Office Word 2007 or 2010. You should see a group named
"VBOfficeRibbonAccessibility" in the Add-Ins ribbon tab. In the group, there
is a button "Show Ribbon Information".

3. Click the "Show Ribbon Information" button. You will see a windows form
with the title "Ribbon Information".

4. In the "Tabs" list box, you can see all visible tabs. Clicking any of them
make the office navigate to that tab.

6. By click the button "List child groups", the form will list all groups in
the currently selected tab in the "Groups" list box.

7. Select a group and click the button "List child controls". The form will
list all controls in the currently selected group in the "Controls" list box.

8. Select a control, and click the button "Execute selected control". the form
will invoke the selected control's function.


A. Creating the project

Step1. Create a VSTO Word 2010 AddIn using Visual Studio 2010. Right click the
project, and click Add->New Item. In the popup dialog, choose Office tab,  
select the Ribbon (Visual Designer) at the right panel and click OK. In the
Ribbon designer, drag a button to the Add-ins Tab. Double click the button to
generate a ribbon control click event handler.

Step2. Right click the project, and click Add->New Item. In the popup dialog,
choose the Windows Form tab, and add a Form named RibbonInfoForm. In the
Form designer, drag labels, listboxs, and buttons as the sample shows.

Step3. In the event handler created in step 1, we add code to show the
RibbonInfoForm form.

   Dim form As New RibbonInfoForm()


B. Using the Microsoft Active Accessibility API

Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) is an API for user interface
accessibility. The Accessibility interface offers a hierarchy of objects
subordinate to the main window of the Office 2007/2010 applications. You can
use the API to automate Office ribbon controls.

NativeMethods.cs declares the P/Invoke signatures for MSAA APIs:

MSAAHelper.cs provides helper functions that invoke the native MSAA APIs:

In RibbonInfoForm.cs, the form lists all accessible ribbon tab, group and
control objects, and execute their default actions. The sample basically does
the following logic:

 1. Find the top window of the Office application, and get its IAccessible
 2. Get the IAccessibile interface for the ribbon object.
 3. Recurse through the IAccessibility tree and find the tabs, groups and
    controls. We use the accessible name and role to identify the tabs,
    groups and controls. You can use the Inspect tool in the Windows SDK to
    inspet the accessible name and role of the Office ribbon.
 4. Execute the default action (in case of ribbon tabs the default action is
    switch, for buttons it’s click and for the dropdowns it’s drop).


How to switch ribbon tab programmatically... looks simple?

Microsoft Active Accessibility

Accessing the Ribbon with VBA

UI Automation using Microsoft Active Accessibility(MSAA)