Over the next couple of months I'm planning to get out to each of the User Groups in Australia and New Zealand to discuss the Information Bridge Framework (IBF). I'm going to use this post to link to some resources and to provide an overview of what IBF is.
If you have any favourite IBF resources, can you please append them to this entry as a comment.
What is IBF
Take a look at the following image IBF at work in Outlook. The image shows Outlook displaying an e-mail with a smart tag and some custom UI in the Task Pane:
IBF is simply a framework within Office 2003 for working with the Task Pane and using smart-tags to perform context sensitive actions. An IBF solution is written using .NET V1.1.
A typical IBF solution will use SmartTags to recognize text in an Office document and then supply the user with operations that are linked to that text - for example, recognizing a CustomerId might provide options to "view customer account" or "view recent purchases by customer". Invoking these smart tag options would display some UI in the Office2003 Task Pane.
The UI pieces are written using simple WinForms UserControls, so development is as easy as creating any normal piece of UI in WinForms.
Finally, IBF contains 3 pieces:
- a development component which plugs-in to VS2003 and allows developers to develop solutions that target IBF
- a server component which contains all of the metadata about the solution
- a client component which gets installed on each client and connects to the server component to get its instructions
Note: I'll be adding to this list over the coming days with links to IBF-related blogs, articles and multimedia