Office Routing Plus has a New User’s Manual

A new user’s manual has been put together for Office Routing Plus.  This is a very comprehensive manual from the end-user’s perspective and it will be kept up to date as new versions are released.  The online manual that has been out there for some time is the technical manual and this has also recently been updated.  To view or download a local copy of the user’s manual (PDF format) go to: and at the top of the page you will see a link for the User’s Manual

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Office Routing Plus Now Supports Office 2010 64 Bit Version

The Office Routing Plus add-in now supports the 64 bit version of Office 2010.  Office 2010 is the very first version of Microsoft Office, which runs in 64 bit mode on 64 bit machines.  Read more about the 64 bit version of Office here.

If your company needs to install the Office Routing Plus add-in on 64 bit versions of Office, request the special 64 bit installer.  Note that a 64 bit Operating System running a 32 bit version of Office 2010 does NOT need the 64 bit installer; in this case you may use the standard 32 bit installer.  Bitness in the case of Office Routing Plus is defined by the bitness of Office 2010 and not the OS.

To get the add-in to run in 64 bit versions of Office involved a good deal of trial and error.  Many thanks to Wade Roesner of Bedford Industries (a current client of Office Routing Plus) for assisting a good deal in troubleshooting on some 64 bit Office machines in their environment.  After working with Wade, his final comment was “Thank you for developing this tool and your excellent support of it.”  Many thanks to you for diligently testing and for your patience as well.

If any tech geeks are wondering what the fix was, read on below.

Our first attempt to get this working was to recompile the ORP .NET assembly itself and target for 64 bit machines.  After reading a few blogs on this subject, we realized that this was not necessary for an Office 64 bit version that needs to run an Office Shared Com Add-In; the default target of “Any CPU” was sufficient.  But what was happening was the add-in would register to the wow6432Node in the registry on a 64 bit OS.  This was a problem because 64 bit versions of Office cannot see add-ins in the wow6432Node as this article describes.  And, we still needed to find a way to mark the assembly itself as a 64 bit assembly, but apparently not through Visual Studio itself as noted above.  The final fix came from the Advanced Installer support team.  They advised that we mark all components that get registered upon install as 64 bit components inside of the Advanced Installer setup file and that we also mark the installation type property in the Advanced Installer setup project as 64 bit.  Everything worked after this–the add-in registered to the proper location (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Excel\AddIns\RoutingSolution_sharedComAddIn.Connect) and the add-in responds within Word/Excel 2010.

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ORP – No Longer Contingent Upon Outlook; User Configuration Settings Now Stored Per User Rather Than per Machine

Office Routing Plus version 3.00 has been released, and it has some great new features.  If your company would like to upgrade to version 3.00 or higher, you must be current with your support plan.  The summary of version 3.00 is below. For the complete Office Routing Plus Changelog click here.

Summary of 3.00

  • Office Routing Plus is now fully functional, independent of Outlook or any specific email client running on the client machine. There is now a configuration button in the program, which will allow the end user to select Outlook as the client, or to enter custom SMTP settings for any Email program. Users may also use the new configuration tool to set the recipient selection mode–meaning where ORP should get recipient names from to display as potential routing recipients. The options are: Outlook, Active Directory, or Manual (which lets users just type in any recipient name without a listing of users from their organization). 
  • Another important change in this release is that ORP now stores all config files per user rather than per machine (ORP utilizes the %AppData% folder, intended by Microsoft Windows for per user settings for applications. In Windows XP this would be: C:\Documents and Settings\*user name*\Application Data\Office Routing Plus\.  On Vista and Windows 7, it is at C:\Users\*username*\AppData\Roaming\Office Routing Plus.   For existing customers whose configuration files are currently stored per machine, after obtaining this version, ORP will copy the existing settings from this machine to the user AppData folder referenced above.
  • This version also uses a different method for loading the 3rd party Redemption product, which is used to communicate with Outlook. This will address some of the errors that we occasionally see with redemption not loading properly on some machines. 
  • Aesthetic changes to the main form.
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ORP has a new installer!

ORP New Installer

ORP New Installer

As of September 2010, Office Routing Plus (ORP) now has a new new installer!  For a year and a half, we were using the built-in Visual Studio installer as our authoring package.  This has generally served us well, but there have been some limitations and some black boxes from the start.  The biggest challenge that became the primary impetus for the switch to Advanced Installer was the arrival of Office 2010.  Many of our customers will recall that we used to offer two installers: one for “Mixed Environments” (which meant Office 2003 machines mixed in with Office 2007), and a separate installer for pure Office 2007 environments.  The reason we had to do this was because for ORP to run on Office 2003, we needed to deploy a Microsoft KB pack (specifically KB908002 aka KB907417).  This KB pack was required for the Add-In to load on Office 2003 machines for Shared Com Add Ins developed on the 2.0 .NET Framework.  We did not want to deploy this to 2007 machines so we created to separate installers because there was not a simple way in the Visual Studio installer to tell it to make this KB pack (and the 2003 Office Primary Interop files) a prerequisite for only 2003 Office machines but not 2007 Office machines.  Further, when the installer ran on 2007 machines, we wanted 2007 the 2007 Primary Interop files to be the prereq check.  It is possible that we could have somehow changed the built in bootstrapper that resides in Visual Studio for the KB pack and for the Primary Interop files to dynamically determine the version of Office a machine is running and then deploy just what is needed accordingly to that machine.  But these bootstrappers seemed to us to be a black box and rather proprietary and it was a daunting task to even consider changing something that wasn’t our own MSI package or bootstrapper to begin with.  So for a year and a half we managed this situation by simply deploying two separate installers–the mixed and the pure 2007 version.  This was cumbersome though because we were also managing separate installers for the bundled package, as well as the single Excel and single Word installers.  With the advent of 2010, it became unthinkable to manage 3 installers for the 3 versions of Office, times 3 installers for single Excel/Word or bundled!  So after a good amount of research and testing of the Visual Studio package, we decided to eliminate some of the black box and limitations of the old Visual Studio installers we were creating and go with a product called Advanced Installer.  This is a widely used product.  We had some initial difficulties in determining the version of Office safely and consistently and in deploying the KB pack mentioned above (the pack actually consists of 2 msi packages and one self extracting exe).  After posting to the Advanced Installer forums and receiving very thorough answers from their support team on the forum, we were over the initial learning curve and we have been quite pleased with the product.

With Advanced Installer, not only have we been able to author a single package that can dynamically determine which of the 3 versions of Office any machine is running and deploy the required prereqs accordingly, but we have also found that many customers are much happier with the unattended/silent install capabilities of this package.  Customers can now simply call the setup.exe with the  /qn switch and the install is completely silent.  The old package could also be called with a /q or /qn switch but the interface for the KB pack from Microsoft would still display no matter what; this was one of the black boxes alluded to above.  We also see good potential for flexibility and customization of the installer and future installers that we will be authoring with this tool.  We have been very pleased with this product and the enhancement it has provided to Office Routing Plus.

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