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Creating Your Own Research Service for the Microsoft Office 2003 Research Library

Need to give users the ability to do quick searches of corporate data without adding yet another application to each user's desktop? The Research Library may be your answer. If your users have Office 2003, the user part is already there. All you have to do is add the research service.




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Figure 1: The Research Library is available from the task pane.
icrosoft Office 2003 Editions add a powerful new tool to the Office task pane: the Research Library.By default, the Research Library allows you to type in a word or phrase and search for the term using several built-in resources. The Research Library is also extensible: you can add your own research service simply by creating a Web service that follows schemas defined by Microsoft for research services. In this article, you'll look at the nuts and bolts of the Research Library and see how you can use Microsoft Visual Studio .NET to create your own research service. If you are new to Microsoft Visual Basic .NET (VB.NET), you will become familiar with some of the coding techniques needed to create research services in VB.NET. You'll also learn how to use various formatting tags to change the appearance of the result and how to provide a custom search form for your research service.

Working with the Research Library in the Task Pane
The Research Library is available from the task pane in Microsoft Office Excel 2003, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003, Microsoft Office Word 2003, and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003. You can display the Research task pane by selecting Research from the Tools menu, or by pressing Ctrl+F1 and choosing Research from the Other Task Panes drop-down list. As you can see in Figure 1, the Research task pane provides a text box for you to enter the word or phrase on which to search, a drop-down list where you can choose to limit the search to a single resource, and an area for displaying the results. Figure 1 shows the Research task pane after the user has queried the thesaurus for a particular word; the user could have selected any of the resources shown in Figure 2 or searched all resources for the same term. You can customize the Research task pane to show other resources by clicking Research Options at the bottom of the pane. The Research Options dialog box, shown in Figure 3, lists additional resources. These resources are mostly international versions of the default resources. Although these resources may be useful, they are not as intriguing as the command button in the bottom left-hand corner of the dialog box: the Add Services button. It's this button that separates the Research Library from other useful features available in interactive Office 2003.

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