Provide a free preview of Office Documents

NOTE that this tip requires Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows 95/NT 4.0 + Active Desktop.If your application must do a lot of work with Office documents, then chances are that you might need to provide a quick preview of them. I’m not talking about scrolling pages up and down as in Word or Excel but just a quick snapshot of the first page of document. In other words, the same functionality that the Windows shell makes available once you installed Active Desktop on Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0 or switch to Web mode under newer operating systems.

Try selecting a Word document in the shell, in Web mode, and a preview of the document should appear in the right part of the shell view within Explorer.To say the truth, such a preview appears only if the document itself embeds a preview image. You can make sure of this by looking at the document’s properties through the context menu. You’ll find a special checkbox to embed or not a preview image of the document.

To display such a preview also in your own applications you have to exploit a system provided ActiveX control. After opening the VB Components dialog, pick up the Webvw 1.0 Type Library control. It comprises two components. The one we’re interested in is ThumbCtl. It looks like an Image control and provides a DisplayFile method. It supports GIF, JPEG, WMF, BMP, HTML and Office documents as well (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). Here’s the straightforward code to exploit its services:

Private Sub Command1_Click()   ThumbCtl1.displayFile Text1.TextEnd Sub

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