Microsoft previews new Teams Development toolkit for Visual Studio

Git patch

Microsoft has released Preview 3 of Visual Studio 2022 17.3, including a major update to its Teams Toolkit for quick development of Teams add-ins.

New project types include notification bots, which send chat messages to Teams based on triggers of various types, command bots which respond to chat commands, and message extensions which let users initiate actions in an external application from messages or from the Teams command box. There is also an option for tab applications, as in the existing Teams project type.

Creating a Teams application in Visual Studio 2022 preview

The Teams command box is an area in the title bar of the desktop apps that is by default a search box. However if users type a slash, a menu of commands appears and these can be extended by developers.

Teams usage benefited from COVID-enforced lockdown and the boom in remote working. In January this year, Microsoft’s communication chief Frank Shaw reported over 270 million monthly active users. In Microsoft’s platform businesses it has become a place where users live – though since any web page can be a tab in a Team, it is not necessary to use a toolkit merely to surface an application in Teams. The power of the toolkit though is the ability to integrate with Teams chat for alerts and commands.

The Teams Toolkit is not just for Visual Studio. The source code is on GitHub as a multi-platform project and the official guidance is that JavaScript and TypeScript developers should use it with Visual Studio Code, and .NET developers with Visual Studio. According to the roadmap Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio will be generally available in “Q3-Q4 2022.”

A Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio app is indeed a .NET application and will be familiar to ASP.NET Core developers. The Toolkit is not just a set of project templates. A Teams Tools menu offers to “Provision in the Cloud … “ and “Deploy to the Cloud …” as well as “Preview in Teams”. By cloud Microsoft means Azure, and to discover what is likely to be provisioned developers are pointed to the VS Code documentation though even this does not cover the exact specification of the cost incurring resources. That said, these tools do generate documents in bicep format which can be customized; an important consideration since the tools cannot know the scale of any particular Teams deployment and may over or under-provision.

Provisioning options for a Teams Toolkit project

The Teams Toolkit is the main new feature in the latest Visual Studio preview. Other Visual Studio news includes the arrival in Visual Studio 2022 of the RDLC Report Designer and extensions for SQL Server Analysis and Reporting Services, long awaited by developers still using Windows Forms and Web Forms for applications. Program Manager Sinem Akinci also notes the ability to use the Visual Studio terminal window for SSH connections, a handy feature that was in the June Visual Studio 17.3 preview.