Microsoft has unveiled plans for turning its upcoming Office 11 business productivity suite into an extensible platform for business applications using a set of tools that will allow Visual Studio .NET developers to build business-specific applications based on Word and Excel documents. Dubbed Visual Studio Tools for Office, the technology is designed to allow developers to design Word and Excel templates with an underlying customer-defined XML structure, based on corporate, departmental, or industry-wide schemas. In this way, developers will be able to build document-based applications with context-specific help and supporting information. The tools support the Visual Basic .NET and Visual C# .NET programming languages, and developers will have access to other features of Visual Studio .NET 2003, including its editor and debugging environment, and designers for creating user interfaces, working with data and XML, and building server-side code and components. Other features of Office 11 will also be available, including smart documents and smart tags, to help create customized applications. Office 11 also includes integrated support for XML Web services, XSL, and XPath. Both Office 11 and Visual Studio Tools for Office will be made available in mid-2003. Microsoft has yet to release pricing and availability details.