Choosing between Excel Add-In, Template and Workbook?

I'm looking for some high-level help with determining the best type of Visual Studio 2010 project to use for an Excel custom application.

I will be developing a program that requires the user to enter a dataset in a particular way. Not using a form per se, but rather in columns and the program will need to do some custom validation on the items in order to prep the data. From there, the user will be able to conduct various operations on the data via a custom Ribbon and associated options. The program will also transmit the data via web service.

I've fooled around with the Add-In project and that gives me a lot of what I need but I'm wondering if a Template or Workbook project is better for this in terms of data entry and being able to "guide" the user a little more.

How do you go about choosing between which project type to use? Do all the project types support a custom Ribbon?


Sorry if this is too far off topic. I'm referring to VBA, not Visual Studio, but it might still be relevant.

With an AddIn, compared to a Workbook, you can separate your code from the user's data. So, if the code is complex, and you'll need to update it separately from user's workbooks with data, this is not a bad idea.

With an AddIn, you can add buttons that do things like check to make sure the user data workbook is ok, or process it in someway. However, the AddIn custom buttons will load ever time a user opens any Excel worksheet. This doesn't sound good, but in practice, isn't so bad. You can code your AddIn so it does nothing as long as no one uses a button, so it almost doesn't hurt load times, etc...

A Workbook might be useful if you need to really guide the user - that is, you cannot rely on the user to hit a button to verify something, and instead you need to verify on every change, for example. However, the workbook solution incorporates the user data and your code in the same workbook, so if you need to update the code for existing users' data, that's harder.

I use a combination of AddIn (.xlam) with buttons, and a template (with minimal self-describing data only).

I'm not sure about the template-only option, so won't comment on that.

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