Troubleshooting Add-ins (apps) for Microsoft Office
Preamble (skip the preamble!)
We are very grateful to Microsoft for creating an ‘app’ ecosystem for developers like 11trees. Compared to five years ago it is much easier to create solutions for Microsoft Office that work across Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows.
But Microsoft’s approach is a relatively new one and still under rapid development. For instance, if your version of Word 2016 hasn’t been updated since 2016 (common amongst computers provided by universities) you may have a hard time using Add-ins like Annotate PRO. Ironically, things are worse if you are a Windows user (vs. macOS).
This is because Add-ins like Annotate PRO and Q for Success are essentially little web pages that run inside Microsoft Word. As such, they depend on a web page rendering platform to run. For Windows users (even Windows 10) this means Internet Explorer 11.
If you’re a techie your brain is about to explode. If you aren’t, you should know that “IE11” is pretty ancient when it comes to browsers…Microsoft only use it (vs. their modern browser, Edge) because they still have to support Windows 7 users…who can’t install Edge. Sigh.
On a Mac? Bully for you! Microsoft Office uses the latest-and-greatest web engine from Apple, WebKit. So, maybe for the first time, Mac users are further ahead than Windows users when it comes to Microsoft stuff.
The naming and versioning conventions are also very difficulty to follow – this is not “you can have any color as long as it is black.” It’s “there are 25 different ways to license Microsoft Office and it’s very hard to decipher which one you have!
Okay – enough with the history lesson…how do you troubleshoot?
Steps to troubleshoot and help US help YOU:
- Make sure you update Microsoft Office / Microsoft Word.
- You may not have the rights to update Word…and your institution may have left you stranded on an old version of Word 2016.
- You can discover what version of Word 2016 you have by clicking File > Account on a Windows computer and Word > About Microsoft Word on a Mac computer. You are looking for “Version 16.xxxx” where ‘xxxx’ contains specific numbers. As of August, 2018 the most recent versions of Microsoft Word are 16.16 for Mac and 16.0.9126.2275 on Windows. For instance, we regularly run into schools with Windows computers running 16.0.6568.1000, which is from early 2016. If you cannot update Word yourself, try asking your IT department for help. They’re usually glad to hear from someone wanting something new and updated.
- If you are a Windows user, make sure Internet Explorer 11 is updated. Since you probably don’t use it as your default browser, this could make a big difference. Windows 10 users will probably have IE11 updated along with updates to Windows 10 itself. Older versions of Windows should follow the update/install process detailed here.
- Once you’re sure everything is as up to date as possible, and you’re still having trouble with one of our solutions for Microsoft Office, these arcane but fast and straightforward steps will help us understand what is happening. You must have Windows 8 or Windows 10 to take these steps (sorry Windows 7 users!).
- Open Microsoft Word and (if possible) click to start our solution (Annotate PRO or Q for Success) so you have a taskpane open.
- Next, open the F12Chooser application that comes with Windows. There are two versions of this application. Use the version of the F12Chooser that matches the version of the Office client application you are running.
* 32-bit – C:\Windows\System32\F12\F12Chooser.exe
* 64-bit – C:\Windows\SysWOW64\F12\F12Chooser.exe
- Once you have run the appropriate “F12Choose.exe” program you’ll see panels for each app running. Most likely ours will be the only one. Double-click to run the debugger on our solution.
- You’ll see a window much like the one below. Click the Console tab at the top and scroll to the bottom of the long list of arcane messages. Are there any in red? Any clear “errors”? Take some screenshots and send them to us – it will help immensely.
(click image for a larger view)