What Is an Excel Application

First of all, I should define what I mean by an Excel application. By Excel application, I mean a spreadsheet that you have developed using Excel and VBA for use by yourself or other users. VBA stands for Visual Basic for Applications, which is essentially Visual Basic that has been modified to run within other host applications such as Excel or Microsoft Word. Excel applications contain VBA code that may perform one or more of the following tasks:

Automate tedious processes. Many times, once you create a useful spreadsheet, in order to maintain it, you need to perform a set of tasks in a specific order on a frequent basis. Often, you can automate such simple tasks using Excel's macro recorder. For more complex tasks you need to write VBA code.

Enhance the user experience. The experience and comfort level of people using Excel varies widely. One way to spread the wealth of a useful spreadsheet is to incorporate a user interface into the workbook that can serve to guide the less experienced users and help the more experienced users work more efficiently.

Hide the underlying complexity of a spreadsheet. One of the quickest ways to limit the usefulness of an otherwise excellent spreadsheet is to expose people to numerous worksheets containing an expanse of calculations or data. You can use VBA to manage the layout and display of a workbook so that users don't get lost in your otherwise brilliant work.

Integrate with another application or database. Most corporate data is locked in other applications or databases. By enabling Excel to integrate with these sources of data, you can empower users to analyze this data with much greater efficiency.

Prevent the modification of certain aspects of a spreadsheet. Once you have laboriously created your spreadsheet, you are apt to have sections that others could modify to their own detriment. To prevent this from occurring, you can use various techniques to allow others to interact with the workbook only in the ways that you intended.

Some Excel applications contain very little code. These applications are models that are thoughtfully and consciously designed for the task at hand by applying sound design methodologies to the design of a spreadsheet. Although you'll find a sprinkling of advice regarding general design methodologies throughout this book, I focus more on teaching you how to use VBA rather than how to design efficient spreadsheets.

WHAT IS AN EXCEL APPLICATION? 5

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