Some Basic Background

Many hard-core programmers scoff at the idea of programming in BASIC. The name itself (an acronym for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) suggests that it's not a professional language. In fact, BASIC was first developed in the early 1960s as a way to teach programming techniques to college students. BASIC caught on quickly and is available in hundreds of dialects for many types of computers.

BASIC has evolved and improved over the years. For example, in many early implementations, BASIC was an interpreted language. Each line was interpreted before it was executed, causing slow performance. Most modern dialects of BASIC allow the code to be compiled, resulting in much faster execution and improved program portability.

BASIC gained quite a bit of respectability in 1991 when Microsoft released Visual Basic for Windows. This product made it easy for the masses to develop standalone applications for Windows. Visual Basic has very little in common with early versions of BASIC, but BASIC is the foundation on which VBA was built.

About VBA

Excel 5 was the first application on the market to feature Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). VBA is best thought of as Microsoft's common application scripting language, and it's now included with all Office 2003 applications, and even applications from other vendors. Therefore, if you master VBA by using Excel, you'll be able to jump right in and write macros for other Microsoft (and non-Microsoft) products. Even better, you'll be able to create complete solutions that use features across various applications.

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