An Excursion into Versions

If you plan to develop VBA macros, you should have some understanding of Excel's history. I know you weren't expecting a history lesson when you picked up this book, but bear with me. This is important stuff.

Here are all the major Excel for Windows versions that have seen the light of day, along with a few words about how they handle macros:

i Excel 2: The original version of Excel for Windows was called Version 2 (rather than 1) so that it would correspond to the Macintosh version. Excel 2 first appeared in 1987 and nobody uses it anymore, so you can pretty much forget that it ever existed.

i Excel 3: Released in late 1990, this version features the XLM macro language. Nobody uses this version either.

i Excel 4: This version hit the streets in early 1992. It also uses the XLM macro language. A small number of people still use this version. (They subscribe to the philosophy if it ain't broke, don't fix it.)

i Excel 5: This one came out in early 1994. It was the first version to use VBA (but it also supports XLM). Excel 5 users are becoming increasingly rare.

1 Excel 95: Technically known as Excel 7 (there is no Excel 6), this version began shipping in the summer of 1995. It's a 32-bit version and requires Windows 95 or Windows NT. It has a few VBA enhancements, and it supports the XLM language. Occasionally, I'll run into someone who still uses this version.

1 Excel 97: This version (also known as Excel 8) was born in January, 1997. It has many enhancements and features an entirely new interface for programming VBA macros. Excel 97 also uses a new file format (which previous Excel versions cannot open). A fair number of people continue to use this version.

1 Excel 2000: This version's numbering scheme jumped to four digits. Excel 2000 (also known as Excel 9) made its public debut in June 1999. It includes only a few enhancements from a programmer's perspective, with most enhancements being for users — particularly online users. With Excel 2000 came the option to digitally sign macros, thus enabling you to guarantee your users that the code delivered is truly yours. Excel 2000 still has a modest number of users.

1 Excel 2002: This version (also known as Excel 10 or Excel XP) appeared in late 2001. Perhaps this version's most significant feature is the ability to recover your work when Excel crashes. This is also the first version to use copy protection (known as product activation).

1 Excel 2003: Of all the Excel upgrades I've ever seen (and I've seen them all), Excel 2003 has the fewest new features. In other words, most hardcore Excel users (including yours truly) were very disappointed with Excel 2003. Yet people still bought it. I think these were the folks moving up from a pre-Excel 2002 version.

1 Excel 2007: The latest, and without a doubt, the greatest. Microsoft outdid its corporate self with this version. Excel 2007 has a new look, a new user interface, and now supports more than a million rows. This book is written for Excel 2007, so if you don't have this version, you're reading the wrong book.

So what's the point of this mini history lesson? If you plan to distribute your Excel/VBA files to other users, it's vitally important that you understand which version of Excel they use. People using an older version won't be able to take advantage of features introduced in later versions. For example, if you write VBA code that references cell XFD1048576 (the last cell in a workbook) , those who use an earlier version will get an error because pre-Excel 2007 worksheets only had 65,536 rows and 255 columns (the last cell is IV65536). Excel 2007 also has some new objects, methods, and properties. If you use these in your code, users with an older version of Excel will get an error when they run your macro — and you'll get the blame.

Chapter 2

Jumping Right In

In This Chapter

^ Developing a useful VBA macro: A hands-on, step-by-step example ^ Recording your actions by using Excel's macro recorder ^ Examining and testing recorded code ^ Changing recorded macro f

'm not much of a swimmer, but I have found that the best way to get into a cold body of water is to jump right in — no sense prolonging the agony. By wading through this chapter, you can get your feet wet immediately but avoid getting in over your head.

By the time you reach the end of this chapter, you may start feeling better about this Excel programming business, and you'll be glad you took the plunge. This chapter provides a step-by-step demonstration of how to develop a simple but useful VBA macro.

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