Using VBA to Develop Utilities

Excel 5, released in 1992, was the first version of Excel to include VBA. When I received the beta version of Excel 5, I was very impressed by VBA's potential. VBA was light years ahead of Excel's powerful (but cryptic) XLM macro language, and I decided that I wanted to explore this new language and see what it was capable of.

In an effort to learn VBA, I wrote a collection of Excel utilities by using only VBA. I figured that I would learn the language more quickly if I gave myself a tangible goal. The result was a product that I call the Power Utility Pak for Excel, which is available to you at no charge as a benefit of buying this book (use the coupon in the back of the book to order your copy).

I learned several things from my initial efforts on this project:

■ VBA can be difficult to grasp at first, but it becomes much easier with practice.

■ Experimentation is the key to mastering VBA. Every project that I undertake usually involves dozens of small coding experiments that eventually lead to a finished product.

■ VBA enables you to extend Excel in a way that is consistent with Excel's look and feel, including custom worksheet functions and dialog boxes. And, if you're willing to step outside of VBA, you can write XML code to customize the Ribbon.

Excel can do almost anything. When you reach a dead end, chances are that another path leads to a solution. It helps if you're creative and know where to look for help.

Few other software packages include such an extensive set of tools that enable the end user to extend the software.


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