What Makes a Good Utility

An Excel utility, of course, should ultimately make your job easier or more efficient. But if you're developing utilities for other users, what makes an Excel utility valuable? I've put together a list of elements that are common to good utilities:

■ It adds something to Excel. This could be a new feature, a way to combine existing features, or just a way to make an existing feature easier to use.

■ It's general in nature. Ideally, a utility should be useful under a wide variety of conditions. Of course, it's more difficult to write a general-purpose utility than it is to write one that works in a highly defined environment.

■ It's flexible. The best utilities provide many options to handle various situations.

■ It looks, works, and feels like an Excel command. Although adding your own special touch to utilities is tempting, other users will find them easier to use if they look and act like familiar Excel commands and dialog boxes.

■ It provides help for the user when needed. In other words, the utility requires documentation that's thorough and accessible.

■ It traps errors. An end user should never see a VBA error message. Any error messages that appear should be ones that you write.

■ Users can undo its effects. Users who don't like the result caused by your utility should be able to reverse their path.


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