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Professional Excel Development: The Definitive Guide to Developing Applications Using Microsoft Excel, VBA, and .NET / Edition 2 available in Paperback
“As Excel applications become more complex and the Windows development platform more powerful, Excel developers need books like this to help them evolve their solutions to the next level of sophistication. Professional Excel Development is a book for developers who want to build powerful, state-of-the-art Excel applications using the latest Microsoft technologies.”
–Gabhan Berry, Program Manager, Excel Programmability, Microsoft
“The first edition of Professional Excel Development is my most-consulted and most-recommended book on Office development. The second edition expands both the depth and range. It shines because it takes every issue one step further than you expect. The book relies on the authors’ current, real-world experience to cover not only how a feature works, but also the practical implications of using it in professional work.”
–Shauna Kelly, Director, Thendara Green
“This book illustrates techniques that will result in well-designed, robust, and maintainable Excel-based applications. The authors’ advice comes from decades of solid experience of designing and building applications. The practicality of the methods is well illustrated by the example timesheet application that is developed step-by-step through the book. Every serious Excel developer should read this and learn from it. I did.”
– Bill Manville, Application Developer, Bill Manville Associates
The Start-to-Finish Guide to Building State-of-the-Art Solutions with Excel 2007
In this book, four world-class Microsoft® Excel developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors—three of whom have been honored by Microsoft as Excel Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs)—show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel’s most powerful new features. Using their techniques,you can reduce development costs, time to market, and hassle—and build more effective, successful solutions.
Fully updated for Excel 2007, this book starts where other books on Excel programming leave off. Through a hands-on case study project, you’ll discover best practices for planning, architecting, and building Excel applications that are robust, secure, easy to maintain, and highly usable. If you’re a working developer, no other book on Excel programming offers you this much depth, insight, or value.
• Design worksheets that will be more useful and reliable
• Leverage built-in and application-specific add-ins
• Construct applications that behave like independent Windows programs
• Make the most of the new Ribbon user interface
• Create cross-version applications that work with legacy versions of Excel
• Utilize XML within Excel applications
• Understand and use Windows API calls
• Master VBA error handling, debugging, and performance optimization
• Develop applications based on data stored in Access, SQL Server, and other databases
• Build powerful visualization solutions with Excel charting engine
• Learn how to work with VB.NET and leverage its IDE
• Automate Microsoft Excel with VB.NET
• Create managed COM add-ins for Microsoft Excel with VB.NET
• Develop Excel solutions with Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO)
• Integrate Excel with Web Services
• Deploy applications more securely and efficiently
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments . . . xiv
About the Authors . . . xv
Chapter 1 Introduction
About This Book . . . 1
Who Should Read This Book . . . 2
Excel Developer Categories . . . 2
Excel as an Application Development Platform . . . 4
Structure . . . 7
Examples . . . 8
Supported Versions of Excel . . . 9
Typefaces . . . 10
On the CD . . . 10
Help and Support . . . 11
The Professional Excel Development Web Site . . . 12
Feedback . . . 12
Chapter 2 Application Architectures
Concepts . . . 13
Chapter 3 Excel and VBA Development Best Practices
Naming Conventions . . . 27
Best Practices for Application Structure and Organization . . . 40
General Application Development Best Practices . . . 45
Chapter 4 Worksheet Design
Principles of Good Worksheet UI Design . . . 69
Program Rows and Columns: The Fundamental UI Design Technique . . . 70
Defined Names . . . 71
Styles . . . 78
User Interface Drawing Techniques . . . 83
Data Validation . . . 88
Conditional Formatting . . . 92
Using Controls on Worksheets . . . 98
Practical Example . . . 100
Chapter 5 Function, General, and Application-Specific Add-ins
The Four Stages of an Application . . . 107
Function Library Add-ins . . . 110
General Add-ins . . . 117
Application-Specific Add-ins . . . 118
Practical Example . . . 125
Chapter 6 Dictator Applications
Structure of a Dictator Application . . . 141
Practical Example . . . 157
Chapter 7 Using Class Modules to Create Objects
Creating Objects . . . 166
Creating a Collection . . . 170
Trapping Events . . . 177
Raising Events . . . 180
Practical Example . . . 188
Chapter 8 Advanced Command Bar Handling
Command Bar Design . . . 198
Table-Driven Command Bars . . . 199
Putting It All Together . . . 219
Loading Custom Icons from Files . . . 228
Hooking Command Bar Control Events . . . 232
Practical Example . . . 241
Chapter 9 Introduction to XML
XML . . . 249
Chapter 10 The Office 2007 Ribbon User Interface
The RibbonX Paradigm . . . 273
An Introduction to the Office 2007 Open XML File Format . . . 274
Ribbon Design and Coding Best Practices . . . 278
Table-Driven Ribbon UI Customization . . . 289
Advanced Problem Solving . . . 291
Further Reading . . . 300
Related Portals . . . 300
Chapter 11 Creating Cross-Version Applications
Command Bar and Ribbon User Interfaces in a Single Application . . . 304
Other Excel 2007 Development Issues . . . 319
Windows Vista Security and Folder Structure . . . 326
Chapter 12 Understanding and Using Windows API Calls Overview . . . 331
Working with the Screen . . . 337
Working with Windows . . . 340
Working with the Keyboard . . . 349
Working with the File System and Network . . . 355
Practical Examples . . . 369
Chapter 13 UserForm Design and Best Practices
Principles . . . 375
Control Fundamentals . . . 384
Visual Effects . . . 392
UserForm Positioning and Sizing . . . 400
Wizards . . . 407
Dynamic UserForms . . . 411
Modeless UserForms . . . 419
Control Specifics . . . 425
Practical Example . . . 432
Chapter 14 Interfaces
What Is an Interface? . . . 433
Code Reuse . . . 435
Defining a Custom Interface . . . 437
Implementing a Custom Interface . . . 438
Using a Custom Interface . . . 440
Polymorphic Classes . . . 443
Improving Robustness . . . 448
Simplifying Development . . . 448
A Plug-in Architecture . . . 460
Practical Example . . . 462
Chapter 15 VBA Error Handling
Error Handling Concepts . . . 465
The Single Exit Point Principle . . . 475
Simple Error Handling . . . 475
Complex Project Error Handler Organization . . . 476
The Central Error Handler . . . 481
Error Handling in Classes and UserForms . . . 488
Putting It All Together . . . 490
Practical Example . . . 496
Chapter 16 VBA Debugging
Basic VBA Debugging Techniques . . . 507
The Immediate Window (Ctrl+G) . . . 517
The Call Stack (Ctrl+L) . . . 521
The Watch Window . . . 522
The Locals Window . . . 532
The Object Browser (F2) . . . 533
Creating and Running a Test Harness . . . 537
Using Assertions . . . 540
Debugging Shortcut Keys That Every Developer Should Know . . . 542
Chapter 17 Optimizing VBA Performance
Measuring Performance . . . 545
The PerfMon Utility . . . 546
Creative Thinking . . . 551
Macro-Optimization . . . 556
Micro-Optimization . . . 567
Chapter 18 Introduction to Database Development
An Introduction to Databases . . . 577
An Introduction to SQL . . . 594
Data Access with ADO . . . 598
Further Reading . . . 613
Chapter 19 Programming with Access and SQL Server
A Note on the Northwind Sample Database . . . 615
Designing the Data Access Tier . . . 616
Working with Microsoft Access Databases . . . 620
Working with Microsoft SQL Server Databases . . . 630
Upsizing from Access to SQL Server . . . 642
Further Reading . . . 647
Practical Example . . . 648
Chapter 20 Data Manipulation Techniques
Excel’s Data Structures . . . 661
Data Processing Features . . . 667
Advanced Functions . . . 678
Chapter 21 Advanced Charting Techniques
Fundamental Techniques . . . 687
VBA Techniques . . . 702
Chapter 22 Controlling Other Office Applications
Fundamentals . . . 709
The Primary Office Application Object Models . . . 725
Further Reading . . . 739
Practical Example . . . 740
Chapter 23 Excel and Visual Basic 6
A Hello World ActiveX DLL . . . 742
Why Use VB6 ActiveX DLLs in Excel VBA Projects . . . 758
In-Process Versus Out-of-Process . . . 774
Automating Excel from a VB6 EXE . . . 775
COM Add-ins . . . 783
A “Hello World” COM Add-in . . . 783
The Add-in Designer . . . 788
Installation Considerations . . . 790
The AddinInstance Events . . . 792
Command Bar Handling . . . 795
Why Use a COM Add-in? . . . 798
Automation Add-ins . . . 799
Practical Examples . . . 802
Chapter 24 Excel and VB.NET
.NET Framework Fundamentals . . . 818
Visual Basic.NET . . . 819
Debugging . . . 845
Useful Development Tools . . . 853
Automating Excel . . . 855
Resources in .NET Solutions . . . 863
Retrieving Data with ADO.NET . . . 864
Further Reading . . . 870
Additional Development Tools . . . 871
Q&A Forums . . . 871
Practical Example–PETRAS Report Tool .NET . . . 872
Chapter 25 Writing Managed COM Add-ins with VB.NET
Choosing a Development Toolset . . . 890
Creating a Managed COM Add-in . . . 891
Building the User Interface . . . 908
Creating Managed Automation Add-ins . . . 928
Manually Register and Unregister COM Add-ins . . . 940
Using Classes in VB.NET . . . 940
Using Classic ADO to Export Data to Excel . . . 948
Shimming COM Add-ins . . . 952
Related Blogs . . . 962
Additional Development Tools . . . 962
Practical Example–PETRAS Report Tool.NET . . . 963
Chapter 26 Developing Excel Solutions with Visual Studio Tools for Office System (VSTO)
What Is VSTO? . . . 976
When Should You Use VSTO? . . . 983
Working with VSTO Add-Ins . . . 985
Working with VSTO Templates and Workbook Solutions . . . 1006
Deployment and Security . . . 1016
Further Reading . . . 1026
Related Portal and Blogs . . . 1026
Additional Development Tools . . . 1026
Chapter 27 XLLs and the C API
Why Create an XLL-Based Worksheet Function . . . 1029
Creating an XLL Project in Visual Studio . . . 1030
The Structure of an XLL . . . 1034
The XLOPER and OPER Data Types . . . 1044
The Excel4 Function . . . 1050
Commonly Used C API Functions . . . 1052
XLOPERs and Memory Management . . . 1053
Registering and Unregistering Custom Worksheet Functions . . . 1054
Sample Application Function . . . 1057
Debugging the Worksheet Functions . . .1060
Miscellaneous Topics . . .1061
Additional Resources . . . 1062
Chapter 28 Excel and Web Services
Web Services . . . 1065
Practical Example . . . 1072
Chapter 29 Providing Help, Securing, Packaging, and Distributing
Providing Help . . . 1085
Securing . . . 1094
Packaging . ..1099
Distributing . . . 1104
Index . . . 1107
About This Book
Microsoft Excel is much more than just a spreadsheet. With the introduction of the Visual Basic Editor in Excel 97, followed by the significantly improved stability of Excel 2000, Excel became a respected development platform in its own right. Excel applications are now found alongside those based on C++, Java, and the .NET development platform, as part of the core suite of mission-critical corporate applications.
Unfortunately, Excel is still too often thought of as a hobbyist platform, that people only develop Excel applications in their spare time to automate minor tasks. A brief look at many Excel VBA books seems to confirm this opinion. These books focus on the basics of automating Excel tasks using VBA. This book is the first of its kind in providing a detailed explanation of how to use Excel as the platform for developing professional quality applications.
While most other major development platforms seem to have a de facto standard text that explains the commonly agreed best practices for architecting, designing, and developing applications using that platform, until now Excel has not. This book attempts to fill that gap. The authors are professional Excel developers who create Excel-based applications for clients ranging from individuals to the largest multinational corporations. This book explains the approaches we use when designing, developing, distributing, and supporting the applications we write for our clients.
Who Should Read This Book
This is not a beginner-level book. If you do not already have a clear understanding of the core Excel object model and a basic understanding of Excel VBA development this is not the place to start. We assume that readers of this book have already read and (mostly) understood our Excel 2002 or 2007 VBA Programmer’s Reference, John Walkenbach’s Excel Power Programming, or similar titles. This book begins where other Excel VBA books end.
Owners of the first edition of Professional Excel Development have a different decision to make. Should you purchase the second edition? We have made numerous corrections and improvements throughout this edition as well as expanding it with over 300 pages of new material that you simply will not find anywhere else.
In the interest of full disclosure, however, we want to be very clear that the bulk of the new material is aimed at Excel developers who are working with Excel 2007 and Visual Studio 2008. If you own the first edition of this book and your primary focus is developing VBA applications in Excel 2003 and earlier, you will see incremental rather than revolutionary improvements in this edition. We don’t want to discourage you from upgrading to the second edition and would welcome it if you choose to do so. But most of all we want you to be satisfied with our work, so we state the pros and cons of upgrading honestly to help you make an informed decision.
Excel Developer Categories
Excel developers can be divided into five general categories based on their experience and knowledge of Excel and VBA. This book has something to offer each of them, but with a focus on the more advanced topics. Putting yourself into one of these categories might help you decide whether this is the right book for you.
Basic Excel users probably don’t think of themselves as developers at all. Excel is no more than a tool to help them get on with their job. They start off using Excel worksheets as a handy place to store lists or perform simple repetitive calculations. As they discover more Excel features their workbooks may begin to include more complex worksheet functions, pivot tables, and charts. There is little in this book for basic Excel users, although Chapter 4, “Worksheet Design,” details the best practices to use when designing and laying out a worksheet for data entry; Chapter 20, “Data Manipulation Techniques,” explains how to structure a worksheet and which functions and features to use to manipulate their lists; and Chapter 21, “Advanced Charting Techniques,” explains how to get the most from Excel’s chart engine. The techniques suggested in these chapters should help the basic Excel user avoid some of the pitfalls often encountered as their experience and the complexity of their worksheets increase.
Excel power users have a broad understanding of Excel’s functionality and they know which tool or function is best used in a given situation. Power users create complex workbooks for their own use and are often called on to help develop workbooks for their colleagues, or to identify why their colleagues’ workbooks don’t work as intended. Power users occasionally use snippets of VBA, either found on the Internet or created with the macro recorder, but struggle to adapt the code to their needs. As a result, their code tends to be messy, slow, and hard to maintain. While this book is not a VBA tutorial, power users have much to gain from following the best practices we suggest for both worksheets and code modules. Most of the chapters in the book are relevant to power users who have an interest in improving their Excel and VBA development skills.
VBA developers make extensive use of VBA code in their workbooks—often too much. They are typically either power users who started to learn VBA too early or Visual Basic developers who switched to Excel VBA development. While they may be proficient with VBA they believe every problem must have a VBA solution. They tend to lack the experience required to know when a problem is best solved using Excel, when a problem is best solved using VBA, and when the best solution is a combination of the two. Their solutions are often cumbersome, slow, and make poor use of the Excel object model. This book has much to offer VBA developers to improve their use of Excel itself, including best practices for designing worksheets and how to use Excel’s features for data entry, analysis, and presentation. The book also seeks to improve their Excel VBA development skills by introducing advanced coding techniques, detailing VBA best practices, and explaining how to improve VBA code performance.
Excel developers realize that the most efficient and maintainable applications are those that make the most of Excel’s built-in functionality, augmented by VBA where appropriate. They are confident in developing Excel-based applications for their colleagues or as part of an in-house development team. While their knowledge of Excel is put to good use in their applications, their design techniques tend to be limited, and they are reluctant to use other languages and applications to augment their Excel solutions. They have probably read John Walkenbach’s Excel 2003 or 2007 Power Programming and/or our own Excel 2002 or 2007 VBA Programmer’s Reference. Now they need a book to take them to the highest level of Excel application development—that of the professional developer. This is the book to do that.
Professional Excel developers design and develop for their clients or employer Excel-based applications and utilities that are robust, fast, easy to use, maintainable, and secure. While Excel forms the core of their solutions, they use other applications and languages where appropriate, including third-party ActiveX controls, Office automation, Windows API calls, external databases, various standalone programming languages, and XML. This book teaches all of those skills. If you are already a professional Excel developer, you will know that learning never stops and will appreciate the knowledge and best practices presented in this book by four of your peers.
Excel as an Application Development Platform
If we look at Excel as a development platform rather than just a spreadsheet, we find that it provides five fundamental components we can use in our applications:
- The worksheets, charts, and other objects used to create a user interface and presentation layer for data entry and reporting
- The worksheets used as simple data stores for lists, tables, and other information required by our application
- VBA code and UserForms for creating business logic and advanced user interfaces
- Worksheet formulas used as a declarative programming language for high-performance numerical processing
- The Excel object model, allowing programmatic control of (nearly) all of Excel’s functionality, both from within Excel and from outside it
The Worksheet as a Presentation Layer for Data Entry and Reporting
Most people think about Excel in terms of typing numbers into cells, having some calculations update, and seeing a result displayed in a different cell or on a chart. Without necessarily thinking in such terms, they are using the worksheet as a user interface for their data entry and reporting and are generally comfortable with these tasks. The in-cell editing, validation, and formatting features built in to Excel provide a rich and compelling data entry experience, while the charting, cell formatting, and drawing tools provide a presentation-quality reporting mechanism.
It is hard to imagine the code that would be required if we tried to reproduce this experience using the tools available in most other development environments, yet Excel provides these features right out of the box for use in our Excel-based applications. The biggest problem we face is how to add structure to the free-form worksheet grid to present a simple and easy-to-use interface, while leveraging the rich functionality of Excel. Chapter 4 introduces some techniques and best practices for developing worksheet-based data entry forms, while Chapter 21 covers charting capabilities.
The Worksheet as a Simple Data Store
What is a worksheet when it’s never intended to be shown to the end user? At its simplest, it’s no more than a large grid of cells in which we can store just about anything we want, including numbers, text, lists, tables, and pictures. Most applications use some amount of static data or graphical resources. Storing that information in a worksheet makes it both easy to access using VBA and simple to maintain. Lists and tables in worksheets can directly feed Excel’s data validation feature (as shown in Chapter 4), greatly simplify the creation and maintenance of command bars (Chapter 8, “Advanced Command Bar Handling”), and allow us to construct dynamic UserForms (Chapter 13, “UserForm Design and Best Practices”).
VBA Code and UserForms
We expect most readers of this book have at least some familiarity with VBA. If not, we suggest you read one of the resources mentioned at the beginning of this chapter before continuing much further. Many people see the “A” in VBA as meaning the language is somehow less than Visual Basic itself. In fact, both VB6 and Office use exactly the same DLL to provide the keywords, syntax, and statements we program with.
Most beginner and intermediate VBA developers use VBA as a purely procedural language, with nearly all their code residing in standard modules. VBA also allows us to create applications using an object oriented programming (OOP) approach, in which class modules are used to create our own objects. Chapter 7, “Using Class Modules to Create Objects,” and Chapter 14, “Interfaces,” explain how to use VBA in this manner, while basic OOP concepts (such as encapsulation) are used throughout the book.
Most of this book is dedicated to explaining advanced VBA techniques and a professional approach to application design and development that can put VBA in Excel on par with, and sometimes in front of, VB6 or VB.Net for application development. In Chapters 23 through 26 we show that Excel developers can achieve the best of both worlds by combining Excel with VB6 or VB.Net in a seamless application.
The Worksheet as a Declarative Programming Language
Take the following code:
dSales = 1000dPrice = 10.99dRevenue = dSales
That could easily be a few lines of VBA. We give the variable dSales a value of 1000, the variable dPrice a value of 10.99, and then calculate the revenue as sales times price. If we change the names of the variables and adjust the spacing, the same code could also be written as
D1 =1000D2 =10.99D3 =D1*D2
This looks much more like worksheet cell addresses and formulas than lines of VBA code, showing that worksheet formulas are in fact a programming language of their own if we choose to think of it in those terms. The IF() worksheet function is directly equivalent to the If...Then...Else VBA statement, while the judicious use of circular references and iteration can be equivalent to either the For...Next or Do...Loop structures.
Instead of stating a set of operations that are executed line-by-line, we “program” in this language by making a set of declarations (by typing formulas and values into worksheet cells), in any order we want:
“D3 is the product of D1 and D2”
“D1 has the value 1000”
“D2 has the value 10.99”
To “run” this program, Excel first examines all the declarations and builds a precedence tree to identify which cells depend on the results of which other cells and thereby determine the most efficient order in which the cells must be calculated. The same precedence tree is also used to identify the minimum set of calculations that must be performed whenever the value in a cell is changed. The result is a calculation engine that is vastly more efficient than an equivalent VBA program, and one that should be used whenever complex numerical computations are required in your application.
Microsoft Excel is unique among application development platforms in providing both a procedural (VBA) and a declarative (worksheet functions) programming language. The most efficient Excel application is one that makes appropriate use of both these languages.
It is assumed the reader of this book has a basic understanding of worksheet functions, so Chapter 20 focuses on using advanced worksheet functions (including best-practice suggestions for handling circular references) and Excel’s other data analysis features.
The Excel Object Model
While the other four components of the Excel platform are invaluable in the development of applications, it is probably the rich Excel object model that provides the most compelling reason to base our applications in Excel. Almost everything that can be accomplished through the Excel user interface can also be accomplished programmatically using the objects in the Excel object model. (Accessing the list of number formats and applying a digital signature to a workbook are perhaps the most notable exceptions.)
The vast feature set exposed by these objects makes many complex applications fairly simple to develop. Unlike most other development platforms, there is no need to figure out how to program these features from scratch. Excel provides them ready-made, so all we need to do is determine how to plug them together most effectively. This book does not attempt to explore and document every obscure niche of the Excel object model. Instead, we demonstrate the best way to use the objects we most commonly use in our own application development.
Over the course of this book we cover both the concepts and details of each topic and apply those concepts to a time sheet reporting and analysis application that we will build in stages as we move along. The chapters are therefore arranged approximately in the order in which we would design and develop an Excel application:
- Chapter 2 discusses the different styles of application we might choose to create.
- Chapter 3 identifies some general best practices for working with Excel and VBA. These are followed throughout the book.
- Chapter 4 explains how to design and structure a worksheet for data entry and analysis.
- Chapters 5 and 6 introduce two specific types of application—the add-in and the dictator application, which form the basis of our time sheet reporting and analysis application.
- Chapter 7 introduces the use of class modules in our Excel applications.
- Chapters 8 to 11 discuss topics relevant to building command bar and Ribbon user interfaces as well as designing applications that must run in all current Excel versions using a single code base.
- Chapters 12 to 17 discuss advanced techniques for a range of VBA topics.
- Chapters 18 and 19 cover database development for Excel developers.
- Chapters 20 and 21 explain how to efficiently use Excel’s features to analyze data and present results.
- Chapters 22 to 27 look outside Excel, by explaining how to automate other applications and extend Excel with Visual Basic 6, VB.NET, and C.
- Chapter 28 focuses on how Excel applications can make use of Web Services.
- Chapter 29 completes the development by explaining how to provide help for, secure, and deploy an Excel application.
As mentioned previously, throughout the book, we illustrate the concepts and techniques we introduce by building a time sheet data entry, consolidation, analysis, and reporting application. This consists of a data entry template to be completed by each employee, with the data sent to a central location for consolidation, analysis, and reporting. At the end of most chapters we show an updated working example of the application that incorporates ideas presented in those chapters, so the application grows steadily more complex as the book progresses.
In Chapter 4, we start with a simple data entry workbook and assume that each employee would e-mail the completed file to a manager who would analyze the results manually—a typical situation for a company with just a few employees.
By the end of the book, the data entry workbook will use XML to upload the data to a Web site, where it will be stored in a central database. The reporting application will extract the data from the database, perform various analyses, and present the results as reports in Excel worksheets and charts.
Along the way we rewrite some parts of the application in a number of different ways to show how easy it can be to include other languages and delivery mechanisms in our Excel-based applications. Most chapters also include specific concept examples to illustrate key points that are important to understand but would be too artificial if forced into the architecture of our time sheet application.
Supported Versions of Excel
When we develop an Excel application for a client, that client’s upgrade policy usually determines the version of Excel we must use. Few clients agree to upgrade just so we can develop using the latest version of Excel unless there is a compelling business requirement that can only be satisfied by using features the latest version introduces. At the time of this writing, an extremely unscientific poll (based on postings to the Microsoft support newsgroups) seems to indicate the following approximate usage distribution for each current version of Excel:
There are still a small number of users on Excel 97 and earlier versions, but for various reasons we no longer consider these versions of Excel to be viable development platforms. We therefore decided to use Excel 2000 as our lowest supported version. Many features we discuss, especially when we cover XML and the .NET development platform, are only supported in Excel 2002 or 2003 and higher. Whenever we discuss a feature that is only supported in a later version of Excel we state which version(s) it applies to.
The following text styles are used in this book:
Menu items and dialog text are shown as Tools > Options > Calculation > Manual, where the “>” indicates navigation to a submenu or dialog tab.
Sub SomeCode() ‘Code listings are shown like thisEnd Sub
Code within the text of a paragraph is shown in a fixed-width font like Application.Calculation = xlManual.
Paths on the CD are shown as \Concepts\Ch14 - Interfaces.
New terms introduced or defined appear like this.
Important points or emphasized words appear like this .
On the CD
Most of the code listings shown in the book are also included in example workbooks on the accompanying CD. For clarity, the code shown in the printed examples may use shorter line lengths, reduced indent settings, fewer code comments, and less error handling than the corresponding code in the workbooks. The CD has three main directories, containing the following files:
- \Tools contains a number of tools and utilities developed by the authors that we have found to be invaluable during our application development. The MustHaveTools.htm file contains details about each of these tools and links to other third-party utilities.
- \Concepts has separate subdirectories for each chapter, each one containing example files to support the text of the chapter. For best results, we suggest you have these workbooks open while reading the corresponding chapter.
- \Application has separate subdirectories for the chapters where we have updated our time sheet example application. These chapters end with a Practical Example section that explains the changes made to implement concepts introduced in that chapter.
Help and Support
By far the best place to go for help with any of your Excel development questions, whether related to this book or not, are the Microsoft support newsgroup archives maintained by Google at http://groups.google.com. A quick search of the archives is almost certain to find a question similar to yours, already answered by one of the many professional developers who volunteer their time helping out in the newsgroups, including all the authors of this book. On the rare occasions that the archives fail to answer your question, you’re welcome to ask it directly in the newsgroups by connecting a newsreader (such as Outlook Express) to msnews. microsoft. com and selecting an appropriate newsgroup, such as
http://microsoft.public.excel.misc for general Excel questions
http://microsoft.public.excel.programming for VBA-related questions
http://microsoft.public.excel.worksheet.functions for help with worksheet functions
For assistance with Excel and VB.NET integration issues we recommend the MSDN VSTO Web forum located here:
A number of Web sites provide a great deal of information and free downloadable examples and utilities targeted towards the Excel developer, including
The Professional Excel Development Web Site
As an experiment for the second edition of Professional Excel Development, we are introducing a new Web site to accompany the book at http://www.ProExcelDev.net.
As of this writing the site does not yet exist, so it is difficult to say exactly what you will find there. However, at a minimum you will find the latest corrections, bug fixes, and clarifications related to this book. Our hope is to eventually expand the site to provide more in-depth coverage of popular topics than we were able to fit into our publishing deadline as well as blogs and possibly even interactive technical forums.
We have tried very hard to present the information in this book in a clear and concise manner, explaining both the concepts and details needed to get things working as well as providing working examples of everything we cover. We have tried to provide sufficient information to enable you to apply these techniques in your own applications without getting bogged down in line-by-line explanations of entire code listings.
We’d like to think we’ve been successful in our attempt, but we encourage you to let us know what you think. Constructive criticism is always welcomed, as are suggestions for topics you think we may have overlooked. Please send feedback to the following authors:
Rob Bovey: email@example.com
Dennis Wallentin: firstname.lastname@example.org
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If you were to replace 'Professional' with 'Beginning' in the title, this book probably would have been worth two or three more stars. It would have also been nice if they didn't have 'VBA' and '.NET' in the subtitle. Do not get this book if you are hoping to find any ream meat about using VBA and/or .NET with excel. Most of the material devoded to '.NET' goes over the basics of VB.NET. There is very little about programming the Excel object model, which is sort of the whole point of using a .NET language with excel. The same is true about VBA; general stuff that does not have much to do with Excel. Yes, this might be useful for beginners, but professionals will likely either know the basics of VBA and/or '.NET', or have more complete references for these technologies. A professional isn't going to buy a book about Excel to learn the basics of VBA. The internet, or a basic book on VBA would be much greater choices. A professional will buy a book about Excel to learn about how to use VBA to automate chart creation and manipulation, automate actions in spreadsheets, etc. And by the way, if you buy this book, you will also be spending your hard earned money on a chapter about VB6, which largely repeats what is already gone over in VB.NET and VBA; just one more time in an obsolete version of VB.