I’ve Got My Copy

Professional Excel Development, the long-awaited book by Bullen, Bovey and Green, arrived at my house yesterday. That makes two, count ’em, two books in which my name appears. Watch out Rupert Murdoch, I’m well on my way to dominating all media.

I did some technical reviewing for this book, thus the mention. I didn’t review all the chapters, so I will hold my detailed review of the book until I read the ones that are new to me. What I have read is absolutely amazing. If you have ever, or plan to ever, write a macro with more than 50 lines, you should own this book. As the title implies, the book will show you how to make professional applications in Excel. It is full of useful information for the intermediate level programmer. Don’t think this book covers just the advanced stuff. The real gems in the books, in my opinion, are applicable to all VBA – naming conventions, error handling, and the list goes on.

On the other hand, if you don’t write macros or the most complex macro you write assigns a hot key to the Paste Special operation, don’t bother with this book. If you want to start using VBA, start with a different book (like Walkenbach’s Power Programming) and move up to this when you’re ready – it won’t take as long as you might think.

Doing a technical review for this book was quite a bit different than the one I did for Excel VBA Programming for Dummies. In the latter, there were only a few topics with which I wasn’t 100% comfortable in my knowledge. In this book, there were a only few with which I was. It wasn’t just a matter of opening Excel and testing the code that was written there. I had to load software, like Visual Studio Tools for Office, to test some of the code. I had to learn stuff, like how to create an ActiveX DLL, to test some of the code.

It’s pretty sad when the technical reviewer has to learn the material before he reviews it, but I think it gave me an interesting perspective. If I couldn’t learn the material by reading the text, then I had a pretty legitimate review comment. It’s one thing, I think, for an expert on the subject to assert that the text is technically accurate. It’s another to have a neophyte look a the material and say “It may be accurate, but I don’t get it.” Both are beneficial in there own way. I hope my wide-eyed innocence was helpful in that regard.

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15 thoughts on “I’ve Got My Copy

  1. Hi Ross

    I have (14 of them )! Apparently, it may take up to a month for the books to arrive in the UK stores (and Amazon.co.uk) – I presume they’re being shipped rather than flown.


    Stephen Bullen

  2. Good review Dick. I agree wholeheartedly. I had similar experiences to yours, having to do some studying to grasp the material.

    The book is very well written and I found each chapter I reviewed (I did about half of them) very easy to follow, despite the top level expertise exhibited in the book.

    Of course you do need to have VBA knowledge before you start reading this book. But if you have that, it is a must-have.

  3. Just rescued mine from a snowdrift. Fortunately the UPS guy had put the box into a plastic bag before tossing it out.

    What strengthens this book is that it is a toolkit and user manual that helps you build things. In newsgroups you often see “Build a COM add-in”. Ever read on MSDN how to build a COM add-in? Clear as mud. But I built one while reviewing this book.

  4. Pre-ordered a copy on Amazon.com . . . now I’m getting impatient waiting for it to arrive! Have not received the email that it has shipped yet.

  5. “Itís pretty sad when the technical reviewer has to learn the material before he reviews it.”

    Yes, it’s true and I’m pleased that I can do my own technical review of the book ;)

    It shows also that Excel nowadays is not only a personal tool but also part of a larger system within corporates and therefore require a larger toolbox to solve the issues.

    There are people who professional, as independed consultants, work with Excel and today we are forced to use other tools as well, like VB 6.0/VB.NET/VSTO, which the book actually show.

    Kind regards,

  6. “If you want to start using VBA, start with a different book”

    Alternatively, buy code at auction. An advert in the left pane of dicks-blog for a famous online auction site is offering ‘New and Used Excel Vba’. Could get a bargain.



  7. I got my copy Satursday – and I could not put it down. A lot is above my head, but there are many useful items, especially the information on class modules / OOP . Thanks!

  8. For those awaiting the book from Amazon.co.uk, it looks as though they’ve starting shipping copies (at last!).

    Please let us know what you think about the book, either by emailing us directly, or (preferably) giving us a 5-star review on Amazon ;-)


    Stephen Bullen

  9. I tried to download the excel97sdk.exe ( I would like to try creating an xll) – and the site listed no longer exists! Is there any other place where I could get the file? Searching the microsoft download center yielded nothing.


  10. Hi Michael,

    You can still download the Excel 97 SDK files from the following links:



    The first is the main SDK, the second is an updated framework with some bug fixes. Sadly it seems that the SDK documentation has been removed from MSDN. Luckily, there’s a brand new book out that covers XLLs exclusively. You can check it out here:


    It’s a much better reference to creating XLLs than the Excel 97 SDK ever was.

  11. I’m happily working through the book, and as a non-prgrammer am particularly grateful for the recommendations on best practice. Not sure if this is the forum for it, but I have a general question on best practice I’d like to pose to folks: in listing 4-1 (p97), a complex formula using several nested IFs has been ‘outlined’ using Alt-Enter and spaces to make it look a bit like javascript. I’m sure the authors weren’t suggesting that formulas be entered this way, but I’m wondering: why not? Any thoughts? Would this affect performance? Any pitfalls you can foresee?



  12. Hi Graham

    You can indeed write formulas exactly like that, and it can very much help the readability of a complex formula. The only pitfalls are (a) the extra time it takes to write them, (b) remembering/having to use the same structure when modifying it and (c) the extra characters taken up with the formatting might make you hit the maximum formula length in a very complex formula. I don’t know of any performance issues. You never know, some future version of Excel might include the ability to display any formula in a similar ‘outline’ view.


    Stephen Bullen

Posting code? Use <pre> tags for VBA and <code> tags for inline.

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