Book review – Excel 2003 Programming, A Developer’s Notebook

If you believe the hype from Microsoft about Office 2003, you’ll want to store your data in SharePoint lists rather than Excel workbooks, transfer that data between Excel and SharePoint using XML and SharePoint Web Services, use InfoPath for your data-entry forms and control the whole lot using VB.NET! This book, by Jeff Webb, does a great job explaining – and demonstrating – how all these components can fit together. Jeff uses a very “hand’s-on” style, so you’ll learn most by working through his examples, rather than reading the book cover-to-cover. The examples give a good introduction to the various components, probably just sufficient enough to get you started on your own projects. At only 275 pages, there’s neither room for a step-by-step approach, nor for detailed explanations of what’s happening behind the scenes or the gotcha’s you’re likely to encounter. In that respect, the book reads a lot like a series of MSDN articles. I think he’s just about hit the sweet spot between too much and too little information, though that will obviously depend on what you like to read. Personally, I like a book to be a reference that I can come back to, as much as a set of instructions to get me started. So for me, this was a very good book to read and work through, giving me a good appreciation of what Excel, SharePoint, InfoPath and VB.Net can do together. Once the labs are done, though, there’s little to come back to, so it doesn’t earn permanent shelf space. But I’ll be keeping my copy in storage, in case I’ve forgotten it all by the time I meet a client interested in using Excel 2003 and SharePoint like this.


Stephen Bullen

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3 thoughts on “Book review – Excel 2003 Programming, A Developer’s Notebook

  1. Well Stephen, you beat me to it.

    I was just done writing down my review and wanted to post it here when I saw yours.

    I seem to have come to a similar conclusion:

    This Book by Jeff Webb is one that only describes functionality that was introduced with Excel 2003.
    The book discusses automating (from the Excel viewpoint) Infopath, XML maps and lists, Web services, .NET, IRM and security and Sharepoint.

    Proís of this book:
    The method used in the book is one that really attracts me: no-nonsense, to the point and ample code samples that nicely show how things are done. The book is an easy read.

    In my opinion the subjects are all treated with insufficient depth. After every chapter I was left wondering what else there was to the subject.
    With the last chapter I wondered why it was in the book in the first place, because it was almost entirely dedicated to Infopath and hardly any relation to Excel was made clear.


    If you want to get acquainted with Excel 2003ís new functionality and how to put it to use from VBA, this book is a very good introduction. If you need to get in-depth information about the subjects above, get a dedicated book on any of the subjects mentioned.


    Jan Karel Pieterse

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