Is VBA Recovering?

I previously mentioned that VBA is dying. At least one of my arguments was that MS couldn’t be bothered to port it to the new MAC architecture. Now c-net says:

Finally, the company announced that, for the next full release of Office for Mac, it is bringing back support for Visual Basic scripts. That feature was in Office 2004 but was pulled in the current version as Microsoft worked to add support for Intel processors and new file formats.

That changes things, I think.

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17 thoughts on “Is VBA Recovering?

  1. They couldn’t include support for VB for lack of support for Intel processors and new file formats? I don’t know much about how that is supposed to work, but it seems kind of thin.

    It sounds more like, “Wow, we never thought we’d get that much backlash from Mac users. I guess we screwed up that time.”

  2. “When we came to the realization in 2006 that there was no way for us to keep VB in the product and still ship Office 2008 on any semblance of the schedule we wanted, we announced its removal, but kept looking at how to bring it back into the suite even before we shipped.”

    Let’s see how many analogies I can come up with that shows how utterly stupid this sounds:

    Brittanica: We’ll never meet the encyclopedia publish data. Cut out the “S”s and we’ll bring them back next edition.

    Toyota: The 2009 Camrys are going to be late because we can’t fit the A/C compressor under the hood. Ship it without air conditioning and we’ll bring that back in 2010.

    I’m glad I’m not a MAC MVP. In a couple of years they’re going to be in the newsgroups saying”Just use this macro – unless you have 2008?

  3. “we announced its removal, but kept looking at how to bring it back into the suite even before we shipped.”

    This has got to be the worst “tap dance” / “spin” in the history of PR. They sure sounded serious about taking VB out of MAC 2008 when they announced it.

    Let me take a shot at translating this.

    “we announced its removal, at which point we were put through the nut-roller by every mac office user we have logged in our usability testing crap. Before heads started rolling, we came up with a strategy to add that shit back in Tout de suite.”

  4. Anyone else think that the 2012 release date makes this too little, too late? I think a lot of Mac VBA will have been ported to ActionScript or other stable script by then.

  5. I think the difference between the VB6 shafting and the VBA issue is that VB6 was always an environment in which the output was almost always destined to be a stand alone distributable executable. Sure the target system needed to have the VBRUN dlls, but that’s it. I don’t like it, but I can understand the rationale behind expecting those users to switch to the .net platform. As much havoc as it may be to the developer, the end user is not going to know the difference.

    VBA, on the other hand, can’t be so easily replaced with VSTO. A software house built add-in such as the kind any good enterprise financial app offers can be ported, of course. But how many of us are willing to invest the time to port over what is essentially a quick-and-dirty macro? If I whip something together for a coworker or client, it is easy enough to explain to them that they just need to enable macros and click on the button on the worksheet. I’m not going to be able to convince them of much more than that, nor do I have the time to invest into it.

    Does anyone remember that scripting thing that was in Office 2003 that you’d get to by hitting Alt-Shift-F11? I ignored that thing for 4 years and now it is gone. I expect much the same for VSTO.

  6. The issue isn’t the runtimes, because those are included in XP and Vista. AISI, the issue was the lack of compatibility between VB6 and VB.Net, and the lack of a reasonable upgrade path. The end user is certainly going to feel the pain, if that end user has commissioned utilities (not unlike the add-ins you cite) and wants them upgraded.

  7. I’ve never been able to believe that VB was the most wonderful programming language ever conceived. Was it the VB6 IDE that was so special, or VB’s particular syntax for optional arguments and named arguments in any order the programmer feels like?

    Anyway it’s good VBA is going to be back in Mac versions of Office. Maybe there were some colleges and universities with considerable numbers of Macs that may have threatened to replace Excel with OpenOffice Calc in their courses. Maybe they or organizations which use both Macs and PCs let Microsoft know that, no, they had no intention of trying to run Windows versions of Office via emulation.

    Maybe Microsoft is admitting they screwed up, but it’s also the case people who bought Office 2008 will have to buy an upgrade to get a version with VBA.

  8. Charles OpenOffice.org has the best cross platform scripting compatibility story at the moment. And as they further improve their VBA support things can only get better.

    I’ve done a decent bit of XLM recently, but its not what I would consider a future proof technology. Unlike VBA which seemingly has a rosy future.

  9. I have run this question over and over in my mind and can think of no way to ask it without sounding sarcastic; which is not my intention. But Harald, who is Schwieb and what makes him important?

  10. Schwieb is inside the walls of the great beast. He also blogs consistently. He can be accused of singing the company song, but he seems to be more forthright than most MS bloggers. I don’t know if that makes him important, but it makes me want to read what he writes (with proper BS filters on).

  11. The most interesting comment for me in Schwieb’s blog is:

    “for a while now I and several others have been working with a group of people who know a heck of a lot about the internals of VB”

    I had got the impression from MSoft’s inability to fix VBE/VBA bugs that they did not have anyone left with any real knowledge of VB Internals, and the rumour-mill thought that VBA maintenance had been outsourced.

    Schwieb’s comment (and Bill Gates’s recent remarks) leaves me hoping that some knowledgeable resource has been assigned to VBE/VBA for Office 14.

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