Some Links


From the makers of QueryCell, Oak Focus Software, comes TableCell. I signed up as a beta tester recently and they’re looking for more. Thanks to Number Cruncher for posting about this and, thus, reminding me that I wanted to post about it too.

An Add-In for Microsoft Excel that makes it easy to query, monitor and update database tables

VBA Rant

Stochastic Observatons has a nice rant about VBA. On starting programming with VBA:

I liken it to walking in the mud after a long standstill. You’re ankle deep, and you have to wrench your foot out to take that difficult first step. It takes both hands to even budge your foot and as the mud is sucked into the void where your foot once was, it makes a big squelch. With one foot out, you look back and realize that your other foot sunk even deeper. It’s a struggle, but slowly you end up on top rather than within. Though you’re moving forward, every now and then you’ll sink and find yourself stuck.

Good stuff.


A free add-in for chemistry calculations at Chemistry in Excel. Finally I don’t have to memorize the atomic weight of copper.

Excel Blog

CellB4A1 is a new Excel blog. What’s special about this one? Well, it has a cool name and he said I was an “Excel giant”. Flattery will get you everywhere.


Jacqui Murray at Word Dreams uses a spreadsheet to develop story plots.

I create an Excel spreadsheet with columns for Section, Chapter, Purpose, Day, Time, Characters (major and minor), Setting (at the start and finish), character’s success or failure in each section, whether the section includes action or a reaction. Summary, Follow-up. These are the mechanics of a great novel. I know–sounds formulaic. It isn’t. I want to be sure I include all important parts of writing a story people want to read. I write for myself–yes–but I promise you, the writing is better–and more fun–if you follow conventions.

Apparently JK Rowlings uses a manual spreadsheet.

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7 thoughts on “Some Links

  1. I love Excel. Besides using it in my writing, I introduce it to my 2nd graders by ‘drawing’ pictures with the fill bucket and my 3rd graders by showing them the math formulas–cheat sheets, aka, math help. It’s a big hit in my school.

  2. Thanks for posting about TableCell, the aim is to make it a simple robust add-in.

    The more people who give it a try and let me know about problem the quicker I can improve it, so
    I appreciate you mentioning it. The downloads have noticeably increased!


  3. It’s unfortunate that one would give credence to an unjustified rant on beginning VBA programming in Excel. Clearly, if Stochastic Observations had discovered, and used, the macro recorder her/his experience would have been the exact opposite of the blogged about version.

    The fact is the Microsoft Excel dev team made it incredibly easy to develop macros with the macro recorder. That, together with the ability to place event code in worksheet and workbook modules, has led to an incredible amount of trivially generated code proliferating through so many workbooks!

    The truth is that one doesn’t require *any* of the knowledge one would get in a formal Computer Science program to write Excel VBA code. That has been both good and bad. On the one hand it has made life very easy for those who want to “just do this little thing a bit faster.” On the other hand, it has resulted in sloppy code. Sloppy code that is distributed in workbooks leading to any number of reliability, security, and maintenance issues.

    Bottom line. It is trivially easy to start programming with Excel VBA. Unfortunately, that also means that too much of the existing code doesn’t meet even the lowest standard that someone with a formal software development background would expect.

  4. Clearly, if Stochastic Observations had discovered, and used, the macro recorder her/his experience would have been the exact opposite of the blogged about version.

    I disagree. I don’t think this is an ‘unjustified rant’ at all. In my (considerably recent) experience, learning VBA feels a lot like how Stochastic Observations described. Especially when learning how to deal with objects in excel 2007…a fat lot of good the macro recorder will do you then.

    Just look at the junk the macro recorder spits out when you change a querytable connection string. Yuck. Mud.

  5. Excel 2007 is a version I try to avoid at all costs …

    There are some paradoxes here:

    Its easy:
    – VBA itself is a very easy language to start programming in.
    – The Macro recorder makes it easy to discover the Excel Object model (apart from 2007!)

    But its hard:
    – The code the Macro Recorder spits out is close to the worst code any programmer could write if they tried really hard to write bad code.
    – The Excel object model is probably the largest object model of any application, and learning how to use it efficiently in any depth is definitely non-trivial.
    – Writing good efficient code in VBA needs skills that most VBA coders (and many .Net coders) never acquire.

    If you think using the object model from VBA is obscure try using it from VSTO.

  6. Charles,

    What’s so difficult to VSTO as you imply it is? We have been using VB.NET since 2002/2003 and soon we will be celebrating the first 10 years :-)

    Kind regards,

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