RefTreeAnalyser goes 64 bit (and full circle)

Hi all,

Some of you will be aware of my “killer” product called RefTreeAnalyser.
It is a tool which makes it easier to navigate the precedents and dependents of a cell.

Let me tell you the tale of how this tool has gone full circle.

The original tool was written in VBA. I decided I wanted more protection of my intellectual property so I ported the code to a VB6 dll. All was fine.

Along came Excel 2010 64 bit and the trouble started. First I thought, hey, lets port this thing to a .NET solution. In between paid work (which -luckily- is rare) I started re-writing the code so VB.NET would stop complaining. Quite some time passed. Think years rather than months. Not very many people have 64 bit Excel you know. But it more or less worked. On my system.

Then Excel 2013 arrived, with a new “App” model built on Javascript. I decided a further investment in learning all the intricacies of deploying .NET Office add-ins was a waste of my time. Apps are the next bee’s knees for Office.

So now what? I know VBA. I decided to port the tool back to VBA. But 64 bit office prevents me from using the treeview control from the common controls library. Step 1 involved building an all-VBA treeview. Thank you Peter Thornton, couldn’t have done it without you :-)

Once that treeview was reliable enough, porting the RefTreeAnalyser back from VB6 to VBA was relatively straightforward. And we’re full circle.

I’m looking for beta tester. Any takers?

If so, send me an email (address at the bottom of each page of my website)


Jan Karel Pieterse

7 thoughts on “RefTreeAnalyser goes 64 bit (and full circle)

  1. It speaks volumes as to how poor ms have been at moving office dev forward, that a skilled programmer needs to write a control to get their app to work, crazy but true. Have had similar thoughts myself Jan Karel.

    Again well done to both of you with the tree control, truly great bit of work.

    Makes you wonder what’s going on with office though….

  2. So why didn’t you go with .NET? That’s my preferred development platform, tough to figure out at first, but much easier in the end. (I use a combination of Net Office for COM add-ins and XL-DNA for dictator applications).

    I only have 32-bit installed – did you want testers for 32-bit?

  3. Ross,

    You need to be aware of that:

    # Microsoft view the Office suite as consumer product. per se

    # Any Office development should be made with development tools. First attempt was with VSTO which after nearly 10 years never managed to become any big hit. The next attempt is with Office Apps. This tool with have more success, mainly because Office365 will increase its user base in combination with an increasing progress for Excel Services via SharePoint.

    As long as VBA is part of the Office suite there will be a resistance among Excel developers to pick up any other tools. I can sometime view VBA as the major obstacle for new Office developing tools.

    In my opinion; Microsoft actually care about Office development and will continue to do it. They do it by developing a new concept; Office Apps.

    Kind regards,

  4. Ross
    MS use to view Office as a serious Developement platform upto 2002 (XP). We use to have a “Developer Edition” in Office XP, with which you could create COM Add-ins right from within Excel

    Since 2003 the “Developemnt” story has gone one way – DOWN.

    The only real reason why Excel still exists is because of VBA. The best chance for MS to improve Office Development is to invest more time upgrading it VBA IDE and bring back the “Developer Edition”

  5. sam,

    # We actually created classic COM add-ins with VB6 and not with Excel.

    # In 2003 Microsoft released VSTO which explicit targets the Office suite.

    # Today Microsoft offer VSTO add-ins for the Office suite.

    # Today Microsoft offer Office Apps targeting both the desktop suite and the Office365 suite.

    # Today Microsoft offer Excel Services on the SharePoint platform.

    # Today Microsoft offer three powerful add-ins for Self-Service BI with Excel; PowerPivot, PowerView and Data Explorer.

    # Today Excel is an excellent tool for BI and for every new version it gets much better.

    # Today Microsoft still offer VBA for all die-hard VBA coders.

    Now I rest my case ;-)

    Kind regards,

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