Opening the Addin Dialog like a Pro

Back in the old days when Excel had menus and toolbars, a guy could use Alt+t+i to open the Addins dialog (Tools – Addins). But that would only work if there was an open workbook. No open workbook, no dialog. Now in the days of the Ribbon, the shortcut is Alt+f+t a a Alt+g (File – Options – Addins – Go). You don’t need to have a workbook open, which is nice, but there is a bit of delay between the two “a’s” in the keyboard sequence.

MS did a wonderful thing when they made the old 2003 menu navigation still work in later versions. Even though there’s no longer a Tools menu, you can still use Alt+t+i to open the dialog. Unfortunately you still need to have a workbook open for it to work. I can’t imagine why that is, but it is.

Well, it’s VBA to the rescue. You can show most any dialog with Applicaiton.Dialogs().Show. But showing the Addins dialog returns an error if there is not an active workbook, just like with the old menus. It’s trivial enough to fix, to wit:

Sub ShowAddinDialog()

Dim wb As Workbook

'Dialog won’t show if there’s no workbook showing
If ActiveWorkbook Is Nothing Then
Set wb = Workbooks.Add
End If

'Show addin dialog
Application.Dialogs(xlDialogAddinManager).Show

'Close wb if it was created
On Error Resume Next
wb.Close False

End Sub

That creates a new workbook if needed, then shows the dialog. It keeps track of whether it created a workbook and, if so, closes it without saving. Hardly worth your time to read this post, you say? You already knew about this, you say? Here’s the real magic. Those old 2003 commandbars still lurk behind the scenes in Excel. If you create new ones, they show up on the Add-ins tab. But you can modify the existing one too. I put this little gem in the Auto_Open macro in the same workbook as my ShowAddinDialog procedure.

With Application.CommandBars(1).Controls("Tools").Controls.Add(msoControlButton, , , 1)
.Caption = "&I"
.OnAction = "ShowAddinDialog"
End With

And then to clean it up in Auto_Close.

On Error Resume Next
Application.CommandBars(1).Controls("Tools").Controls("I").Delete

Commandbars(1) is the menu and Controls(“Tools”) is the Tools menu. I add a new control to position 1 on that Tools menu. I don’t need a fancy caption because I can’t see it anyway. I just need a caption with I as the hotkey. Whichever letter follows the ampersand (&) is the hotkey. The built-in addins menu item has a caption of Add-&Ins... making I the hotkey for it. But mine is higher up, so it wins.

In the previous post I referenced above, I add this macro to the QAT. But the muscle memory of Alt+t+i dies hard. Rather than retrain myself like a normal person, I’m embracing my quirks. I can now use Alt+t+i and get the desired results.

TM Goal Seek

TM Goal Seek enhances the existing user interface to Excel’s Goal Seek feature. The built in Goal Seek is a simple optimization tool that suffices for a large number of scenarios. The UI, unfortunately, is extremely unwieldy and unfriendly. TM Goal Seek is a simple add-in that is easier to use than the default dialog box because of three critical benefits:

  1. The target value can be a number or a reference to a cell that contains a number,
  2. The add-in retains values previously entered in the dialog box, and
  3. One can interact with the worksheet even with the dialog box open.

The motivation to develop the add-in came from work I was doing for a client that involved risk analysis on multiple investment scenarios of financial derivative trades. The default Goal Seek interface took way too long.

The current version of the add-in will expire on May 1, 2013.

For more see http://www.tushar-mehta.com/excel/software/goal_seek/index.htm

Tushar Mehta

Do consumers prefer the ease of an EXE installer or the transparency of a ZIP file?

For all the various add-ins available from my website, I have supported two downloadable formats, an EXE and a ZIP file. The EXE is easier to install and includes an uninstall capability. The ZIP hopefully provides the consumer greater transparency and control over what is on their computer.

In addition to the software downloadable from my website, I also develop custom solutions through my consulting work. Most of my projects are sponsored by senior executives in companies or otherwise people with substantial decision making authority. It turns out that even a Managing Director or an Executive Vice President is subject to the automated IT protocols in effect in their organization (e.g., Group Policy).

Small and midsize companies are more tolerant of the kinds of files their employees can download. So, it is my larger clients who prefer — actually, require — a solution acceptable to their respective corporate IT filters. That means no EXE and no MSI, not even inside a ZIP file.

That has been a major stumbling block in my migration to .Net. For all the advantage of the platform, providing an add-in inside a ZIP file is not one of them.

I wondered if that inability (or reluctance) to download an EXE extended to those who download software from my website. Using Google Analytics I decided to check their download preference/requirement. Would the data indicate a strong preference for EXE over ZIP or the other way around? Turns out the result is decidedly mixed! As the table below shows, with the exception of TM Plot and TM TOCCreator, the download choice is about 50-50!

The table below is a PivotTable based on Google Analytics data for my website. For each add-in the table lists the EXE and the ZIP download percentages together with a sparkline for the two formats.

Power Utility Pak Add-in for the Mac

Hi all

I like to share the release of this new Mac Excel add-in with you all. After many days of hard work I have upload the first Mac version of the very popular Excel for Windows Add-in “Power Utility Pak” from John Walkenbach on my site.

Power Utility Pak for the Mac, Add-in Tools for Excel 2011

You can also use this link from John’s site to go to the Add-in

The Spreadsheet Page – PUP/Mac Home

As a bonus I also add my mail add-in to the collection. Please give feedback good or bad so I can make this product error-free and accurate.

Use the mail address that you find in the PUP About option in the menu if you want to report bugs or want to give feedback.

Thanks