Adding Stuff to the Top of a Dictionary

I wrote a KwikOpen addin that I use about a million times a day. I ran into a little nagging problem. When I Save As’d a file from the addin, it never showed up on the recently opened list. I finally decided to track down the bug. A while back, I switched my custom class storage method from Collection to Dictionary. I don’t remember why, but I’m sure it was a fine reason. I ended up with this Add method

I have this optional argument, bToTop, so I can add it to the front of the list. But as you can see from the commented code at the bottom, that argument is basically ignored. Dictionaries don’t allow you to insert values into specific locations and that code no longer works.

So why a bug? Because I only store the most recent 2,000 files, and I’m at that limit, any Save As’d file would become 2,001 and not written to disk. When I’d go to open a file, it would read in from the file again and, of course, that recently saved file was not there.

Surely there’s a quick and easy method for pushing something to the top. Nope. All I could find was rewriting the whole Dictionary.

In that code, I create a temporary Dictionary, dcTemp, put my Save As’d file in first, then fill in the rest, finally replacing the old Dictionary with the temporary one. That’s not exactly elegant, but it gets the job done. I tested it and found that the recently saved file was not on the top of the list. It was near the top, but I inserted it first, it should be at the top. Then I remembered that I read in Excel’s MRU before I read in my file. That means there are 50 files ahead of the one I just saved. No biggie, but it gave me an idea.

Instead of recreating the Dictionary, why don’t I just add it to the MRU? There are some websites about adding entries to the registry but that won’t work. Excel reads the registry when it opens and I wasn’t about to close and reopen the app. Another way to add a file to the MRU are to specify the arguments in the Open and SaveAs methods. I am saving a file. Now my Add method looks like this

The heavy lifting is done when I save the file

That lone True out there is the AddToMru argument. By getting rid of the .Execute method and doing the SaveAs myself, I also got rid of a problem where overwriting an existing file caused two warning prompts. Now there’s no need for me to add it to my list (the commented out code at the bottom) because Excel adds it to its list and that’s what I read first.

Storing Stuff in VBA Lists

You no doubt recall when snb wrote about Scripting.Dictionaires. Well, there’s more.

I use Collection objects in my custom class modules almost exclusively. It’s the only object, that I know of, that I can enumerate using For Each.

Outside of custom class modules, I use Dictionary objects. I used to avoid them because they weren’t built in to the language. I was always afraid of some dependency problem. But I’ve never seen one in all my years, so I’m over that now. The advantage of the Exists property and the ability to produce an array of keys or items is awesome. it’s probably more awesome than For Each, but I just haven’t made that leap yet.

And I never use ArrayLists because I never remember them. That’s not totally true. When I’m writing a procedure with a Dictionary and I need to sort, I kick myself for not using an ArrayList.

Here’s some features of Collections, Dictionaries, and ArrayLists.

Feature Collection Dictionary ArrayList
New Enum in class Yes No No
Exists No .Exists .Contains
Key Value paradigm Yes Yes No
Unique keys Yes Yes NA
Key data types String Any NA
Get keys No Yes NA
Auto create items No Yes No
Insert anywhere .Add(,,before,after) No .Insert
Output to array No .Keys or .Items .ToArray

There are other differences. Those are just the ones that are important to me. If there’s a difference that’s important to you, leave a comment. You can read everything you ever wanted to know about these objects at one of the pages below:


Deleting Pivot Table Drilldown Sheets

I tried to make drilling into pivot tables better once upon a time. I failed. Earlier this week, I read Debra’s blog post about showing details and deleting the sheets later. It got me thinking.

The problem I have is that her solution (and many others) rely on the Before_DoubleClick event. As you might imagine, I don’t double click to show pivot table details. I press the context menu key and choose Show Details from the menu. I need a different event or to capture that context menu item. I don’t think there’s any event that will allow me to identify new sheets only when they come from showing details of a pivot table. It doesn’t matter. The better answer is create my own shortcut.

In my Auto_Open and Auto_Close procedures in my PMW:

That’s Ctrl+Shift+D for the uninitiated. That will now run PTDrillDown

Lot’s of

in there. That’s the sign of really tight code, you know. This determines if the ActiveCell is in a pivot table by trying to set a PivotTable variable. If it’s in a pivot table, it next checks to see if it’s in the body (as opposed to row or column headers or filters). If it’s in the body, the code shows the detail, deletes any sheet with my special name, and names the resulting sheet with my special name. The special name lives in my MGlobals module.

And for the coup de grace, I have a class module that defines an Application variable WithEvents. I added this event procedure to it.

Whenever I switch off of the details sheet, it goes away. Now that’s keeping things tidy.

KwikOpen Update

A year and a half ago, I decided that I was going to make a change to my KwikOpen add-in to get rid of recent files that no longer exist. Well, I finally got it done. No, it didn’t take that long to implement. The performance of the add-in has been fine so there wasn’t a pressing need. The other day, the addin seemed a little less peppy than usual and I thought it was time for a look.

I had 2,368 files in my MRU and 465 of them are dead links. That’s about 20% and it’s similar to the proportion I saw back in February 2015. Of the three options I listed at the bottom of my previous post, I chose none of them. Instead, I weeded out some files as I wrote them back out to disk.

The file names are written to the file with the most recent at the top – sort of. Because I’m using the built-in MRU as well as my own, it’s not exactly that way, but it’s close enough for government work. Instead of time stamping the entries, I decided to dump any nonexistent files that were near the bottom of the list. If a file is in the top 90% of the list, it stays regardless of whether it exists. If it’s in the bottom 10%, it only stays if it’s still where it was.

Iteration Total Files Orphaned Files
Beg. 2,368 465
1 2,250 345
2 2,226 321
3 2,225 320

Looking at the last 100 or so files, they’re mostly from 2014. I could cap this at 2,000 and probably not notice.

Unique Entries in Userform Dependent Listboxes

Deepthi commented

…could you please help me tweak the code so that I can make multiple selections in listbox 1 in such a way that the values selected in list box two has all the values applicable for the selections made (listbox) but removes all duplicates?

First, a word about that post. I have used the relationship listbox template exactly zero times. I simply prefer to build my classes from scratch with names that reflect the business objects they represent. But I did reuse the userform and I didn’t change the control names from Parent/Child to Class/Student. I’m conflicted about that, but I’ll get over it.

Let’s say we have some classes and students. A class can have many students and a student can have many classes.

When you select a class, the userform lists the students. If you select more than one class, the userform lists all the student from the selected classes, but each student is listed only once.

Andrew and Payton are only listed once.

There are some significant changes to the code, not the least of which is removing the grandchildren. Also instead of tracking ActiveParent (singular), I now track ActiveClasses (plural) because my top listbox is now multiselect. When my Parent listbox changes, I have to see all the classes that are selected.

To get a unique student list, I use a dictionary object. My favorite thing about dictionaries is returning a zero-based array from the Keys or Items properties.

You can check out the rest of the code in the downloadable file.

You can download

Cleaning Up My JoinRange Arguments

I’m trying to make my JoinRange function better and I’m failing miserably. A few years ago I added a “macro” argument because I was making so many HTML and Trac tables. I don’t use Trac anymore and I almost never make HTML tables (because I blog so infrequently, I guess). I got rid of that argument. The reason I join ranges most often is to create a big

clause in SQL. Let’s say I have this list of customer IDs and I want to make an



I’d use JoinRange like

That’s a freakin’ mess. The second argument is the now-defunct macro argument and is blank. The rest of the arguments are

3rd (delimeter): single quote, comma, single quote
4th (beginning): open paren, single quote
5th (ending): single quote, close paren

and I’d get

which I could paste into my SQL statement and roll. I hate typing those arguments. Worse, I hate reading those arguments. It’s pretty hard to read in this blog, but it’s worse in Excel’s formula bar. I thought if I could get rid of the single quotes, it would be cleaner. I rewrote the code to add a Quote argument that would wrap every entry in whatever quotes I supplied.

Now, my formula looks like this:

I think we can all agree that this is no better than what I had before. I thought the quotes were the problem, but it’s also that I use a comma as the delimiter and it’s the thing that separates the arguments. If I change it to pipe delimited…

Nope. It’s still a headache to read. Based on the number of comments to this post, I’m pretty sure none of you are using predefined names in your book.xlt file. But I do. And If I’m using a workbook that I created, I could use

That’s definitely more readable to me. I guess I need a macro to add those names to any books automatically so I can use them.

I’m not crazy. I swear this all makes sense in my head. Plus, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably crazy too.

Anagrams and Palindromes

More Java homework:

First, I remove all the spaces. Then I make sure the two words are the same length. Then I loop through all the letters in the first word, find them in the second word, and replace them with a plus sign. If the second word is all plus signs at the end, then it’s an anagram. My first thought was to put the letters in an array and sort them, but that’s too much looping.

Nothing too fancy here. Again, I remove all the spaces. Then I compare the first letter to the last letter, the second letter to the penultimate letter, and so on. If there’s every not a match, set the return value to False and quit looking.