A Better AutoFilter

Jeff recently wrote about how you can type your filter criterion in a Pivot Table’s page field and it will filter it automagically. That’s awesome. I want the same thing when I filter Tables, so I started doing some experiments. To filter a table, you select the header, press Alt+{DOWN}, e to get to the search box, and type the search term.

Press Enter

I want to type ‘Colorado’ right in the header and have it filter.


How did I accomplish that magic? First I created a class module call CApp. It will be used to house my application level events. Up in the declarations section of CApp, I have this

Private WithEvents mclsApp As Application
Private msOldValue As String

Public Property Let OldValue(ByVal sOldValue As String): msOldValue = sOldValue: End Property
Public Property Get OldValue() As String: OldValue = msOldValue: End Property
Public Property Set App(ByVal clsApp As Application): Set mclsApp = clsApp: End Property
Public Property Get App() As Application: Set App = mclsApp: End Property

The mclsApp variable is declared WithEvents so that VBA exposes all the events of the Application object to me in this module. I’ll be using two of those events, SelectionChange and Change, to determine when to filter. The OldValue variable will hold the header that I’m overtyping so I can put it back. For instance, when I replace State (the column heading) with Colorado (the search term), I need to put the heading back to State.

To capture that old header value, I use the SheetSelectionChange event. Whenever the selection changes, this procedure is run.

Private Sub mclsApp_SheetSelectionChange(ByVal Sh As Object, ByVal Target As Range)

Dim rLoHeader As Range

'See if the target is in the header of a listobject
On Error Resume Next
Set rLoHeader = Intersect(Target, Target.ListObject.HeaderRowRange)
On Error GoTo 0

'If it's in a header, save the header's column heading
If Not rLoHeader Is Nothing Then
Me.OldValue = Target.Value
'Otherwise, clear the old value
Me.OldValue = vbNullString
End If

End Sub

If I’ve select a cell that’s in the header of a ListObject (that’s what VBA calls a Table), then save the value. This is just some test code. It needs far more error proofing, such as making sure only one cell is selected.

Next I use the SheetChange event to monitor if I type a new value in that header. First I disable events so that when I put the old header value back, it doesn’t think I’m trying to filter again.

Private Sub mclsApp_SheetChange(ByVal Sh As Object, ByVal Target As Range)

Dim sFilter As String

Application.EnableEvents = False

If Len(Me.OldValue) > 0 Then
'Save the search term for later filtering
sFilter = Target.Value
'Change the header value back
Target.Value = Me.OldValue
'This shouldn't be necessary, but read on
Me.OldValue = vbNullString

'Filter based on the value typed
Target.ListObject.Range.AutoFilter Target.ListObject.ListColumns(Target.Value).Index, sFilter

End If

Application.EnableEvents = True

End Sub

I really don’t mind using the built-in autofilter string of keystrokes when I’m filtering on a string or a number. But dates? That’s another story. I hate autofiltering on dates. If I want to filter the above list on June 22nd, the keystrokes are: Alt+{DOWN}, e, {TAB}{TAB}, {SPACE} to uncheck Select All, {DOWN}{DOWN}{RIGHT} to expand June, 2 2 {SPACE} to get to the second entry that starts with a ‘2’ and check it, {ENTER}.

Stupid. I should be able to get to the search box and type 6/22 and have it filter. But it doesn’t. I though this method would make filtering on dates much better. And I was right.

Did you happen to see the comment in the above code about a particular line not being necessary? I didn’t want to remove OldValue in the SheetChange event because that’s the job of the SheetSelectionChange event. I shouldn’t need to do it. I didn’t need to do it for filtering on strings, but without it, I can’t filter on numbers or dates. For some reason that I couldn’t figure out, the SheetChange event was being called twice. The first time it would filter on ‘6/22/2014’ as expected. Then it would run again (even though I clearly have turned off events) and would filter on ‘Date’ (the column header), which, of course, it can’t find in a column of actual dates.

I even tried to make my own event enabler/disabler, but it didn’t matter. Once I set OldValue to vbNullString, filtering on numbers and dates started working. The event procedure still gets called twice, but it doesn’t try to filter because OldValue isn’t there anymore.

That leaves a potential problem. If I type, say, “Montana” in B1 and enter using Ctrl+Enter rather than just Enter, the selection doesn’t change and OldValue is blank. Now, before selecting any other cells, if I type ‘Colorado’, nothing happens. That’s not a big problem for me because I have my options set to go down on enter and wouldn’t really use Ctrl+Enter in that case. But that doesn’t mean I like it. I don’t.

This hasn’t made it into my PMW yet, but I’d like to see where it can go.

You can download BetterAutoFilter.zip

The Error Class Revisited

In the comments to Error Handling Via an Error Class, Peter found that the problem with this method is the absence of the Stop and Resume in the error handler than let you debug at the line that caused the error. Yeah, that stinks. Then Jase got me thinking that I just wouldn’t create the class in debug mode. Well, that wasn’t quite right. What needed to happen was that the error handler should not be set in debug mode. Here’s a rewrite of the entry point procedure.

Sub EntryPoint()

Dim clsError As CError

gbDebugMode = False

If Not gbDebugMode Then On Error GoTo ErrHandler

Set clsError = New CError: clsError.SetLoc "Module1", "EntryPoint"


Exit Sub

Set clsError = Nothing
MsgBox Err.Description
Resume ErrExit

End Sub

When gbDebugMode is False, the error handler is set and it works as described in the original post. That is, the user gets a message box and the code exits gracefully. When gbDebugMode is True, the error handler is not set. It’s like you don’t have an error handler at all – because you don’t. When in debug mode, you get kicked to the line that caused the error.

Is that that last hurdle?

Error Handling via an Error Class

A while ago I read an answer on stackoverflow about error handling. I can’t seem to find that question now, so you’ll have to take my word for it. The question was asking about error handling best practices in VBA and I found one of the answers interesting. The answerer said that you could use the Terminate event of a custom class module as your error logger. I had never thought of that.

I’ve been using the Professional Excel Development error handling method with great success for many years. This method controls the error as it moves back up the call stack, either by returning a Boolean to the calling procedure or by rethrowing the error. Without error handling, VBA sends the error back up the call stack automatically until it is handled. So, for instance, if you only handled errors in your entry point procedures, you would still have an error handler. You just wouldn’t have the information about the stack that would be critical to finding out where the error occurred.

The class method of error handling takes advantage of the built-in ability of VBA to pull an error back up the stack. It uses the fact that local variables go out of scope when the procedure is complete, such as when an unhandled error occurs and the cursor is sent to the calling procedure. If you had a local variable pointing to a class, that class’ Terminate event would fire when an unhandled error occurred.

Borrowing the setup from PED2, let’s see how this would work.

Sub EntryPoint()

Dim clsError As CError

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

Set clsError = New CError: clsError.SetLoc "Module1", "EntryPoint"

Exit Sub

If gbDebugMode Then
Stop: Resume
Set clsError = Nothing
MsgBox Err.Description
Resume ErrorExit
End If

End Sub

Sub SubProc1()

Dim clsError As CError

Set clsError = New CError: clsError.SetLoc "Module1", "SubProc1"


End Sub

Sub SubProc2()

Dim clsError As CError

Set clsError = New CError: clsError.SetLoc "Module1", "SubProc2"

Debug.Print 1 / 0

End Sub

EntryPoint calls SubProc1. SubProc1 calls SubProc2. An error occurs in SubProc2. Only EntryPoint has error handling. It uses On Error Goto ErrorHandler to route program flow to the error handling section. Neither SubProc1 nor SubProc2 have any error handling. We’re going to let VBA kick the error back up to the call stack until it gets to EntryPoint.

Each procedure has a local variable that points to an instance of CError. CError is a custom class whose Terminate event I’ll be using to log the error as it moves back up the stack. When the error occurs in SubProc2, the clsError variable in SubProc2 goes out of scope and its Terminate event fires. The error is passed up to SubProc1 by VBA by design. Because there is no error handling in SubProc1, that error causes the instance of clsError in SubProc1 to go out of scope and its Terminate event fires.

Once again, VBA does it’s thing by passing control back up the stack, error in tow. EntryPoint does have error handling, so when program control reaches it, the ErrorHandler section goes into action. Assuming we’re not in debug mode, the first thing to do is terminate clsError by setting it to nothing. By the time we exit this procedure, the built-in Err object will have been reset and we won’t have anything to log. By setting clsError in EntryPoint to Nothing, we get the last entry in our log. After that, the error is displayed and program control is sent back to ErrorExit for any clean up (no clean up in this example, just the Exit Sub).

The log looks like this:

01 Jan 14 21:40:40 [errorclass2.xlsm]Module1.SubProc2, Error 11: Division by zero
01 Jan 14 21:40:40 [errorclass2.xlsm]Module1.SubProc1, Error 11: Division by zero
01 Jan 14 21:40:40 [errorclass2.xlsm]Module1.EntryPoint, Error 11: Division by zero

Of course I made it virtually identical to PED’s log entry.

Instead of putting error handling in all of the downstream procedures, I just put a local variable that will terminate when an error occurs. The class looks like this:

Private mlErrorID As Long
Private msProcedureName As String
Private msModuleName As String

Private Sub Class_Terminate()

If Err.Number > 0 Then
Debug.Print Format(Now, "dd mmm yy hh:mm:ss") & Space(1) & Me.Location & ", " & Me.ErrDescription
End If

End Sub
Public Property Let ModuleName(ByVal sModuleName As String): msModuleName = sModuleName: End Property
Public Property Get ModuleName() As String: ModuleName = msModuleName: End Property
Public Property Let ErrorID(ByVal lErrorID As Long): mlErrorID = lErrorID: End Property
Public Property Get ErrorID() As Long: ErrorID = mlErrorID: End Property
Public Property Let ProcedureName(ByVal sProcedureName As String): msProcedureName = sProcedureName: End Property
Public Property Get ProcedureName() As String: ProcedureName = msProcedureName: End Property

Public Sub SetLoc(ByVal sModule As String, ByVal sProc As String)

Me.ModuleName = sModule
Me.ProcedureName = sProc

End Sub

Public Property Get Location() As String

Location = "[" & ThisWorkbook.Name & "]" & Me.ModuleName & "." & Me.ProcedureName

End Property

Public Property Get ErrDescription() As String

ErrDescription = "Error " & Err.Number & ": " & Err.Description

End Property

I’ve kept the logging pretty simple for this example. In the Class_Terminate event, I first check to see if Err.Number is zero. This method relies on the fact that the Terminate event will fire when an error occurs. But in reality, the Terminate event will fire when the subprocedure finishes without error too. It fires whenever my local variable goes out of scope and that happens when there’s an error or when the subprocedure completes. We only want to log when an error occurs, so we have to check that.

The logging is a simple Debug.Print statement. To replicate the PED method, that would need to be expanded to write to a log file.

This is a very simple example that I put together to see how this might be setup. There might be some problems with this method that I haven’t encountered. I’m not advocating that you use this method, but I am intrigued by its simplicity. If you have any thoughts on this method of error handling or on error handling in general, leave a comment below.

You can download errorclass2.zip

An MSForms Treeview 2: Ready for beta testing

Hi everyone,

Some time ago I announced I was working on “An MSForms Treeview” replacing the Common Controls Treeview with an all-VBA counterpart.

This home-made treeview control will work on any Office version as of Office 2000, including 32 and 64 bit Office. I expect it will even work on MAC Office, but I’m still waiting for test results.

Peter Thornton (thank you Peter!) jumped in on the project enthusiastically and really made a difference adding all sorts of usefull stuff and optimising the code for performance.

Now we’re ready for beta testing.

Please visit this page of my website for a description of the control and a download file which includes a demo userform implementing the treeview classes we built:

An MSForms (all VBA) treeview

Tell us what you think of it (oh, and please report bugs too!).


Jan Karel Pieterse

An MSForms Treeview

If you have ever used the Treeview control from the “Additional controls” section, then you know what a versatile control this is to show hierarchically organized data.

There are a couple of problems with this Treeview control:

  1. Compile errors due to a difference in how the control libraries are registered in 32 bits Windows’ System32 and 64 bit Windows’ SysWOW32 folders. If you distribute a file that was saved in 64 bit Windows, containing one of the “Microsoft Windows Common Controls 6.0” (The Treeview control is one of them) and with the reference set to “mscomctl.ocx”, people using 32 bit Windows will almost certainly have problems. At best it could entail removing both the control and the reference and replacing both, but at worst the user’s Excel can crash when trying to load the file and run the app.
  2. The standard Treeview control, like all non built-in ActiveX controls, cannot be used in 64 bit versions of Office.

Especially the second point convinced me it is time to develop a custom-made Treeview “control”, that only uses the native Office forms controls. I started building this a couple of weeks ago and after some time I tricked Peter Thornton into helping me with it :-)

The screenshot below shows both our new Treeview (left) and the Windows one (right) side-by-side:

Not bad, right?

Both Treeviews allow for checkboxes:

And both allow icons (windows Treeview not shown here):

You can also edit a node:

And expand and collapse nodes and navigate the tree using your arrow keys.

We built the custom Treeview using just two class modules. Using it in your project will require nothing more than copying the two classes and adding a bit of plumbing to your userform: some code and an empty frame which will hold the Treeview and possibly a frame with pictures for the icons.

We’re currently doing some cleaning up (like removing obsolete debugging stuff, adding comments and the like), so the “control” is not quite ready to be released to the outside world. Keep an eye on this blog, once we’re done we’ll post here.

Well, what do you think, is this useful or what? What functionality would be critical for you? Let us know!


Jan Karel Pieterse