Searching Text Files in a Directory

I have several years of vendor invoices, in text file format, in some directories on a share. I need to search through these text files to find an order number, manifest number, or some other piece of information. I can’t search everything because it would take too long. And I don’t have control over the server, so if there is some indexing that could be done, I can’t do it. I’m stuck with good old VBA.

The folders are yyyymmdd (ex: 20150725 for July 25th) and corresponds to the invoice dates for any invoices in the file. Each file starts with a three letter abbreviation of the vendors name. Invoice date and vendor name are the only two pieces of information I can use to limit the search. The final piece of information is, of course, the search term. Here’s what the form looks like

I have a table of vendors and codes to populate the Vendor combobox. The QuickDate combobox populates the Date Range textboxes and contains common date ranges, namely, Last Month, This Month, Last Quarter, This Quarter, Last Year, This Year. I can change the dates to whatever I want if there isn’t a Quick Date that suits me. The Search Terms textbox takes a space separated list of terms to search for.

And now the fun part. The code. This converts the Quick Dates into real dates

This makes sure a real date is entered, but provides for 6 or 8 digit date entry.

And the big one, the actual search. This is pretty long and needs to be refactored, but it works for now.

It takes about 60 seconds per month to search the files. That’s a long time so it’s necessary to entertain the user while he waits. The top entry in the results listbox is whatever the current file is. It rapidly changes the display as it loops through the folder. When there’s a hit, that file becomes the second entry and any prior hits move down. This little animation lets the user know that it’s still working and gives him a list of what hits have been found already.

You can download

Setting the Tab Order of Userform Controls Programmatically

I hate designing userforms. I mean the part where I’m lining up controls, renaming controls, and all the other super-fiddly parts of making a form look and act right – like setting the tab order. I always wait until the very end so I don’t have to do it twice. And that Tab Order dialog? Forget about it.

When I’m finally ready to set the tab order, I find the first control and click Move Up until it’s at the top. Next, I find the second control and click Move Up until it’s just below the first control. Then I go to Whammyburger and force them to serve me breakfast. Then I go back and do the rest of the controls. It’s maddening. I decided finally to do something about it.

First I set a reference to the VBA Extensibility Library.

Then I put this code in a standard module

This is pretty brute force, but it only take a few seconds to run, so who cares. The i and j variables move through the userform point-by-point, left to right, top to bottom (that’s the typographical point, not the agenda items point). For every point on the userform, it loops through every control to see if that control starts at that point. If it finds one, it sets the controls TabIndex to the next number. At the end it just prints out the control names and tabs.

Even if that’s not exactly how I want my tab order, it gets it close and I can make other modifications manually.

If you have a super-wide or super-long form, it will take longer. The right way to do this is to put all the controls in an array and sort them by their Top and Left properties. If this method is too slow, you should write that up. Then send me a copy.

Document Not Saved Error on ExportAsFixedFormat

Recently, I was accusing ExportAsFixedFormat of causing a problem with some code. It turned out to not be the culprit. But I was suspicious because I very often get a Document Not Saved runtime error when I export to PDF in a loop. When I get that error, I can click Debug and F5, and it happily continues until it errors again. Of course, watching something loop eighty-six times to make sure it doesn’t error kind of defeats the purpose of the loop. Today, I took a stand.

I have this code that changes the page fields on a pivot table and exports a range. The result is eighty-six PDFs in a folder that I sew together into one big report. There are two page fields, so there are two loops. Here’s the inner loop.

You see my pathetic DoEvents attempt at avoiding the error. The error stops on the ExportAsFixedFormat line, so the DoEvents doesn’t actually help. When the error happens, a .tmp file is left in the directory. And when I do the Debug, F5 thing, the .tmp file stays there forever. Clearly this is a temporary file that would someday become a PDF if not for this error.

The .tmp file is my evidence that the processed finished. I can ignore the error and as long as there is no temp file, I’ll know the error never occurred. I rewrote the loop thusly:

As long as there’s a file with a tmp extension, I keep trying to export. The Kill statement needs to be inside the On Error because there won’t be anything to Kill the first time.

After a rigorous test of one time, it worked. I should have put a little loop counter in there to see how many times it errored. And maybe to exit out in case it gets into an infinite loop situation.

Converting SUMs to SUBTOTALs

Everyone knows that SUBTOTAL ignores filtered rows. Readers of DDoE know that SUBTOTAL also ignores other SUBTOTAL formulas. I tell everyone who will listen about the benefits of SUBTOTAL. It’s one of the best received tips in the ‘Tips and Tricks’ portion of the training I do. But I still get spreadsheets that use SUM and individual adding of cells. When I do, I convert them to SUBTOTAL to make sure there are no errors. Today, I decided to automate that process.

I’ve filled column B over to the right into column C so I can preserve the original data.

With Excel’s color coding and this simple worksheet, you may have spotted the error in the grand total formula. Below is the code I wrote to correct this situation without having to put in all the SUBTOTALs manually.

This won’t work in every situation, but this layout is the one I see the most. This layout being SUMs for the subtotals and a big =A1+A2+A3 style formula for the grand total.

Once again SUBTOTAL saves the day and fixes the error. The most common error I see with this layout is in the grand total, but not always. Sometimes the subtotals don’t cover the correct range. It would seem easier when replacing the SUMs to use the same range the SUM uses, but I wanted to make sure I fixed any of those errors too. To do that, I SUBTOTAL from the cell below the previous SUBTOTAL to the cell above the current one.

Pro tip: Use

to toggle between viewing formulas and values (that’s an accent grave, left of the 1 key on US keyboards).

Excel Is Waiting for another Application to Complete an OLE Action

Have you ever seen this message? It’s not an error. You can’t click Debug and go see which line of code it’s on when this happens. You can’t even click Cancel. All you can do is click OK every 10 seconds or so until it’s done. Brutal.

I ran into this message recently on some code that someone else wrote but that I’d modified (see how I’m already deflecting the blame). The code runs through a hundred or so customers and sends them an email. Each customer has its own worksheet and that worksheet is turned into HTML to be used in the body of the email. Incidentally they used Ron de Bruin’s RangeToHTML function to do the conversion. I happened to have written that function back when I had a website called Ah, memories.

The code I modified was working well for a few weeks before it started acting up. One line in the code looks like this

That saves the sheet as a PDF. I use the ExportAsFixedFormat method a lot in loops and I get the

error every so often. When I get this error I hit Debug and F5 and everything works fine. I know it’s a timing issue, but haven’t taken the time to figure out how to avoid it. It started happening on this customer email workbook. I couldn’t hardly ask a normal user to click Debug, F5, and close the VBE when it’s done. I’m not a monster.

I put a one second delay before line to allow Windows to have time to release the file lock or whatever the heck is going on. It only executes on about seven of the 100 customers, so it makes a 10 second procedure run in 17 seconds. We can live with that. And it worked. No more errors.

Everything was fine until the OLE Action message started popping up a couple days later. Of course when anything goes wrong after a code change, you have to blame the code change. The angry villagers were at my door demanding that the one second delay be removed. I wasn’t convinced (spoiler: I’m the hero in this story). I sat at the user’s computer, ran the code, and got the message. I changed the status bar to show me which customer it was on when the message appears. When I ran the code again, it was on Vandelay Industries. We looked at some past Vandelay emails and we noticed that the format was all messed up in yesterday’s email, but otherwise looked OK. Formatting problems don’t cause OLE messages, so I ignored it.

I did some Binging and saw my old buddy Shane Devonshire recommended checking the

checkbox in Tools – Options. I could tell he was grasping at straws, but I was at the straw-grasping stage, so I went with it. I ran the code for the third time (a tedious process because of all the OLE messages) and it got stuck on Vandelay Industries again. A clue!

I discussed this new information with the user. Since Vandelay did not get a pdf attachment, I concluded that the problem was Outlook and not whatever generates PDFs from Office. Maybe we messed up the email address and Outlook was churning away trying to resolve it. Nope, no change there. But he did mention that he added a note to the bottom of their worksheet. More specifically, he copied the note from another customer’s sheet and pasted it to Vandalay’s. Oh, and one other thing. When he pasted the message, he accidentally selected the entire row, which put the message in every cell in that row, rather than just the first one. But he deleted all the extraneous messages, so it was fine.

“Aha!”, I said. I went to their sheet and pressed Ctrl+End. That took me to cell XFD92. In the code, the (now enormous) UsedRange was being passed to RangeToHTML. I went to the Outbox in Outlook and there was a 43MB message sitting there staring back at me. The OLE Action that Excel was waiting for Outlook to complete was rending 43MBs of HTML in a message.

The quick fix was to delete all the columns in that sheet that I didn’t want, save, close, and reopen. Fixed. As for the code, it’s tempting to use an alternative method for finding the real used range. That solves the email problem, but it doesn’t fix the root of the problem – a messed up UsedRange that’s unnecessarily bloating the file.

In the end, I decided to test the number of columns and rows in the UsedRange, and if they’re over a threshold, raise an error. That will allow the user to fix the root and rerun the procedure.

Filter a Custom Class Using CallByName

Andrzej asks

Is there a way to dynamically state by which property do I want to filter/sort/unique? ppl.FilterBy(City, “Tokio”).FilterBy(LastName,”Smith”).Unique(FirstName)
Without doing select case

James Brown corrected my response by saying:

You should be able to write a generic filter function in your custom collection class based around CallByName from the object class.

Of course he’s right. Here’s how that might look. Suppose I have some sample contact data.

I could filter by any one of those properties like this

The comparison value needs to be a variant to account for all the different data types your properties could be. If you had a property of your class that was another class it could complicate things. But this saves me having to write a bunch of Filter properties. So thanks James for making that comment.

Building an Excel Add-in

Hi there!

Only recently I read this quote somewhere: “If you want something done, ask a busy person”. I found two entirely different people as the originator of this quote: Benjamin Franklin and Lucille Ball. I wonder which it is…

Well, turns out I’ve been quite busy as of late. So I decided it was time to dust off some old stuff I prepared to add to my site but never came round to finishing (I must have become less busy when I was almost done :-) ).

If you’re about to embark on the journey to create an add-in out of a set of macro’s you have been using for some time now, this article is a nice read as it takes you through most of the steps needed when building an add-in for Excel.



Jan Karel Pieterse


AET Excel Utilities

Hi there. For the last few months I’ve been working on my main add-in, AET Excel Utilities.

So far I’m in the process of setting up some partners, had a translation offer, and downloads are happening as I write this. Thanks very much to everybody for your help. Don’t be shy if you are interested!

I first started working on it in 2005, as a hobby, and a way to learn VBA. Over time it’s grown from having a handful of very simple tools, to what it is now – well over a hundred utilities (more like over two hundred), and some of them quite complex, even if I do say so myself. Useful? I like to think so. Not a day goes by that I don’t use it, and I can honestly say it saves me lots of time.

But there’s a problem. Even though I like these utilities, I’m not very good at selling myself, letting alone anything I’ve made. And in the world of Excel, most folk have either never heard of me or think I’ve retired if they have. That’s been fine until now, with me plugging away in a corner, tinkering away, but it’s always bothered me that my tools could be so much more.

So, I’d ask all of you for some help. I’m making the tools shareware. And I’m looking for people to help sell them. Do you have a site? If so, are you willing to become a partner or an affiliate? Like I say, I’m not great at sales so any assistance would be appreciated. Translations? Great! Let’s talk about a percentage. I guess the main thing is making people aware of them. Apart from making a bit of pocket money, serious interest will give me incentive to improve them and maybe even try to give my site a bit of an overhaul. (Please contact me using aengwirda [at] if you are interested).

Here’s a few screenshots to whet your interest. (Well maybe more than a few…). Look to the left, the AET UTILITIES tab shares both my main utilities and free add-ins (which you can download here).

Worksheet Tools

Rows And Columns

Formula Tools

Deletion Tools

Object Tools

Export Tools

Text Tools

Number Tools

Time And Date

Chart Tools

Path And Folder

Workbook Tools

Developer Tools

Fun And Games

Other Utilities

Cell Menu

Row Menu

Column Menu

Sheet Menu

Here’s the download page link. On the same webpage, you can also download a copy of the Help files for more details on the individual tools, plus the password to see how the code works.

In addition to adding more tools over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on my free utilities too. More details on them, and also some new code samples, that I’m looking forward to posting about in the near future.