AET VBE Tools v1.6.1

Over the last week, I made some changes to my AET VBE Tools.

Although still free, I want to ensure they are as good as I can make them for you, before I release a paid version.

This is what has been done –

An indenting bug was fixed for Select Case constructs when working with Projects and Modules.

I also improved the indenting of Add Line Numbers code.

When adding the date and time to text files being exported, the code has been adjusted to show the correct time.

I made a change to the Copy Code and Compare Code userforms. Sometimes duplicate file names were showing.

I edited Highlight Code In Excel so that individual Case statements are also highlighted with Select Case constructs.

Case Statements

Note: It is a big help with regards to visibility to see them highlighted this way. Unfortunately I had to hard code that part, so it will only work if your tab settings are set to 4. (In the VBE, Tools, Options, Editor, Tab Width). If I find a way to determine this programatically, I will adjust the code to suit. Alternatively, if you know a way, please leave a comment.

As a small bonus, I also added the functionality to delete Debug.Assert and Stop to the Cleanup Project code.

Download the new version here.


Late last year, I started work on a new set of VBE tools. It’s an extension of a code indenter that I made several years ago. I thought it would be nice to update it.

So far I’m up to Version 1.6. It’s freeware, but I’m starting work on a shareware version that will have more stuff. Anyway, here’s what I blogged about it on my site. Give it a try if you like!

Access AET VBE Tools by right clicking within the active code pane.

Here are the tools.

Indent Code
Indent code within the active VB project, module, procedure or selected text.

Add Line Numbers
Add line numbers to code within the active VB project, module, procedure.

Delete Line Numbers
Delete line numbers from code within the active VB project, module, procedure.

Export Code
Export code from the active VB project, module, procedure to text files.

Compare Code
Select modules from projects.

Code from both modules will be exported to worksheets in a new workbook.

Code that exists in one module, but not the other (and vice versa) will be highlighted.

Copy Code
You can copy code/modules between projects.

Standard modules, class modules and userforms will be be replaced if they exist (have the same name), or added if they don’t exist.

ThisWorkbook code will be replaced.

Sheet module’s code will be replaced if the sheet exists, or worksheets will be added with the new code if they don’t exist.

Macro Comment Tools
A handy way to add generic comments to all macros in the active project or module.

Insert Code Snippets
Tired of entering the same code all the time? This makes it easier.

Run Favourite Macros
Yes, you can already run them from your Personal workbook.

But now you can also export your favourite code to text files. Note: Not all code will run. This is a experimental tool, but I have found it quite useful when coding myself.

Multiple Find And Replace
You can find and replace code with several fields at once. Fields are saved between sessions.

Cleanup Project
Just 2 options at the moment. You can delete lines of code that have “Debug.Print”, and also delete excess blank lines. (Only a single blank line will remain)

Highlight Code In Excel
Export your code to a worksheet in a new workbook. Selecting cells in Column A that have keywords like If, With, Select, etc will be highlighted so you can see where that part of the code begins and ends. This is very beneficial to your mental health when trying to figure out what connects with what in those long, long procedures.

Last, but not least, there are various settings available.

Download AET VBE Tools v1.6 here.

Good VBA Dates and Bad Excel Dates

No, I’m not launching a match making service for Excel nerds. I’m talking about calendar dates. I was importing some data from a system that doesn’t seem to care what dates you might enter. Here’s the offender

Instead of 2016, the user entered 1206. VBA doesn’t care.

But Excel cares. As you know, Excel stores dates as the number of days since December 31, 1899. Anything before 1900-01-01 isn’t considered a date. The way this manifested was strange to me. I got the error (Application-defined or object-defined error) on this line

When I filled the class, and specifically the TranDate property, no problem as VBA recognizes it as a date. When I fill the array vaWrite, no problem – the array contains text, numbers, and dates so it’s typed as a Variant. It’s only when I try to write it to a range that it complains. But why? I can type 12/13/1206 into a cell with no problem. It won’t recognize it as a date, but it doesn’t throw an error either.

A user (who is not me) got the error and clicked End. They’ve learned that clicking Debug only makes things worse – not that there are ever bugs in my code. When he clicked End, the code filled up the range all the way up to the bad date, line 1103.

That’s unexpected behavior. I would think the whole write operation would fail, but apparently not. The good news is that this partial writing of data led me to the root of the problem very quickly. The bad news is that the user was perfectly happy that clicking End produced data and he didn’t realize that the data wasn’t complete. He went on about his day until things just weren’t tying out properly. As much as I like the debugging help of a partial write, I think I would prefer if it didn’t write anything at all.

In any case, it’s an interesting insight into writing an array to a range all at once. It’s long known that filling an array and plopping it into a range is way faster than writing out cell-by-cell. But whatever you do in VBA to avoid looping, you’re not really avoiding looping. All you’re doing is moving the loop to a faster place. For instance, when you Join an array, something in VBA is looping, just not you. In this case, VBA is looping through vaWrite and filling up cells and it’s doing it faster than you or I could. The interesting thing to me is that it’s really a screen refresh that’s hiding the loop (maybe). As opposed to, say, VBA building a bunch of XML in the background and replacing part of the sheet.

But back to the error. Why an error anyway? As I said, I can type that non-date into Excel without error. I can even type that non-date in a cell and format the cell as a date without error. If I enter the formula =DATE(1206,12,13) in a cell, it returns 12/13/3106. Not a good result, but not an error either.

I think it all comes down to the fact that VBA has cast this data as a date and Excel won’t accept a date outside of its range. At least it won’t accept it from VBA. If I look at the locals window, I can see that my Variant Array has cast that value as a Variant/Date.

And this command in the Immediate Window fails with the same error as above

but if I override the cast by casting it as a String, it works

If you’ve followed me down this rabbit hole and are still reading, then may god have mercy on your soul. Here’s my fix

Instead of assigning the recordset date field to the property (I commented out that line), I assign it to a date variable and test the year. If the year is less than 1900, then I change it to 1900. I considered changing it to the current year, but I think having a different incorrect year that doesn’t cause an error is better than trying to guess what it should have been.

You might have noticed that I prefixed the Year function with VBA. I have a property in this class called Year, so when I try to use it, VBA thinks I’m referring the class property and not the VBA function. Prefixing the function call with the library name ensures that it uses the right one.

I wrote that Nz function back in 2007 but it’s been updated since. So here’s the new and improved version.

This is great example of a function that needs some comments.

Excel corrupts certain workbooks in migrating from 2003 to 2007

I got a email from a client asking for help because Excel was “destroying,” to use his terminology, his 2003 workbook after conversion to the 2007 format. And, after analyzing the kind of change Excel made, I had to agree.

The following in 2003

badnames 1
Figure 1

becomes, in 2013 (and in 2010),

badnames 5
Figure 2

The basic problem is that names that are legitimate names in Excel 2003 may become unacceptable in 2007 (or later). But, a more devastating problem is with a formula using a name with a dot in it. Even though it is completely legitimate, Excel changes the dot to a colon. This causes the formula =SW1.SW2 to become =SW1:SW2. Don’t ask me why. It just does. The result is the formula is all wrong and destroys the integrity of the workbook.

It appears that the cause may be Excel trying to help manage the transition of a XLS workbook into the newer format. In 2007, Microsoft increased the number of columns from 256 to 16,384. Consequently, the reference to last column went from IV to XFD. So, a name such as SW1, completely OK in 2003, became unacceptable in 2007. On converting a XLS file to a XLSX file, Excel will convert such names by adding an underscore at the start of the name. But, it seems to go beyond that, converting formula references to certain names with dots in them to a colon. This happens if both the tokens to the left and to the right of the dot could be legitimate cell references. So, Excel converts the formula =XFD1.XFD2 to =XFD1:XFD2 but it will leave =XFD1.XFE2 alone.

To replicate the problem:

  • Start with Excel 2003. Create a workbook and add the names shown in the Figure 1. Save and close the workbook.
  • Open the workbook in Excel 2013. Save it as a XLSX file. Acknowledge the warning message (see Figure 3),

    badnames 3
    Figure 3

  • Close and reopen the new XLSX workbook. The formulas will have the errors shown in Figure 2.

The safest way to work around this problem is to add an underscore before every name in the workbook before making the transition to the 2007 format. Obviously, the quickest way to do this would be with a very simple VBA procedure. But, through trial and error I discovered the code will not work in 2003. It runs without any problems but it doesn’t do anything!

So, the correct way to use the code is the following sequence.

  • Open the XLS file in 2013 (or 2010).
  • Run the macro below.

    Option Explicit

    Sub fixNames()
    Dim aName As Name
    For Each aName In ActiveWorkbook.Names
    With aName
    If Left(.Name, 1) <> "_" Then _
    .Name = "_" & .Name
    End With
    Next aName
    End Sub

  • Now, save the file in the newer format. If your original workbook had no code in it, save the file as a XLSX file and acknowledge the warning that the VB project will be lost.
  • Close and reopen the file. You should see the correct data with all the names now starting with an underscore.

    badnames 7
    Figure 4

Tushar Mehta

The Range.Find method and a FindAll function

Two things that could be better about the Range.Find method have been 1) up-to-date and correct documentation, and 2) adding the UI’s ‘Find All’ capability to the Excel Object Model. As of Office 2013 neither has happened.

Consequently, every time I want to use the Find method, I continue to have to jump through hoops to figure out the correct values for the different arguments.

I also discovered that FindNext does not work as expected when one wants to search for cells that meet certain format criteria. Consequently, I updated my long available FindAll function so that it works correctly with format criteria.

For a version in a page by itself (i.e., not in a scrollable iframe as below) visit

Tushar Mehta

Minimum and maximum values of numeric data types

There has been many an occasion when I have wanted programmatic access to the maximum or minimum or smallest value of a data type. Some programming languages have built-in support through names like MaxInt. VBA, unfortunately, is not one of them.

I decided to “translate” the documentation defining the different data types into code. The functions Max{datatype}, Min{datatype}, and Smallest{datatype} return the appropriate value. The Max and Min functions should be self-evident. The Smallest function returns the smallest non-zero value supported by the data type. Since this is simply 1 for all data types associated with integers (Byte, Integer, Long, LongPtr, LongLong, and Currency), Smallest is defined only for data types associated with real numbers (Single, Double, and Decimal).

For a version in a page by itself (i.e., not in a scrollable iframe as below) visit

Tushar Mehta

Access data in a closed workbook containing a protected worksheet

In a LinkedIn group, someone wanted to access data in a shared server-based workbook that contained a protected sheet with locked cells that were not selectable. In addition to sharing an automated way of doing this, this post contains two other embedded tips.

The solution, as many know, is to enter a formula in the destination worksheet that references the source cell, e.g., =’C:\Temp\[Book2.xlsx]Sheet1′!$E$5

Given the high likelihood of making an error in entering long formulas, I decided to see if I could automate the process.

Tip 1: In doing so, I discovered that under certain circumstances Excel will make a very interesting correction. If the source workbook has a single worksheet, then one can use any sheet name in the formula and Excel will change it to the correct one! So, if book2.xlsx contains a single sheet named Sheet1, and one were to enter the incorrect formula =’C:\Temp\[Book2.xlsx]abc’!$E$5, Excel will correct it to =’C:\Temp\[Book2.xlsx]Sheet1′!$E$5.

That aside, since the cells in the source worksheet are not selectable, one cannot construct the formula using click-and-point. So, I decided that as long as one wants the values from the source cells to be in the same cell in the destination worksheet, why not select the cells in the destination worksheet? The code below does just that. Also, there is no longer a need to open the shared server workbook at all!

One final note. I rarely use so many different interactions with the consumer, preferring a userform. But, the below is easier to share. ;-)

Tip 2: The Inputbox method gets a single piece of information from the user, e.g., the sheet name in the code below. If the user were to cancel the resulting dialog box, the method returns False. The usual way to check for this is to compare the returned value with “False”. But, this precludes a legitimate response of “False”! So, I tend to check if the returned type is a boolean. The same applies to the GetOpenFilename method.

Enter the code below is a standard VBE module. Then, open the destination worksheet (or create a new one), and then run the linkToExternal subroutine. It will ask for the source workbook, the source worksheet, and then the destination cells. The code will add in each destination cell a formula that links to the same cell in the source worksheet.

Option Explicit

Sub linkToExternal()
If ActiveWorkbook Is Nothing Then
MsgBox "Please open the destination workbook before running this macro"
Exit Sub
End If
Dim FName
FName = Application.GetOpenFilename( _
Title:="Please select the source workbook")
If TypeName(FName) = "Boolean" Then Exit Sub
FName = Left(FName, InStrRev(FName, Application.PathSeparator)) _
& "[" & Mid(FName, InStrRev(FName, Application.PathSeparator) + 1) _
& "]"
Dim SheetName
SheetName = Application.InputBox("Please enter the name of the source sheet", Type:=2)
If TypeName(SheetName) = "Boolean" Then Exit Sub
FName = "='" & FName & SheetName & "'!"
Dim Rng As Range
On Error Resume Next
Set Rng = Application.InputBox( _
"Please select the destination cells into which you want the corresponding source cell values", _
On Error GoTo 0
If Rng Is Nothing Then Exit Sub
Dim aCell As Range
For Each aCell In Rng
aCell.Formula = FName & aCell.Address(True, True)
Next aCell
End Sub