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Visual Basic for Applications

When thinking about Visual Basic for Applications ('VBA') the first thing which you might think of is Microsoft Office. That's because although VBA was designed to enhance applications in general, it was soon primarily used within the Microsoft Office suite to provide a programming environment which could easily surpass the previously used macro language(s).

Unfortunately it's also a language which seems highly underappreciated and sometimes even misunderstood. And so I figured I'd setup an advocacy page.

This page was last updated on: 26 Jan 2021 .

Basic for beginners only?

Many people don't think too highly about the Basic language, probably because it started out to help people learn more easily how to program a computer. It's even in the name itself, BASIC is an acronym which stands for "Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code".

Of course that's also ignoring the fact that at this time it's by far the language it once was. Even Microsoft's Visual Basic has eventually evolved and found its place as a full fledged Object Oriented ("OO") language within the .NET framework. Unfortunately many people think back to the times of the Commodore 64 when talking about Basic.

And with that in mind it's only logical that some people come to conclude that if we're talking about a Basic variant which is even constrained to a single application then surely it has to be pretty limited in the things it can do?

VBA being mis-understood (and under appreciated)

Take Wikipedia. If you check out the VBA article on the Dutch Wikipedia site it mentions (quote):

"Het zwakke punt van VBA is het gebrek aan kracht in de taal, en de vaak zeer gebrekkige set "objecten" die applicaties en VBA zelf aanleveren. Dit is echter enorm afhankelijk van de applicatie waarin VBA draait: zo biedt VBA in Excel & Access veel meer mogelijkheden om in interactie te treden met de geopende spreadsheet of database dan pakweg VBA in Powerpoint."

This translates to:

"VBA's weak point is the lack of strength within the language, and the often extremely limited set of "objects" which are provided by both the applications and VBA itself. However, this is very depending on the application in which VBA operates: Within Excel or Access VBA provides much more possibilities to interact with the opened spreadsheet or database than VBA within Powerpoint."

Which, in my opinion, clearly shows the lack of understanding which many people have. After all; it's also fair to say that Excel can perform much more (mathematical) operations than PowerPoint can. Excel is used to process data whereas PowerPoint is aimed at showing (static) data, usually in the form of slideshows. Surely it shouldn't come as a surprise that this also means that there is a significant difference in the functionality of both programs.

And because VBA mainly operates within the scope of the host application it should be obvious that this difference in functionality also reflects back on it. Yet as you can read for yourself some people would rather "blame" VBA instead of looking at the host application. Which, in my humble opinion, basically show their own ignorance.

More advocacy to follow later..