Excel MVP and MrExcel, has been using spreadsheets since 1985, and he launched the MrExcel.com website in 1998. Bill has made more than 50 guest appearances on Call for Help with Leo Laporte and has produced more than 250 episodes of his daily video podcast, Learn Excel from MrExcel. He is the host of Total Training’s Excel 2007 Advanced DVD. He also enjoys taking his show on the road, doing a one- to four-hour power Excel seminar anywhere that a room full of accountants or Excellers will show up. Before founding MrExcel.com, Jelen spent 12 years in the trenches–working as a financial analyst for finance, marketing, accounting, and operations departments of a $500 million public company. He lives near Akron, Ohio, with his wife, Mary Ellen, and sons, Josh and Zeke.
Tracy Syrstad remembers the painful trek up the VBA learning curve while developing applications for herself and co-workers at a former job. Now, as the project manager for the MrExcel consulting team, she enjoys helping clients develop custom solutions for their unique situations, observing the myriad ways people use Excel and other Microsoft Office applications.
In this introduction
Getting Results with VBA
As corporate IT departments have found themselves with long backlogs of requests, Excel users have found that they can produce the reports needed to run their business themselves using the macro language Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). VBA enables you to achieve tremendous efficiencies in your day-to-day use of Excel. This is both a good and bad thing. On the good side, without waiting for resources from IT, you've probably been able to figure out how to import data and produce reports in Excel. On the bad side, you are now stuck importing data and producing reports in Excel.
What Is in This Book
You've taken the right step by purchasing this book. I can help you get up the learning curve so that you can write your own VBA macros and put an end to the burden of generating reports manually.
Getting Up the Learning Curve
This introduction provides a brief history of spreadsheets. Chapter 1 introduces the tools and confirms what you probably already know: The macro recorder does not work. Chapter 2 helps you understand the crazy syntax of VBA. Chapter 3 breaks the code on how to efficiently work with ranges and cells.
By the time you get to Chapter 4, you will know enough to put to immediate use the 25 sample user-defined functions in that chapter.
Chapter 5 covers the power of looping using VBA. In Valerie's case study, after we wrote the program to produce the first department report, it took only another minute to wrap that report routine in a loop that produced all 46 reports.
Chapter 6 covers R1C1-style formulas. Chapter 7 takes a look at what changed in Excel VBA from Excel 2003 to Excel 2007. In the past, it was fairly easy to create VBA code that would run on any of the recent versions of Excel. Unfortunately, with the sweeping changes in Excel 2007, this will become significantly more difficult. Chapter 8 covers names. Chapter 9 has some great tricks that use event programming. Chapter 10 introduces custom dialog boxes that you can use to collect information from the human using Excel.
Excel VBA Power
Chapters 11 through 13 provide an in-depth look at charting, Advanced Filter, and pivot tables. Any report automation tool is going to rely heavily on these concepts.
Chapter 14 includes another 25 code samples designed to exhibit the power of Excel VBA.
Chapters 15 through 18 handle data visualizations, Web queries, XML, and automating another Office program such as Word.
The Techie Stuff Needed to Produce Applications for Others
Chapter 19 shows you how to use arrays to build fast applications. Chapters 20 and 21 handle reading and writing to text files and Access databases. The techniques for using Access databases enable you to build an application with the multi-user features of Access yet keep the friendly front end of Excel.
Chapter 22 covers VBA from the point of view of a Visual Basic programmer. It teaches you about classes and collections. Chapter 23 discusses advanced userform topics. Chapter 24 teaches you some tricky ways to achieve tasks using the Windows application programming interface. Chapters 25 through 27 deal with error handling, custom menus, and add-ins.
Does This Book Teach Excel?
Microsoft believes the average Office user touches only 10 percent of the features in Office. I realize everyone reading this book is above average. I think that I have a pretty smart audience at MrExcel.com. A poll of 8,000 MrExcel.com readers shows that only 42 percent of smarter-than-average users are using any one of the top 10 power features in Excel. I regularly do a Power Excel seminar for accountants. These are hard-core Excelers who use Excel 30 to 40 hours every week. Again, two things come out in every seminar. First, half the audience gasps when they see how quickly you can do tasks with a particular feature (such as automatic subtotals or pivot tables). Second, I am routinely trumped by someone in the audience. Someone will ask a question, I will answer, and someone in the second row will raise a hand and give a better answer. The point? You and I both really know a lot about Excel. However, I will assume that in any given chapter, maybe 58 percent of the people haven't used pivot tables before and maybe even less have used the "Top 10 Filter" feature of pivot tables. Before I show you how to automate something in VBA, I briefly cover how to do the same task in the Excel interface. This book does not teach you how to do pivot tables, but it does alert you that you might want to go explore something and learn it elsewhere.
Monthly Accounting Reports
This is a true story. Valerie is a business analyst in the accounting department of a medium-size corporation. Her company recently installed an overbudget $16 million ERP system. As the project ground to a close, there were no resources left in the IT budget to produce the monthly report that this corporation used to summarize each department.
Valerie, however, had been close enough to the implementation process to think of a way to produce the report herself. She understood that she could export General Ledger data from the ERP system to a text file with comma-separated values. Using Excel, Valerie was able to import the G/L data from the ERP system into Excel.
Creating the report was not easy. Like many companies, there were exceptions in the data. Valerie knew that certain accounts in one particular cost center needed to be reclassed as an expense. She knew that other accounts needed to be excluded from the report entirely. Working carefully in Excel, Valerie made these adjustments. She created one pivot table to produce the first summary section of the report. She cut the pivot table results and pasted them into a blank worksheet. Then she created a new pivot table report for the second section of the summary. After about three hours, she had imported the data, produced five pivot tables, arranged them in a summary, and had neatly formatted the report in color.
Becoming the Hero
Valerie handed this report to her manager. The manager had just heard from the IT department that it would be months before they could get around to producing "that convoluted report." Valerie walked in, handed the Excel report over, and became the instant hero of the day. In three hours, Valerie had managed to do the impossible. Valerie was on cloud nine after a well-deserved "atta-girl."
The next day, this manager attended the monthly department meeting. When the department managers started complaining that they couldn't get the report from the ERP system, this manager pulled out his department report and placed it on the table. The other managers were amazed. How was he able to produce this report? Everyone was greatly relieved to hear that someone had cracked the code. The company president asked Valerie's manager if he could have the report produced for each department.
The Cheers Turn to Dread
You can certainly see this coming. This particular company had 46 departments. That means 46 one-page summaries had to be produced once a month. Each required importing data from the ERP system, backing out certain accounts, producing five pivot tables, and then formatting in color. It had taken Valerie three hours to produce the first report. She found that after she got into the swing of things, she was able to produce the 46 reports in 40 hours. This is horrible. Valerie had a job to do before she won the responsibility of spending 40 hours a month producing these reports in Excel. <...