Great software day

The other day I was multitasking. I had some grubby spreadsheeting to do, and I was rebuilding my old laptop. That involved clearing 10 Gb of space for some new stuff to play with.

I mainly wanted to install my Resolver beta, and that needed .net framework 2.0. I’ve steered clear of installing 2.0 for fear of breaking some delicate 1.1 stuff. But with the Resolver download burning a hole in my hard drive I had to make some tough choices – hence clearing 10 Gb of junk. Go to their website to find out more. If anyone has a 1 or 2 sentence decent description please post it – I’ve tried a few unsuccessfully. (Its a cross between a spreadsheet and a full power IDE, with real time access to the calculation process?)

I installed VS2005 – looks good, I havent used it since RC1, I still use 6.0 and 2003 usually. I’m really holding out for 2008 as they have added some new native win32 stuff (C++ MFC updated for Vista, and some other stuff I think).

Then I saw the 2007 XLL SDK was released so I installed Office 2007 and the SDK. Everything seemed to work, the Resolver doco looks good, I intend to play with that whilst I am in the US next week.

I had to repartition the machine a couple of times (trying to not delete too much stuff) so this little lot took most of the day whilst I trundled along on my other machine.

The final piece, I got SLED 10 on the cover of a magazine and I wanted to see if I could get VBA working in OpenOffice on Linux. So I installed that (needed yet more HD repartitioning – I really had to insist it left my Windows partitions alone and kept to the 6Gb I unformatted for it). The install went well, normally I half expect Linux installs to fail with an error I do not understand at all. This time though all was sweet.

The Novell OpenOffice 2.1 that was included does not appear to be as VBA rich as the (Windows) OxygenOffice version I looked at before. Still, seeing a

Private Sub Hello
MsgBox "Hello from some sort of basic on Linux"
End Sub

working on linux is pretty neat.

With OxygenOffice you could use ActiveCell etc, but I havent got that working in Novell OpenOffice 2.1. I do know that these early 2.x’s are where the VBA support has been rapidly developing. 2.3 is currently in RC so maybe that will add more. Maybe us VB die-hards have a Linux flavoured future? (How ironic that would be!). Although I’m more of a C#/C++ fanboy these days.

Anyway back to the XLL SDK – I had a bit of a poke around and the documentation seems loads better than the 97 kit. There aren’t as many sample projects, but the updated framewrk and generic seem clear enough. You’ll still need macrofun.hlp to get the skinny on many of the function/command parameters.

I plan to do a series of posts ‘from VBA to xll’ over the coming weeks, probably using VS2005 targeting Excel 97-2007 rather than 2007 specific, what do you reckon?

One big issue with the XLL story in 2007 is backwards compatibility. As usual its very good in terms of Excel 2007 supporting stuff you wrote for previous versions (excluding UI issues (never an xll strong point)). However because Excel 2007 is so different internally (bigger grid, multi-threaded, etc) stuff you write for 2007 that takes advantage of these new features, isn’t going to work well in previous versions. (think crash).

Proper (ish) report on Resolver when I get back from Seattle, unless that Biggus Dickus makes me go out and drink my own bodyweight in Bud every night (again).

Cheers

Simon

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8 Responses to “Great software day”

  1. Biggus Dickus Says:

    “Biggus Dickus makes me go out and drink my own bodyweight in Bud every night (again).”

    That’s because the beer is like water and it takes that much to get a buzz on……

    Dick

  2. Ross Says:

    “I plan to do a series of posts ‘from VBA to xll’ over the coming weeks, probably using VS2005 targeting Excel 97-2007 rather than 2007 specific, what do you reckon?”

    Excellent idea!

    Does bud even count as beer?

  3. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    Simon,

    The Resolver utility looks interesting so when You feel for it please make a blogpost of it.

    As for XLL’s series I believe You can skip 97.

    TIA,
    Dennis

  4. Simon Says:

    Dennis is more of a full blown app than a utility, it should be able to replace some spreadsheets completely.
    For xlls there are 2 options
    Excel4 – xl97-2007
    Excel12 – xl2k7 only
    Prior to the new stuff released this week, the SDK was stuck at 97, it has never been updated for 2k, 2k2 or 2k3. Which is why the new SDK is a big deal- its like it got rescued from the VB6 file (you know the round one marked ‘bin’).
    Ross whats your idea of beer? Bishops finger?

  5. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    “…the SDK was stuck at 97, it has never been updated for 2k, 2k2 or 2k3.”

    I know as I have the book 97 SDK (which has been out of print for many years now). What I meant was that the series “from VBA to xll” should focus on 2007 and not 97-2007.

    I assume that MSFT will not make the SDK available in book form.

    On the other hand Dalton’s 2nd edition of his book is available:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Financial-Applications-Using-Excel-Development/dp/0470027975/ref=sr_1_2/202-8386352-3083865?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1189692679&sr=1-2

    But my favourite tool – Add-In Express .NET now also include a simplified process to create XLLs with (it’s in the beta stage). I know there exist other tools as well but they are (very) expensive.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  6. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    Hm, I wrote a comment and it went somewhere else then here…
    SDK 97 – Yeah, I know that as I got the book (which has been out of print for many years). What I meant was to suggest that Your planned series “VBA to XLLs” should only cover 2007.

  7. Simon Says:

    Dennis
    I found your post in the spam bin – akismet is being very aggressive at the moment, don’t know why.

  8. Giles Says:

    Simon,

    Here’s a two-sentence description of Resolver One: it’s a tool to raise the bar for what expert spreadsheet users can do, by integrating the implicit computer program you create in the grid with the explicit program you create by writing your own code. A bit like Dreamweaver, but for spreadsheets instead Web pages.

    Any and all suggestions on improving that gratefully received :-)

    A better description of it is something we posted on our website yesterday – a light-hearted screencast showing it off. You might find it amusing… http://www.resolversystems.com/screencasts/

    Cheers,

    Giles

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