Tech investments

Another MM question:

“Will ExcelDNA in C# replace xlls in C/C++? C/C++ much faster? Wondering if I should invest time in C++.”

I don’t know about ExcelDNA performance, anyone else?

Here is my view on investments:

IMO C/C++ still has some legs.
If O2007 had had a better .net udf story then I would have said don’t bother with C/C++.
But thats not happened is it?
They updated the C/C++ xll SDK instead.
I read that as the Excel team are still committed to C/C++ for udfs.
Office 14 or 15 or 16?? might change things, but those are going to be mainstream 5+ years away. This is way too early to be investing in what may or may not be in those products I reckon. .net’s replacement might be out by then!

If you learn basic C and the xll interface you can use those skills today (in Excel dev mainly) and onwards for at least 10 years (Excel 97 still in use in 2008). If .net becomes a better option picking that up will be trivial (after the pain of the C API ;-) )

If you invest now in .net skills you need a third party tool to convert that knowledge into performant udfs. If you can deploy the all prerequisites in your environment, and you have other uses for .net skills then fair enough. .net and VSTO are clearly a major part of the future of Office development, as well as much other Windows dev work.

The reality of software dev is that you are always going to be learning, always investing, and payback can be fast, slow, direct or indirect, and occasionally never.

.net has more general applicability, C has a key role in advanced Excel development in all current versions.

What does everyone else think?

cheers

Simon

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2 Responses to “Tech investments”

  1. Marcus Says:

    I’d probably add that XLL’s longevity will be impacted by one variable which also impacts VBA’s: the owners of existing XLL code (whether in-house developed or 3rd party) will be reluctant to discard their investment for as long as possible. As you’ve mentioned Simon, MS’s update of the C++ SDK shows there’s life in the ol’ girl yet.

    Having said that, I’d counter with the observation that XLL development is still a very niche area. What would be the ratio of VBA/VB COM to XLL developers? Jobserve currently lists 266 VBA roles in London (contract & perm) against 2 which ask for XLL development skills. It then comes down to a personal assessment of your current skills and work aspirations to determine whether the ROI on building XLL development skills is worth the investment.

    Cheers – Marcus

  2. ross Says:

    Good question.
    About 6 months ago, I spent about 2 days looking at C & XLL’s. I reckon that i could write a simple XLL now in an hour or so if I needed to, and a more complex one in a day or 2 if I needed. So for me that’s enough.

    Now I’m looking at .Net as much as possible, becasue I can do so much more in much less time, and it’s a lot more fun. – although depolying what you have develpoed is a lot less fun!

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