Excel Javascript UDFs

“Office developers have been wanting to write JavaScript custom functions for many reasons,” Microsoft says,

My Arse!

I remain sceptical of the whole webbification of Excel. It started with the Toytown UI in 2007 and just keeps going downhill.

MS have been trying to tempt mainstream developers to Excel forever, and have completely consistently completely and utterly failed. I doubt chucking a bit of javascript at it will have web devs thronging in either.

Here is a fact:

Office development is just not ‘sexy’.

‘sexy’ is pointless navel gazing arguing about ‘is a’ v ‘has a’ (inheritance v composition)

‘sexy’ is arguing whether your new pointless feature should be a property or a method, and then arguing about whether to put it in a concrete class or create a new abstract base class to inherit from so you can also tick the polymorphic box in your 60 line sort routine. (don’t even think about range.sort – are you mad??)

getting the work done quickly with no drama is just not, not now, not ever again seemingly, ‘sexy’.

It used to be appealing, now? not so much.

It might be that some Excel devs do see value in js, I think a genuine focus on a more mainstream language (than VBA) could be useful. I think friction free access to the whole web infrastructure could be good (web queries are excellent, as far as they go). Python would be more use than javascript I think.

So, No I do not believe for one second that ‘Office developers have been wanting to write JavaScript’.

But Microsoft consistently misses the mark  – they need to target existing Office devs and give them what they actually want, not web devs and not Visual Studio devs. Whatever happened to VSTA? does VSTO still exist?

I’m not totally ranting here, when I was on the Office Developer Advisory Panel for Office 2010 we said exactly this – give us a decent IDE. what did we get? the Toytown UI! They eventually disbanded the panel, probably cos they were sick of all the greybeards refusing to sing from the koolaid hymn sheet.

If there was a decent IDE for Office development every aspect would improve, regardless of the language (even brainfuck or fetlang!).

But Microsoft don’t want to give Office developers what they want, they want Office developers to want whatever shallow gimmick Microsoft wants to play with this week. Which hasn’t been pragmatic, getting the job done stuff, or respect for old/working stuff since the MSDN generation took over from the Raymond Chen school of thought over a decade ago.

Probably… I do most of my spreadsheeting in LibreOffice these days, and developing in IntelliJ, so what do I know!

5 Responses to “Excel Javascript UDFs”

  1. fastexcel Says:

    There is actually some quite good stuff in the JS UDFs – synchronous USFS use the inproc javascript interpreter for instance. Perf is suppodsed to be good but I have not tested it yet.

  2. Simon Says:

    I’m sure you are right Charles.
    But I still can’t help wishing they had updated the VBAIDE instead, or updated and extended the C API, and simplified .net access to it. Excel DNA is brilliant, truly brilliant, but why didn’t MS either create it or support it?
    They are obsessed with ramming pointless web shit into their flagship single user desktop analysis suite. Its beyond ridiculous. It is the perfect example of everything that has been wrong with MS for the last 15 years, and a clear demonstration they still do not understand their users. at all.

  3. fastexcel Says:

    The thinking is that you need an Excel scripting language that works on all endpoints – so MS picked the Javascript webby thing and then prioritise API object model calls that run on all end-points. Of course this has the disadvantage that it does not work well on the desktop (which is where 90% of the scripting takes place) …

  4. Yury Suturin Says:

    What about RubberduckVBA – have you used it?

  5. Simon Says:

    Hi Yury
    Yes I have used it, I want to love it, it does do some good stuff. but the last time it suddenly started deleting each character as I typed it. I had a deadline so I disabled it and never got around to looking into it more.
    I should get it working again and do a proper review…

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