Archive for the ‘VSTO’ Category

Office 2019 released

Tuesday, 25th September, 2018

Does anyone care?

It sounds like it is pretty much just a freeze of the current Office 365.

Which as we know contains xlSlow, so I assume that’s not getting its performance fixed, ever.

Has anyone got it?

Is it any good?

I only just picked up a cheap 2016, so I can’t see me ‘upgrading’ to 2019 any time soon, if ever.

I’m doing a lot of SQL Server at the moment which is a nice change, and SSIS, which is less nice. But still better than the Access I was doing. I like the Access visual designer (a bit), but the rubbish SQL editor is frustrating. In the end I had all the SQL in notepad++ (colour coded key words, indenting and new lines (MS Access team take note – how hard can it be?). And looking at the visual designer for the joins. Not a bad way of working actually…

And I have been messing with RubberduckVBA, it seems that’s currently the best way to indent other peoples shitty VBA, to make it at least semi-readable. (Smart Indenter seems to be pining for the fjords with a combo of lack of VB6 love at MS and increased ‘security’.). (I am sure I used to have a VBA version of that somewhere).

Anyway, another shout out for the developExcel conf in a few weeks. I have been busy messing with VSTO and Addin Express in preparation. It looks like there are going to be quite a few of us (100 ish I believe).

Rach from the 2013 conf

said she would come if her sock drawer was in order.

cheers

simon

 

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Excel Developer Conference 18th October 2018 London

Monday, 23rd July, 2018

Woo Hoo

There is going to be a major, major Excel extensibility conference in that London on 18th October 2018. This is THE big one. All the big guns from the main Excel extensibility tools and frameworks are going to be there speaking.

There will no better time in your lifetime to hear from the horses mouth the how and why of ExcelDNA, PyXLL, XLL + and the new Excel javascript APIs. Also sessions covering Power Query and VSTO and Add-in Express.

This is a community driven event, driven by a desire to get the top minds in the Excel extensibility space together.

The Date? Thursday 18th October 2018

The Location? Microsoft Reactor, 70 Wilson St, London EC2A 2DB

More info here

Bookings here

See you there…

(please reblog… and if you do, and you are coming, let us know we will link to you on the sponsors page for helping to spread the word.)

cheers

simon

Visual Studio

Saturday, 26th May, 2012

I see MS have detailed their new plans for the latest releases of Visual Studio 11.

The Express editions of VS11 will only be able to create Metro apps. This is about as opposite as you can get from what most of us were hoping : that Express 11 would include VSTO. Rather than beef up the features of the free IDE they have kneecapped it in a rather desperate looking attempt to get devs to target Metro. Express 2010 will still be available for a while so its not the end of the world, but it doesnt look great for VSTO etc.

In fact Office dev is barely mentioned in all the bumf.

On a separate note I actually spoke to a pimp (agent) about a VSTO role this very week. I never heard back after I told him my rate! He did say most of the other applicants had only dabbled with it and there weren’t many of us with real world commercial experience. I guess the client went with one of those cheaper neewbs. I hope the deployment goes well for them ;-).

I have long since doubted Microsofts commitment to Office development (from around the time they disbanded the Office Developer Advisory Council ;-)). But everything I read seems to confirm that I made the right choice to de-emphasise it. Indeed I haven’t seen anything for a long time that would give me any doubts about my decision to de-emphasise Microsoft altogether.

cheers

simon

 

Last few hours of conference discount

Friday, 6th January, 2012

The Early bird discount for the 2012 Excel Developer conference expires tonight at midnight (ish). (European time, CET not GMT) (11pm for the Brits).

Please visit the booking page here ASAP and get yourself booked on.

After tonight, the price goes up to 250 GBP, still a staggering bargain actually.

Hope to see you there,

cheers

Simon

UK Excel dev conf date sorted

Wednesday, 30th November, 2011

I have booked a venue for our event so now have time and place.

All info here.

I will sort out a booking method over the weekend and put up a link.

cheers

simon

Excel Developer Conference London Jan 2012

Thursday, 3rd November, 2011

Well folks there has been a really positive response so we are game on for an event towards the end of Jan in Londonium.

I will sort out a more detailed draft agenda as things settle down with the speakers, but to give you some idea…

The following topic areas are likely to make it into the agenda

  • Excel Business Intelligence
  • PowerPivot and DAX
  • Migrating from VBA to ExcelDNA with VB.net
  • Aerobics
  • Effective Excel Add-ins with VSTO
  • Technology independent software development
  • Beer and chips (and gravy)
  • Practical advice on commercialising your add-ins/workbooks.
  • Various approaches to XLL development
  • Hairdressing
  • Excel and XML
  • Chess boxing
  • Quick tips for effective VBA use.
  • Programming paradigms and how they can help or hinder, a history lesson
  • My snowboarding holiday
  • A smart way to build spreadsheets
  • Beer
  • Curry

I am hoping the broad agenda will attract a diverse set of delegates…

Please start spreading the word: UK Excel conference Jan 2012 London…

I still need to sort a venue, but I am aiming for one day the week ending Fri 27th, probably the Tue or Wed.

Our friends at Microsoft have generously donated some gifts which we will give away on the day in return for cleverest question, dumbest question, nicest biscuits, most beer drunk, that sort of thing.

This event is specifically targeted at the more technical audience. The plan is to have a follow up event in July in Madchester. That event will be more user oriented and less developer oriented.

If you have any other suggestions for topics please let us know below.

cheers

simon

Smurf on 2011

Saturday, 1st January, 2011

My 2010 predictions were a little tame I think, so I’m going to go more out on a limb this time around. I’ve covered a broader area this time too. I normally limit myself to spreadsheets and software, I’ve had a pop at some more general stuff this time.

IT Market

  1. Google will overtake Microsoft in market capitalisation (190 v 240 currently)
  2. MS won’t bid for Adobe.
  3. MS is fading fast as a general brand, especially with consumers, this will continue and probably accelerate
  4. Apple will pick up most of that consumer mind share in computing and software.
  5. I think someone might bid for HP this year, possibly Oracle if they can digest Sun in time. I don’t see too much anti competitive hassle from this and Larry has been softening them up with body blows for a few months
  6. Yahoo will surely disappear, I’m not sure how they survived this long
  7. Once people get bored of facebooking about facebook surely it will do a myspace?
  8. Linux won’t do much in 2011, I really thought netbooks would do it 2009/2010, but I was wrong. I don’t see a better chance in 2011. Tablets? I’m not convinced this time around.

Software

  1. Phone and tablet software will be massive in consumerland. iOS and Android (and Blackberry), not Windows phone.
  2. PC consumer software will be a non story (in the general media)
  3. MS Office is in a death spin where no one understands the value it can generate so no one invests so no one discovers. MS will continue to fail dismally to market Office. They will cut marketing spend so they will send less of the wrong messages to the wrong people.
  4. Quite a few corps will start to migrate to O2010 in 2011 as many skipped 2007 and 2003 will be 2 years out of mainstream support. They won’t leverage many of the new features though, as its ‘just Office’ not an integrated part of strategic IT infrastructure like it should be. (message/people…)
  5. I think Windows 7 may be due for deployment in a lots of companies too.

Office development

  1. We will still be undervalued.
  2. We will still be loved by users and loathed by IT, who will continue to prevent us from using the best tools for the job.
  3. Office will continue to be userland so VBA still key, although job ads will request a knowledge of C#, but then not let you have Visual Studio.
  4. Microsoft will still not have a plausible .net/Excel development story. VSTO isn’t it
  5. .net developers will continue to abuse Excel as they don’t understand the object model or native code.
  6. Access will still be looked down on as a zero credibility toy – an image which hampers SharePoint uptake as Access is a million times better for managing lists than the 1970’s web UI. I’m currently calling my Access development Jet development to avoid raising the Access Alert.
  7. Office 15 Beta 1 will probably make it out of the door before the end of the year. Expect the ribbon to be nearly as good as 2003 toolbars, lots of unusable lock-in to server components that corps won’t deploy. Beefed up power features like cluster udfs in 2010 (perhaps performant .net udfs???). More eye candy cabbage/inappropriate intra suite standardisation. Closer Excel/Access integration may be on the cards, even as many corps seek to ban Access altogether, it may cheat death once again.
  8. Plenty more vacuous ‘spreadsheet control’ projects will start in 2011, although most will be tick box half hearted affairs. The crash knocked a bit of the wind out of the compliance gravy train sails. (can I mix methaphors like that?)
  9. there will be plenty of opportunities in financial services for folks with Excel/VBA/business – this market is hotting up after being depressed for 18 months or so – so many devs will have moved on.
  10. LibreOffice will continue where OpenOffice once went as the leading Office competitor, before Oracle alienated the whole dev community. Still won’t be much of a competitor though, sadly. OpenOffice will be gone by the end of 2011 imo, at least ‘gone’ like StarOffice.

General development

  1. Java will lose some light as it has been scuttled by Oracle, I think this will cause more of a general splinter rather than a mass migration to .net for example. Ruby, Python etc will likely be winners on the web/server, but maybe C++ will find some love, it has done with MS in VS2010.
  2. Or maybe there will be an unbreakable Oracle Java?
  3. Silverlight is doomed, so VS2012 might be useable. Silverlight is the Access of UI. MS just don’t know what to do with it. Smart devs will steer clear till they decide. Gone by 2012 imo.
  4. Objective C will probably be a worthwhile skill in 2011 (not a great synergy with VBA though :))
  5. F# will get plenty of buzz, but not a lot of actual traction, just because OO is inappropriate for whole swathes of software doesn’t mean it isn’t deeply engrained (as the ‘correct/best/professional’ way of developing anything)

Hardware

  1. Well derr – tablets will be a big news story in 2010
  2. Netbooks will be replaced by tablets, in news, if not physically.
  3. The march to smartphones will make iPhone/Android/Blackberry development a very viable business model, especially compared to banging your head against the office dev wall.
  4. If the Ubuntu Tablet appears I’ll buy one ASAP.

I try not to be a ‘Microsoft watcher’ blogger partly because lots of people already do that, and partly because its hard to hit the right tone between sycophant (I earn my living in their tech after all) and irrelevant moaner.  But…

Microsoft

  1. MS is in a cost control phase at the moment. That means every investment/spend needs justifying.
  2. Plenty of possibly viable techs have been axed after massive investment over the past few years
  3. some of those have been brave (or mad – depends your pov) decisions
  4. This means very little is unquestionably safe – its perceived cost benefits, financially, ruthlessly.
  5. I think MS have lost the consumer space so they will focus more on the enterprise (which seems to work well for Oracle for example).
  6. Tight Office/.net integration? cost? benefit in increased unit sales income? – unlikely then…
  7. Windows phone? If it goes well in the next 6-12m then maybe, if not its out. Microsoft could exit this whole market with no obvious income loss (short term at least). (imo gone by 2012)
  8. Silverlight? compelling benefits or the next VB script? (imo gone by 2012)
  9. VSTO? essential .net/Office bridge? unfinishable unloved bodge? (imo VSTO will survive for a while as it joins a couple of cash cows)
  10. VBA? trusty workhorse? or poor implementation of a bad design? (imo safe as houses, there will be nothing that could be construed as a hint of retirement plans for this utterly vital (to MS) tech. Unless you take the complete lack of investment and development of the IDE as a hint of future plans of course)
  11. VSTA? remember that? VS editor in Office. Hmmm… I really don’t know if better .net/Office is coming to Office, If you pushed me I would say no, I don’t think O15 will have an integrated C# IDE.

Economics/etc

  1. No double dip recession (if anyone thinks we are out of the last one yet) just a slow (er than reported) creeping recovery.
  2. 2011 will, in line with solar physicist predictions (again), be colder than 2010 by any reasonable measure.
  3. The Urban Heat Island effect will get some attention to try to explain the gaping void between what global warming ‘scientists’ say and what normal people see and feel.
  4. We will see more climate comedy – where a council or org has made a big business decision based on promises of global warming, only to be totally shafted by actual weather. Step forward Geneva canton and Lytham council – both allegedly sold their snow clearing equipment in recent years then struggled last winter and this winter. (could we include Heathrow?)(we can take UK road salt supplies as a consistent snafu.)
  5. Financial market volatility will increase, especially on the down side as algorithmic trading gets more aggressive safety cut outs.
  6. 2011 will be even more fad-tastic than 2010, game shows, reality tv, shit music, phone apps, blankets with sleeves…
  7. No big UK bank failures
  8. Another couple of Euro zone rescue plans will be required, someone might even notice the state of the UK economy.
  9. A Euro will almost certainly be worth more than a pound, although they are both in a race to the bottom at the moment.
  10. More intrusive security pantomime mischief will make air travel even more unpleasant but no more secure.
  11. Did I mention that spreadsheet development will still not be cool?

That’s about it for now, I need to go out mountain biking now the snow has melted. Sorry this is so long!

What do you see as the big news stories of the next 12m?

All the best for 2011

cheers

Simon

Excel VBA .net developer available

Monday, 22nd November, 2010

My current contract is drawing to a close leaving me available for new challenges. A casual scan of this blog and the codematic site should give an idea of the sort of work I do.

In summary: Advanced Excel development with VBA, C# and C++, Relational and OLAP databases

I normally work in and around financial services organisations, most recently commodities trading.

Happy to consider any location and remote work, currently I’m in Geneva. Contract or consulting. Available end Dec/start Jan 2011.

Drop me a line via here.

cheers

Simon

 

Performance

Sunday, 21st November, 2010

In my ADX review I mentioned that the XLL UDF performance was not as good as some other technologies. But I also mentioned that some of the other features probably more than made up for that for many people.

The reality is for Excel/Office development we have a wide range of choices, some Microsoft, some not. Some open source, some commercial.

There is not one single technology that is best at everything. Sorry if you want an easy ‘Excel is the answer, now what’s the question’ (Or VBA etc) type scenario.

I currently have live add-in projects using VB6, VBA, XLM, VSTO, ExcelDNA and XLL+, and raw C, and I guess I have VS2008 and VS2010 C# stuff going on too. And I hope to add ADX to that list soon. Within all of those I would say each one uses the right technology given the requirements. No VB.net – sorry, the improved interop in C# 2010 would put another nail in its coffin – if we could be bothered to dig it up.

The add-in tech choice is not easy, and is possible through something that a few manager types don’t really seem to understand – real world experience. Books and forums can help but its only when you try and deliver real solutions to real users with real needs that you see how the techs really work. For example I moved one of my projects off VSTO because I didn’t need the click-once goodness or the start up delay.

I’ll write more over time on the criteria I have applied when selecting the most appropriate technology, and how to spot when you are going down a dead end and how to swap. I’ll also write more detail on my xll performance tests because I have done a fairy extensive shootout.

Do I have a favourite add-in tech? No, not one, its not that easy. But if performance is critical then you have to use the C API not the automation interface. And if an attractive interface is important then you are going to need something a bit richer than XLM 4.0 dialogs. Then there is the whole pre-requisites excitement…

Do you have an overall favourite add-in tech? What other techs are you working with? Anyone doing any Java/Excel stuff?

cheers

Simon

ExcelDNA is mint

Sunday, 10th October, 2010

I was somewhat despondent recently when I realised my big Excel add-in project was going to need some sort of install.
I had picked up a few dependencies that would not be on non dev boxes so it looked a bit like I was going to need a proper set up. Exactly the sort of thing us Excel types hate.
But then I remembered that ExcelDNA can pack everything into the xll, not just my .dll.
a quick edit of the .dna later:
<DnaLibrary>
<ExternalLibrary Path=”my.dll” Pack=”true” />
<ExternalLibrary Path=”dao.dll” Pack=”true” />
<ExternalLibrary Path=”Interop.ADODB.dll” Pack=”true” />
<ExternalLibrary Path=”Interop.ADOX.dll” Pack=”true” />
<ExternalLibrary Path=”Microsoft.Office.Interop.Excel.dll” Pack=”true” />
<ExternalLibrary Path=”Microsoft.Vbe.Interop.dll” Pack=”true” />
<ExternalLibrary Path=”office.dll” Pack=”true” />
</DnaLibrary>

and we are back to a single xll file deployment. youpeee!

I have the following as a post build event:
C:\…\ExcelDna-0.27\Distribution\ExcelDnaPack.exe “C:\…my.dna” /y

I think ExcelDNA packing is mint.

Are you using ExcelDNA? What for?

(Can you get packing to work??)

cheers

simon