Universal apps

Sunday, 26th November, 2017

That don’t include Office? What sort of universe is that? not any business universe that I have been in.

“Start building Universal Windows Platform apps”

That was the tag line from the MS Visual Studio site.

I finally managed to get their virtual machine working (it’s 40 Gb fully expanded, not 20). It has Visual Studio alright, but no Office. I am amazed that MS do not see Office as a development target, or at least not enough to put a copy on their development trial virtual machine. unbelievable.

I might chuck a 30 day Office 2010 trial on it, I think I have one on a pen drive somewhere. All the other stuff needs an MS account, which is just too much like going back in time.

In other news Android studio 3.0 is just out, with Kotlin as a first class language. All free, and easily accessible.

Anyone else had a play with the MS dev vm I mentioned a few days ago?

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Well that was underwhelming

Saturday, 25th November, 2017

 

Bothered my arse to download their 20 gigs of pap, and lo it doesn’t work.

Unfortunately I have hit my buggering around limit now so the only outcome I can note is that I tried their Win 10 dev environment and it didn’t work. It was shit in fact. waste of my time. I’d like tuppence back for my bandwidth please…

I accept I have probably done something wrong but I didn’t see any instructions to ignore.

It’s now stuck on ‘importing windev eval’ been there for two hours. A fail.

 

Cutting Excel out of your process

Thursday, 23rd November, 2017

Some CFOs keen to see the end of Excel.

Why don’t these people understand? Excessive Excel is a symptom of crap systems. Normally caused by decades of underinvestment in IT and piss poor IT McMissManagement.

They made a cynical strategic decision to cut investment in IT and let end user ad-hoc analysis take up the slack. Now they want to eradicate (well hide) the symptom (well evidence).

And should the systems eventually catch up with requirements (even a little bit), those users have so little confidence in IT after decades of under delivery, and unreliability that they will continue to prefer their existing proven approach. surprisingly! (Thats assuming they are ever allowed sufficient access to do their job of course).

Anyone who thinks outsourcing and offshoring your IT will help this Excel eradication process, is a dumbarse. Not quite as dumb as the people who think the solution is a crack team of overpriced under-experienced fresh graduates posing as consultants, but nearly.

The obvious solution is a big integrated system, like say SAP. A couple of spotty yoofs should be able to get that up and running in a few weeks and it will solve everything. Even cheaper – get someone in a different timezone to do it. I would do it for them but I am tidying my sock drawer that day.

Its not a technology thing, putting your shitty inadequate systems in the cloud just make them less secure, and more available. And who needs more availability of crap data and irrelevant analysis?

The actual solution is a minimum of 10 years of high quality IT management to implement fit for purpose systems. So start today and in 2027 you will be sorted, call it 2028 to give you a few months to recruit that high quality management.

Free Win 10 Developer virtual machine

Tuesday, 21st November, 2017

Our good friends at Microsoft are giving away time limited virtual machines with Win 10 and VS2017 on board. They expire mid Jan so don’t get locked out.

Its for developers to get up to speed with the latest and greatest. However there is no mention of full fat Office. So I guess its not for ALL developers. Unless its a given that developers need a proper office suite not a mickey mouse online one.

I’ll download it and take a proper look as soon as I find a device with 20 gigs of free space. If you look first let us know if it has proper Office with VBA (If so I might delete a load of shite off here to get it up and running)

cheers

VBA third most hated language

Thursday, 2nd November, 2017

amongst Stack Overflow devs anyway…

On SO devs can mention tech they would rather avoid. Perl was top at being avoid worthy, then Delphi (is that even still alive??) followed closely by our own VBA.

This is developers so its not really a surprise they prefer to avoid VBA. They want to be playing with new shit not adding business value.

Interestingly SO reported that VBA is still an actively tagged language so still popular in use, just not by devs.

In fact, of those languages disliked by over 3% of mentions, VBA is the only one not shrinking in tag mentions, in fact its growing slightly.

VBA course hosting

Friday, 27th October, 2017

I think I might have mentioned that I am thinking of making an online video VBA course?

Well anyway, I haven’t exactly finished the content yet…

But I have been poking around for a ‘platform’.

I was initially thinking of Udemy, and I still might go that way initially, but I have heard a few not so positive things about them from an instructor POV. Although I am not sure if that is all old stuff or recent.

Cost wise I imagine the course being around 50 quid/dollars/francs.

I had a look at this place and they have that price as an example.

If the student pays 50 quid the instructor can get as little as 3.15!!!!!

That is the content creator, the author, gets just over 5% of the price the student pays!!

I just can’t quite believe it!

I think I might look into creating a ‘platform’ instead. Its only hosting with a few bells and whistles, most of which I won’t use.

Maybe I’ll have to do youtube with ads after all.

Some Blog stats

Saturday, 7th October, 2017

Here are the top 10 or so pages on this blog over the last 10 years. Not perfect as some of these have probably been here for 10 years, some might be merely months old.

But still the focus on 2007 errors makes me laugh. Maybe I didn’t post much about 2010 errors (2003, as we know didn’t have any (ha ha)).

In fairness 2010 was much better than 2007 in almost every way. Well, except dev tools maybe (the bit we looked at ironically).

Home page / Archives 171,829
Excel 2007 workbook window not visible 75,716
Excel 2007 Error: Link source not found 15,901
R1C1 notation 13,728
The spreadsheet disadvantage 12,988
Excel 2007 screen lock up 10,373
Code execution has been interrupted 10,280
Excel 2007 =#N/A error 9,550
xlls With ExcelDNA 7,530
Excel 2007 screen / video issues 6,290

Delighted to see ExcelDNA in there too, it is an excellent tool.

And lo, what’s that? a spreadsheet quality post in the mix? Methinks a far sighted undergrad course may have pointed the students towards some research into the disadvantages of using spreadsheets (for everything).

I never started SOS to get big viewer numbers, I wanted to have a conversation about more advanced Excel development related topics. Somewhere where XLM would not be auto ‘corrected’ to XML, somewhere we could discuss the merits of the C API v the COM interface, or the merits of manual calc v auto calc without drowning in ‘my Excel stopped adding up’ cries.

I have always resisted going for the bulk beginner audience here. But I am contemplating developing a beginner level VBA course at the moment, so may have to revisit that. Although I would probs set up yet another blog I think.

So anyway there you go, at least 75,000 people came here because they could not find their Excel 2007 workbook window.

as expected

Saturday, 30th September, 2017


and the actual message:

1,000 posts, 10 years (and VBA still going strong).

Is VBA a dead end ?

Thursday, 28th September, 2017

This topic came up on Excel-l, I got shouted down on there, so I thought I would elaborate on my views here. (its mainly an Excel view but I don’t think the other MS Office apps are much different.)

I see two sides to the VBA story – the technology and the career.

Technology wise a VBA solution is a dead end – it can’t be run on a server (officially), it can’t be run in a browser, it can’t be run in a high performance cluster, it can’t be run on mobile devices. This means it can’t be easily scaled if more users or geographies must be served. You can’t really even have multiple simultaneous users of an Excel VBA app. With the relentless march to cloud and mobile, VBA is left behind.

Of course MS won’t remove support for VBA, the world would fall apart, well the finance, pharma, and energy industries at a minimum. But the editor is pitiful by the standards of this century. It is testament to the work of those MS guys in the ’90’s that the debug Edit/continue is still better than nearly all mainstream IDEs. But its still out of date and hard to extend.

MS can’t invest in VBA because their strategy is .net/cloud/browser blah blah. They had the chance to fight on their strengths – rich client, but instead they tried to be google. And lost. Now we are all struggling with crap web sites in bloated browsers with slow Win3.11 style interactions from 1995.

VBA hasn’t suddenly become bad, its still very good at what it does, its just that we are often now looking for more from our solutions. More users, more device types, more threads, more whatever.

So its not dead but it is basically limited to single user apps on their individual workstations. But I am sure it will continue to work for a long time.

From a career point of view, what else is like VBA? nothing really, so expertise in VBA doesn’t easily lead onto anything else, hence its a bit of a dead end.

VBA is not really object oriented so it doesn’t lead to the sort of object based designs that C# and Java are suitable for. Its not functional so it doesn’t lead to F#/Scala.

Of course you can write VBA in classes, but lack of implementation inheritance hobbles your solution. By the same token you can write VB style ad-hoc procedural code in C#/VB.net, but you would be missing out on many of the elegant OO features of .net. You would struggle to implement most modern design patterns in VBA, and the latest CV must-have MVC is also all but impossible.

From a functional point of view (probably more useful than OO these days) VBA can’t treat functions as data smoothly (although CallByName does better than many languages). And a little toot of Application.Run can ease the friction too.

In Excel VBA especially we can get an awful long way without worrying about user interface/user experience or data structure. This is great for your current users (fast development/deployment) not so good for your career development – no other system is so well integrated as Excel/VBA. No worrying about Restful APIs, onClickListeners, Asynchronous callbacks, all very powerful, all generally avoided in VBA land.

If you love VBA, and why not, then continue on, you are probably adding untold business value with the work you are doing (and perhaps a little future maintenance pressure for someone). But I’m not sure it will take your development career too far, business career possibly but IMO it won’t help you much as a developer.

If you are doing VBA now and thinking of progressing to other development technologies then consider carefully how you will make your next steps. Adding Access and SQL to VBA is completely doable, adding modern scripting, web technologies or .net/Java is much tougher.

Getting into .net via VB.net is a possibility, but, I think it would be easier to go straight to C#, although the .net/Excel story is still, in 2017 very ugly.

ExcelDNA might be a good bet if you want to inject a bit of .net into your Excel life. I found this approach much more viable than VSTO infrastructure hell. Somebody somewhere is maintaining a lot of both that I developed. I bet the ExcelDNA maintainer is having more fun.

I also managed to blag my way into writing a load of custom Java on Essbase, that route probably isn’t open for many though.

Which led to my new focus on Android which is both challenging and rewarding. Although stay posted for news on that…

btw this is my 1,000th post on SOS, I assume WordPress will give me some superficial badge of honour, reward or ‘achievement unlocked’ bollocks, in the modern way.

cheers

simon

 

Job hunt

Wednesday, 20th September, 2017

I’m back on the hunt for a contract.

Looking for easy work, high pay, and ability to work from home in my pyjamas.

I am just caught mid hop really, my Android mastery has not quite reached the level to dazzle, and my Excel/VBA/trading experience is starting to look a little distant.

That said I do have a few mini projects on the go both in VBA and Android, but a big juicy contract would be handy enough too

I am pimping myself out on all the usual job sites and I have noticed a pattern.

An agency posts a job, I apply with my cv, and then… tumbleweed.

This is not new of course, and perhaps my ‘varied’ cv is not what they are looking for but…

A couple of agents did get back to me either with a no thanks or a discussion or whatever. And you know what?

The next time a role comes on with multiple agencies, I apply to the ones that bothered their arse to get back to me. Those tumbleweed guys? I don’t bother.

So pimps of the world, if you can’t even be arsed to ping back a quick no thanks to your applicants, you may be losing out on candidates in the future. just sayin.