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July 22, 2002

Getting More Out of Microsoft's Formidable Spreadsheet Program: O'Reilly Release Second Edition of "Writing Excel Macros with VBA"

Sebastopol, CA--Microsoft Excel is a surprisingly flexible application. But despite its powerful feature set, for most people the power of Excel goes largely untapped. "Much of the power of Excel is 'under the hood.' There is a great deal that Excel either does not allow you to do or does not allow you to do easily through its user interface," comments Steven Roman, who authored the new edition of Writing Excel Macros with VBA (O'Reilly, US $34.95). With the recent release of Excel 10, also known as "Excel XP," Roman updated this popular book, which enables users to custom program Excel using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

"Writing Excel Macros with VBA" is primarily for Excel users who are not programmers but would like to be--those people who "have begun to appreciate the power of Excel and want to take advantage of its more advanced features or just accomplish tasks more easily," Roman says. The book offers a solid introduction to VBA, Microsoft's easy-to-learn programming environment that lets users choose and modify pre-selected sections of code with a graphical user interface, and introduces the Excel object model, the means by which Excel can be controlled programmatically. Programmers not familiar with this object model will find the book to be a useful primer.

Roman, a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the California State University, Fullerton, with more than 30 books to his credit, offers a concise, straightforward tutorial--peppered by interesting and useful examples to solve common problems--that enables readers to "ferret out the facts" without much handholding. The book moves at a relatively rapid pace from general introduction to programming, beginning with information on the Visual Basic Editor and the Excel VBA programming environment, which features a complete, state-of-the-art integrated development environment for writing, running, testing, and debugging VBA macros.

"Given the enormity of the subject, not everything is covered, nor should it be," Roman says. "The goal here is to acquaint readers with the main points of Excel programming, enough so that they can continue their education on their own."

Once readers have finished the book, Roman insists, they will know enough about Excel VBA to begin creating effective working programs. With "Writing Excel Macros with VBA," power users can take a close look at the object model to determine which elements of Excel--workbooks, worksheets, charts and cells among them--are accessible through code, and how they can be controlled programmatically. The object model for Excel XP has 37 new objects, or nearly 200 altogether, but Excel power users need to be familiar with only a handful of them to write effective macros. Roman covers these essential objects and includes a discussion of many more objects as well. The new edition also includes a chapter on "Smart Tags," a notable feature Microsoft introduced with Excel XP.

"Writing Excel Macros with VBA" is for advanced Excel users who want to "get more power out of this formidable application" and achieve maximum control and flexibility, Roman says.

Additional Resources:

Writing Excel Macros with VBA, 2nd Edition
By Steven Roman
ISBN 0-596-00359-5, 560 pages, $34.95 (US) $54.95 (CAN)
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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