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Professional Excel Development: The Definitive Guide to Developing Applications Using Microsoft Excel, VBA, and .NET (2nd Edition) Paperback – May 6 2009
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From the Back Cover
“As Excel applications become more complex and the Windows development platform more powerful, Excel developers need books like this to help them evolve their solutions to the next level of sophistication.Professional Excel Developmentis a book for developers who want to build powerful, state-of-the-art Excel applications using the latest Microsoft technologies.
-Gabhan Berry, Program Manager, Excel Programmability, Microsoft
“The first edition ofProfessional Excel Developmentis my most-consulted and most-recommended book on Office development. The second edition expands both the depth and range. It shines because it takes every issue one step further than you expect. The book relies on the authors' current, real-world experience to cover not only how a feature works, but also the practical implications of using it in professional work.
-Shauna Kelly, Director, Thendara Green
“This book illustrates techniques that will result in well-designed, robust, and maintainable Excel-based applications. The authors' advice comes from decades of solid experience of designing and building applications. The practicality of the methods is well illustrated by the example timesheet application that is developed step-by-step through the book. Every serious Excel developer should read this and learn from it. I did.
-Bill Manville, Application Developer, Bill Manville Associates
The Start-to-Finish Guide to Building State-of-the-Art Solutions with Excel 2007
In this book, four world-class Microsoft® Excel developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors—three of whom have been honored by Microsoft as Excel Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs)—show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's most powerful new features. Using their techniques,you can reduce development costs, time to market, and hassle—andbuild more effective, successful solutions.
Fully updated for Excel 2007, this book starts where other books on Excel programming leave off. Through a hands-on case study project, you'll discover best practices for planning, architecting, and building Excel applications that are robust, secure, easy to maintain, and highly usable. If you're a working developer, no other book on Excel programming offers you this much depth, insight, or value.
• Design worksheets that will be more useful and reliable
• Leverage built-in and application-specific add-ins
• Construct applications that behave like independent Windows programs
• Make the most of the new Ribbon user interface
• Create cross-version applications that work with legacy versions of Excel
• Utilize XML within Excel applications
• Understand and use Windows API calls
• Master VBA error handling, debugging, and performance optimization
• Develop applications based on data stored in Access, SQL Server, and other databases
• Build powerful visualization solutions with Excel charting engine
• Learn how to work with VB.NET and leverage its IDE
• Automate Microsoft Excel with VB.NET
• Create managed COM add-ins for Microsoft Excel with VB.NET
• Develop Excel solutions with Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO)
• Integrate Excel with Web Services
• Deploy applications more securely and efficiently
About the Author
Rob Bovey, President of Application Professionals, has developed several Excel add-ins shipped by Microsoft. He coauthored the Microsoft Excel 97 Developers Kit and Excel 2007 VBA Programmer’s Reference.
Dennis Wallentin has developed Excel solutions since the 1980s through his firm, XL-Dennis, based in Östersund, Sweden.
Stephen Bullen, coauthor of The Excel 2007 VBA Programmer’s Reference, owns Office Automation, Ltd., based in Essex, Ireland.
John Green owns Execuplan Consulting, a Sydney, Australia-based consultancy specializing in Excel and Access development.
Bovey, Bullen, and Green hold Microsoft’s prestigious Most Valuable Professional (MVP) honor.
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First, the section on Excel "dictator" apps does not go into the requirements for Excel 2007, except to mention that you'll need to look at the chapter on the ribbon. But that isn't why I'm writing this review.
I wanted to position a form next to a worksheet cell, and on pages 400-402, they say that trying to do that using the cell's Top and Left properties is "extremely difficult", and then say that "Fortunately, there is an easier workaround, which is to use the window that Excel uses for editing embedded charts."
Their workaround code uses Windows APIs. That's no problem, but it's interesting that with a solution apparently available that would probably work on both Windows and Mac (using the cell's Top and Left properties), they show only an easier solution that works only for Windows. No mention of Mac there.
Anyway, I typed in their code, and it didn't work. I carefully checked every character and didn't see any differences. On a hunch, I closed the workbook and opened it in Excel 2003. This time it worked correctly.
I had originally tried it in Excel 2010 (32-bit), and this book was published in 2009, so I tried it in Excel 2007. It still didn't work.
So I started Spy++, hoping that the special window was just renamed in Excel 2007/2010 and/or in a different place in the window hierarchy, which would be easy to work around. No such luck. Using Spy++, I found the special window in Excel 2003, and then looked for it in Excel 2007. The special window they use is not created in Excel 2007 anywhere in the window hierarchy, and in fact no additional window is created at all by those steps.
So this easier solution works only for Excel 2003 for Windows and earlier. The book was published in 2009. Where's the "extremely difficult" solution that works in Excel 2007? You won't find it in this 2009 book, nor any mention of the fact that this "easier" solution does not work in Excel 2007.
I guess I'll have to look elsewhere for the "extremely difficult" solution.
This book is special for 3 reasons:
1) Practicality of advanced topics:
As a power-user, when was the last time you found yourself seriously looking at c programming, ADO, and SQL? The authors give us real life uses for these sorts of things, in a very focused manner. You walk away with an excellent understanding of why and when to use these things (notice I didn't say thorough understanding. The authors wisely admit that's someone else job, and point you in the right direction), based on what you're trying to accomplish.
2) Relevance of good programming practices:
Most books on programming teach "good programming practice" as if you are going to be working in an enterprise environment, with a team of engineers and professors. That's fine but in reality power-users work under deadlines and completely alone. No one cares how well you comment your code. As long as the thing works, when you want it too, then you've programmed enough. The authors explain a concept called "Interfacing" in a way that makes "good programming" a very practical time investment. I know "Interfacing" is not a new concept (as none of the topics in this book are). Its all in how the authors connect the dots. The relationship of concepts is far more important than the concept itself.
3) You want to know more:
Usually that's a bad thing, but not in this case because you know why. 90% of technical authors write some form of a dictionary, sprinkled with examples. But the end goal of a program is automation (or at least it should be), whether its iTunes or VBA. Take a repetitious task and automate it. Power-users don't have the luxury of slogging through a dictionary. If I spend time learning an advanced technical topic, there must be clear, reasonably obtainable objectives. The authors accomplish this by a lot. This is a tech book that really sheds light on the usefulness of all those seemingly unuseful-to-you type topics that have spawned so many 1300 page books.
If you've hung with me this far, you might have noticed I don't talk about Excel. That's because this book really isn't about Excel. Excel acts mostly as a cloths-line, linking various topics, methods, and recommendations. The authors tell us at the beginning, Excel is an excellent platform for fast application development and prototyping. THAT's really what the book is about.
It's too bad books aren't written this way more often. Hope this review was helpful
Then I flipped to Chapter 15 "VBA Error Handling" and I again realized it was time for another quantum leap. I am almost done with that work, and my client has commented how my application has suddenly felt more "stable" and "mature". There are a couple of things lacking in Chapter 15 but it's still extremely useful.
' Concepts I would Like to Hear More About
1) The concept of "rethrow" error handling for functions is begun, but not followed up by any examples of good error handling for functions that need to return specific values (not error handling booleans).
2) I would also like a discussion of hybrid use of the "rethrow" and the "function return value" methods and/or a full example of a robust method that covers the details of entry points, subroutines and functions.
3) It is not clear whether or not command buttons on forms are entry points (i.e. events they trigger like "sub cmdSort_Click()"). The book states that every user-initiated action is an entry point including events, but I don't think they treated this case fully. For instance, if my form contains the buttons "Sort", "OK", and "Cancel". The book shows what to do with the cancel, but not whether the user clicking on "Sort" constitutes an entry point within an entry point and how to error-handle that.
The book will improve your skills dramatically.
It also comes with a CD containing all the code samples plus some useful tools for tidying up and managing your code.
Feel your income potential rise.
This book doesn't waste time covering beginning areas that a professional developer should know. The book spends almost all the time discussing intermediate and advanced topics. There are plenty of code examples in the book that helps understand the concepts being presented.
The chapters covering best practices are good. It is interesting to hear professionals share their knowledge and expertise on what they consider the best way to do something. Don't have to always agree or implement their concepts, but to get professional points of view over a subject, is helpful. This is an excellent book to have on a bookshelf.
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