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Re: Spreadsheets, macros, programming, oh my!

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i agree with most of what mr. pixley said in his comments and only add my 1
cent worth...

langhone  "Are most engineers fluent in writing these macro languages?"
pixley  "No, these skills come to bear when the need arises. Also, it tends
to be a skill that gets obsolete quickly (say 6 months)."

da - i would say less than 5% of the active structural designers are using
"these macro languages".  what you are referring to is far larger than a
"macro language", it is visual basic for applications.  it is embedded in
most to all of the microsoft office products.  it is based on object
oriented programming (oop).  by learning vba in excel, you've already
learned most of what you need to know for vba in word, etc.  once you have
that down you can link them all together.  ie - word docs that "drive"
spreadsheets and vice versa

langhone  "I can record them, no problem."

da - note:  there are many ways to get something done in vba.  what gets
recorded in the macros is crude and bulky, but it works.  when you dig down
a little deeper there are much more elegant ways to do the same things.  i
know all of you guys are worried about "elegant computer code" - right?

langhone  "But are more and more people going to be writing mini programs?"
pixley "Probably.  With lots of undocumented enhancements (bugs)"

da - i would say very few are currently writing these programs and that will
probably continue to be the case.  i am constantly amazed how few engineers
want to learn something new after they get their civil degrees.  DON'T FLAME

summary:  i have only written a handful of applications embedded in
spreadsheets but i did enough to realize a few things.

1.  the dialog box creation utility in vba is NICE.  drag and drop - badda
bing badda boom.  by creating these you can "interview" the user and take
that input and stuff it in the spreadsheet.  the beauty of the vba is that
it totally opens up the model - what does that mean?  it means you can
create tabs, rename tabs, change grid line colors, set print areas, set up
the pages, fill in cells, format cells - all on the fly.

2.  if you've ever set up a table in excel just in order to use the lookup
functions you know the pain.  having a macro iterate through a procedure is
much more stylish.

good luck

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