I'm doing a new project in Excel. I can see that Excel allows you to write macros in Visual Basic. Do you have any advice on getting started with Excel programming?

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Excel is a wonderful and rich programming environment. Like all Microsoft Office applications, it uses Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) for it's macro programming language. A while ago, I wanted a spreadsheet that tracked my stocks and mutual funds on a daily basis. Once I started poking at what Excel could do, I ended up with a totally automated spreadsheet that downloaded my stock quotes automatically from the web and graphed how much I made, or lost that day. Probably the best place to start your Excel development is with a standard Visual Basic programming class or book. That way, you get the fundamentals out of the way. With that under your belt, there are some very good Excel books on the market. The one I used, which is unfortunately out of print, is "Microsoft Excel 97 Developer's Handbook" by Eric Wells and Steve Harshbarger. A friend of mine, who develops Excel solutions for a living, highly recommends "Microsoft Excel 2000 Power Programming with VBA."

This was first published in June 2001

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