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Rapid Application Development / Advanced Excel Development

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Excel Development

Excel is a very extendable product, it can be manipulated with most mainstream technologies. This section of the site discusses some of the options and provides advice and examples from real world projects. 'Professional Excel Developer' is a bit of a misnomer because to offer a truly professional service it is important to know where Excels strengths and weaknesses are - and what the options are to enhance the strengths and manage any weaknesses relevant to a specific project.

Excel Solution Type Summary

Solution Pattern
Technology Choice   Workbook With Code Behind

Application Level Feature (Add-in)

Custom Worksheet Function Automation Project
VSTO (2003)   ü      
COM Add-in     ü    
Automation Add-in       ü  
Win32 XLL     ü ü  
VBA   ü ü ü  
Standalone exe         ü


This section of the site covers some of the more advanced concepts of developing in and around Excel.

There is plenty of great content on the web about working with Excel in terms of cells, worksheets and workbooks. This section looks beyond that to external technologies that can be used to extend Excel.

For scene setting you should review Simons Euprig2005 presentation and paper- but in summary:

  • Excel is NOT a fully featured enterprise application development platform.
  • The spreadsheet paradigm falls down rather dangerously as solution complexity increases.
  • Excel is a great prototyping environment, but not robust enough to form the core of strategic production systems.
  • Excel is generally an absolute requirement as part of the user interface of any decision support system.
The Excel Developer section discusses the broad types of developer we have met over the years on many different development projects.
The Excel VBA section looks at some of the more advanced VBA topics such as performance and coding conventions .
The Excel and Databases section considers the main database technologies and techniques that can be used to extend Excel. From simply pointing a pivot table at an Access table to avoid the 64k row limit, through SQL server connectivity to manipulation of decision support objects in Analysis Services, and generating MDX on the fly.
The Excel and Pivot Tables section looks at effective use of this essential technology.
The Excel Add-ins section covers the multitude of options for adding application level functionality to Excel.
The Worksheet functions section focuses on this important (and neglected) area. There are several viable technologies, and there are a few lemons too. This section highlights the issues.
The Excel and XLLs section discusses the issues around this type of add-in. Xlls have had a significant boost in Excel 2007 with improvements in many aspects. Xlls looked to be on the way out when the Software Developers Kit was not updated, and no new features were added, between Excel 97 and 2003. They have had a major revamp for 2007 and appear to be central to high performance Excel development for the foreseeable future.
The Excel Security section clarifies the Codematic standpoint on this often misunderstood feature set. Simply, Excel is not secure, by design, and that's a good thing. If you need a secure tool use something else. There are also a few simple Office security test workbooks used to highlight dangerous deficiencies in security settings.
The Excel Testing section looks at some of the tests we carry out as a normal part of our development projects. Testing is frequently glossed over in the books and in real world developments, that creates unnecessary risk.
The .net section considers the issues of working with Excel via .net. There are definitely some exciting developments in this area , but if you are delivering to a deadline there could be some unacceptable dependency risks too.
The Excel VBA IDE section looks at how to set up your editor to assist you to write high quality code.
The Excel VBA training section gives some idea of the type of training we can provide. We generally recommend coaching (shorter sessions over a longer period) rather than 3 or 5 day intensive courses. This allows training to be more focused on the individual and their job role or project. As our trainers are also developers we can switch from trainer to consultant and back as required to maximise the benefit to the delegate and the client.
The Excel 2007 section sets out the Codematic position on 2007. Basically we will not be migrating our projects or offering any services (apart from xll development) that target 2007 until 2008 at the earliest. Most of our clients are large multi-nationals who will not be adopting before then, if at all.

This whole section is a long term work in progress. As solutions come out of NDA, useful bits will be added here. As we discover new stuff it will be added (well the parts that might be useful anyway). The anticipated update cycle should be weekly, but that depends on fee paying work. Some of the contents may be ready to run apps like the free stuff here other things may just be scruffy code (in any language) or pointers to other resources. If you have a specific need, then get in touch - we are pretty friendly and helpful where possible.

If you require any more information please get in touch.


Upcoming Events:

25 January 2012 - UK Excel Developer Conference - London

Products for sale:


Office 2007 FileSearch replacement logo

New information about the missing FileSearch feature in Office 2007 and details of our pragmatic solution (Current price GBP 30.00)


worksheet password remover logo

Instant Excel worksheet protection remover and password recovery (Current price GBP 15.00)

Classic Ribbon Tab

classic ribbon for office 2007 logo

Add Excel 97/2000/2002/2003 compatible menu structure to Excel 2007
(Current Price GBP 10.00)


Products coming soon:

Link Manager

(Find and control external links in Excel Workbooks)

Due by Q1 2111.

XLAnalyst Pro

(Excel VBA based spreadsheet auditing tool)

Due before the end of 2111.

This page was last reviewed on December 21, 2011

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