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Excel Controller

Excel Control

As Excel matures certain features have been added that can get in the way for developers. These features may well make things more convenient for some users, but can really get in the way for others.

This COM add-in is designed to regain some control.

Reviewing Toolbar

The first issue is the reviewing toolbar. Excel seems to open this up every time you open a workbook that was authored by someone else. No matter how many times you shut it down it pops back up the next time you open an external workbook.

This might be less of a concern if the reviewing toolbar actually offered any useful tools for actually reviewing spreadsheets but it doesn't. Somebody must find it useful, nobody at Codematic ever has.

In actual fact this 'feature' is caused by a property (or group of properties) added to the workbook file by Outlook. This was on by default in Office XP (2002) but is (/might be) thankfully is off in 2003 (apparently).

It might be to do with files that are sent from Excel (File>>Send To). Unfortunately as it is caused by other peoples files it is not likely to be realistic to fix at source. What we need is some control over how our Excel deal with these files.

This add-in traps the workbook open event, and closes the reviewing toolbar straight after if it opens. You can allow the review toolbar bar by toggling the setting on the tools menu.

Row height

Worksheets can be very useful for creating all manner of things. One surprisingly common use is to create text files. For example most of the XLAnalyst help file was constructed by concatenating HTML tags and text strings held in cells and writing out as .htm files.

Unfortunately when you enter text with an embedded line break (by using Alt+Enter for example) Excel 'helpfully' extends the row height to make the whole text visible. It also adds a load of soft carriage returns to fit within the column width. And it often changes the scroll position as well.

This is rarely the desired outcome. And unlike Word which allows you to back out many of its automatic 'help' by using control Z, in Excel you are forced to reset the row height manually.

This can be a pain, especially if you have many long strings to enter. You can mitigate the effect by setting the whole row height up front.

This add-in compares the row height when you begin editing a cell to the height once you have finished. If there is a change it resets it.

The net effect is that entering long text, or embedded line breaks or carriage returns no longer messes up the rows heights or changes the scroll position of the sheet.

This add-in is a free download. Its a COM add-in written in VB6.

The source code is available from here. If you don't have VB6 you can import the files into VBA and create an xla add-in instead. An installation package will be available at some point to install and register the dll without needing VB6 or VBA.

Works with Excel 2003, tested only on Windows XP. Will probably not work in other versions of Excel.

Any comments, feedback or suggestions welcome here.




Upcoming Events:

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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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