Excel VBA Programming Basics in Plain Straight Forward English
Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet application, but when you harness the power of VBA, Excel becomes far more than a spreadsheet. VBA, or Visual Basic for Applications, turns Excel into a framework for almost unlimited applications. And Excel VBA programming is not as complicated as you might imagine either. In fact, writing applications in Excel using VBA merely requires some knowledge of the basics and then an unlimited imagination on your part. If you want to dive in and start creating your own macros right now, then the Excel VBA and Macros with MrExcel course offers you over 60 video lessons that teach you to create your own macros as you need them.
Visual Basic for Applications is essentially a programming framework or programming language that was developed by Microsoft based on the Visual Basic programming language. To write applications in VBA, you need a basic understanding of how this programming language works and how you can use it to create applications for your Excel spreadsheets and workbooks. For a great introduction to Excel VBA and how to create your first macros, read Excel VBA Tutorial: Make Your First Macro and Get to Know the Tools.
To use the VBA framework to create your own applications, you need to understand the various elements of the VBA framework and what they mean.
Excel VBA Code
In life we use language to communicate and grammar determines the rules and structure of our language. The language we use to communicate with Excel is called “code” and the grammar is called “syntax”.
VBA consists of a number of recognized statements with predefined functions that rely on their syntax to tell Excel how to execute the statement. The IF function for example can be used to repeat a set of code or instructions until a condition is met. VBA code allows you to define the parameters of the function and how the function works. The syntax for the “IF” function in VBA code looks like this:
If condition Then
For a simple tutorial on how to use the IF statement in your VBA code, read the If Then Statements in Excel Make Data Analysis Really Simple article on the Udemy blog.
VBA code consists of a number of different elements including code to declare variables, programming loops as well as ways of expressing mathematical functions and operations. To learn how to use some of these functions, you can read Learn VBA for Excel by Making your Own Program.
Elements of the VBA Framework: Objects and Events
Excel is essentially an object based programming language. This means Excel recognizes certain “objects” within the application and allows us to access and manipulate these objects based on the properties of the object.
Think of the world around you. As a human we recognize various objects within our environment like a television, a microwave and a tree. We can do various things with those objects based on the object’s properties. We can switch a television on or off, we can cook food in a microwave or we can add a swing to a tree.
Excel recognizes objects within its world in the same way. It recognizes worksheets, spreadsheets within those worksheets and cells. Excel also assigns various properties to these objects like cell addresses for example. The Macros & VBA Excel course offers video training on how to use the various objects in Excel, like rows, columns, cells and ranges as well as how to use the various functions associated with these objects.
Excel is also an event driven language which means that nothing happens until something happens; just like our television object in our world does nothing until we switch it on, the objects in Excel do nothing until we create an event that is linked to the object.
So essentially to create an Excel VBA program, we need to use the objects within Excel and then create events associated with those objects, to create applications that will perform functions for us to make our lives easier. We create events for our objects using procedures and functions.
Excel VBA Programming Procedures and Functions
Let’s assume you will be home late and a friend is coming over to watch a movie. You could text him a note with some instructions on what to do until you arrive. Your instructions may include where to look for the keys, which key opens the door and where to find the remote to switch on the television. You would in effect text him a procedure he could follow to get into your house.
VBA procedures are a set of instructions or statements that Excel uses to perform a particular operation. We need to tell Excel what it must do with the objects it recognizes, in a code it understands, and what event it should use to trigger the set of instructions.
Functions in Excel are a set of instructions that are repeated over and over again. In our example, our guest would have to go through each key on the key ring until he finds the right key to open the door. In Excel certain functions are performed over and over again until Excel finds the right answer or until the function is complete. Functions can be included in procedures to repeat various steps over and over again.
The Excel VBA Editor
Excel has made it extremely easy to create VBA code for your worksheets by including a code editor within Excel itself. To access the code editor, you need to select the developer tab from the main menu and then select “Visual Basic”. This will open the editor that applies to that particular worksheet.
You can also access the VBA editor by adding an ActiveX control to your worksheet. When you add an ActiveX control, Excel even adds the basic procedures and code structure for you making it even easier to program using Excel VBA.
Learn to master Excel VBA with the Visual Basic for Excel – Microsoft VBA Excel Tutorial course available from Udemy today and learn to unlock the true power of Excel.
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