VBA Book Reviews
 
VBA, although quite general in its applicability, is still customized and aligned very closely with the specific program it supports. Thus the class or collection model for Word and Word Perfect are really quite different despite the common program task - word processing. So VBA for AutoCAD, Access, Excel, System Archtect, etc are also quite distinctive. Thus you will find several different app versions of VBA being covered at theOpenSourcery.

Excel has always had an analytical bent to it with statistics, matrix manipulation, and optimization algorithms (Solver add-on) being key parts of its capabilities. Thus it was a delight to find VBA for ModelersDeveloping Decision Support Systems with Microsoft Excel by Christian Albright. Having done engineering and chemistry problems with extensive macros in VBA, it was still a sort of haphazard mixture of VB and adhoc VBA programming. . But with VBA for Modelers, all of this work was put into context because this text gives a substantial grounding in how VBA works and then specifically how it can be made to work very well in Excel.

Fortunately, the exercises and problems are graded. At the outset they are fairly simple but effective illustrations of event handling, method invocation, and working with VBA's forms and properties. But after this intro, the book steps up and shows users how to integrate into and take advantage of the graphics engine, formulas, formatting tools and database capabilities of Excel itself. And the exercises are great examples from finance and business.This book is really a great demonstartion of how decision support can have big payoffs to a wide range of organizations.

What can be most frustrating about MS books is that the writers tend to abandon some of the older Microsoft technology faster than the Redmundians themselves. Not so Microsoft Access 2000 Power Programming(be sure to get Access 2000 not 2002, the latest book is not nearly as tight as the earlier book). This book gives users all the goods on old Access programming versus the new VBA based paradigms. It even covers DAO database access method in the face of the edict that "ADO will be the VB/VBA data acess reference standard". Of course that is now ADO.NET but that is another story.

This book is careful and thorough in its exposure of VBA syntax and Access specific properties and methods. The book is not afraid to take on advanced topics such as custome properties, user-defined collections, class plus methods development. Also as implied, the book balances the old with the new - showing when to use DAO and when to choose ADO, or when to use POP versus other mail protocols, etc. There are good example exercises and code samples to illustrate points. In sum, this is one of the better Access/VBA books to dicsuss all aspects of the language. So as next-gen Office 11 takes on new XML functionality and Yukon, the new SQL Server edition for a wide range of Office products emerges, watch for an update on this excellent tour of Access.

 

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