You Say CustomUI Editor, I Say TextPad

 


I have written before about hand-crafting XML so as to customise an Office 2007 ribbon at XML Is Such A Pain and Autogen’ed Ribbon Code


 


As I have mentioned before, the CustomUI editor is far from perfect. It does allow adding of  image files and to validate the XML, but the editing experience is absolutely awful.


 


My favourite editor is TextPad, and one of the useful features of TextPad is the facility to incorporate syntax files that are file type dependent, for instance a Visual Basic syntax file for .bas and .vbs file types. The syntax files can highlight elements of your files which assist in  entering script as well as making the script more readable.


 


Although I rarely use the CustomUI editor when I am developing Excel ribbons these days as I autogen everything, my autogen doesn’t yet handle Word or Access ribbons. As I still don’t want to use the CustomUI editor, I built myself a CustomUI syntax file for use with TextPad. I can now edit my XML in TextPad, and copy and paste into the CustomUI editor when it is ready. I find this much more productive.


 


It is still necessary to setup TextPad with a document class for these files, setup the keyword colours and so on, but if you think it could be useful, you can get it a copy via the RSS feed, or download it here.

Styles AIn’t What They Used To Be

 

Everybody knows that if you are going to create a meaningful document in Word, you use Styles. Excel has styles as well, but how many of us use these built-in styles, or add to them with our own custom styles?

I have been building a styles utility recently, so I have delved deeply into this functionality. Clearly, one of the principal aims of such a utility would be the ability to edit styles. Being a rational coder, I don’t want to re-invent the wheel, so I decided to use the built-in styles editor. This is easily called using dialogs

 

Application.Dialogs(xlDialogApplyStyle).Show

 

From here, the style can be tailored to your needs, a new style can be added, or a style can be deleted. This dialog defaults to the Normal style, but you can pre-load the style by passing it as an argument

 

Application .(xlDialogApplyStyle).Show “myParticularStyle”

 

So far so good. This all looks ideal.

Unfortunately, things are never that simple. The following is a code snippet that should create a new style called NFx1Dec and open the styles edit dialog for that style.

 

Const StyleName As String = “NFx1Dec”

    On Error Resume Next
    ActiveWorkbook.Styles(StyleName).Delete
    On Error GoTo 0

    Activecell.Style = “Normal”
    ActiveWorkbook.Styles.Add StyleName, Activecell
    Application.Dialogs(xlDialogApplyStyle).Show ActiveWorkbook.Styles(StyleName)



If you call this dialog from VBA as shown above, select your style to work with, and then click the Modify button, you are presented with a series of tabs to adjust the particular style properties. From here, select the Patterns tab and you see a colour palette, a pattern dropdown, and a sample preview box.

So, you want to change the fill colour. Simple, just select a colour from the colour palette. Of course, it is not simple, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. Select the colour, and nothing happens. You do not see that colour in the Sample box (as you would if you were modifying this style in Excel), and when you exit, that style does not have that fill colour.

You can force it by selecting the pattern option to say solid, but you don’t have to do this in Excel, so you shouldn’t have to just because it is being invoked from VBA. You can also force it by selecting your colour, then select No Colour, then select you desired colour again (what!).

I tried various things to try and force the pattern to be solid before invoking the tab, such as

 

    ActiveWorkbook.Styles(StyleName).Interior.Pattern = xlSolid
    ActiveWorkbook.Styles(StyleName).Interior.PatternColorIndex = xlAutomatic



but no joy. So, a  real failing on using what is a useful function of Excel from within VBA.

I was discussing this with Jan Karel Pieterse, a Dutch Excel MVP. Jan Karel also has an interest in styles; he has a page about using styles on his website http://www.jkp-ads.com/Articles/styles00.asp. Jan Karel came up with the following workaround

 

Const StyleName As String = “NFx1Dec”
Dim CB As CommandBar
Dim sMenuKeys As String
Dim sMenuCap As String
    
    Set CB = Application.CommandBars(“Worksheet Menu Bar”)
    sMenuCap = CB.FindControl(Id:=30006, recursive:=True).Caption
    sMenuKeys = “%” & Mid(sMenuCap, InStr(sMenuCap, “&”) + 1, 1)
    sMenuCap = CB.FindControl(Id:=254, recursive:=True).Caption
    sMenuKeys = sMenuKeys & Mid(sMenuCap, InStr(sMenuCap, “&”) + 1, 1)
   
    On Error Resume Next
    ActiveWorkbook.Styles(StyleName).Delete
    On Error GoTo 0

    Activecell.Style = “Normal”
    ActiveWorkbook.Styles.Add StyleName, Activecell
    SendKeys sMenuKeys & ActiveWorkbook.Styles(StyleName)



Although this uses the dreaded SendKeys, it does seem to work. As a stand-alone procedure, it does work, but when embedded in an application, it had some serious problems.


… to be continued

Keep It Simple

We all know that coding is great fun, even code design is fun, but testing and debugging are most certainly not fun. As such, we have to do what we can to lighten that burden. 

One of my underlying principles in coding is in keeping the code well structured, well laid out, and generally easy to follow, so as to make it easier to maintain, easier to debug, and just generally a better experience.

Whilst spending some time on a forum today, I came across this code which had been found elsewhere. My question to you is, what is wrong with the following code?

 

Sub Copy_and_Rename_To_New_Folder()
     ”MUST set reference to Windows Script Host Object Model in the project using this code!
     ‘This procedure will copy all files in a folder, and insert the last modified date into the file name’
     ‘it is identical to the other procedure with the exception of the renaming…
     ‘In this example, the renaming has utilized the files Last Modified date to “tag” the copied file.
     ‘This is very useful in quickly archiving and storing daily batch files that come through with the same name on
     ‘a daily basis. Note: All files in current folder will be copied this way unless condition testing applied as in prior example.
    Dim objFSO As New Scripting.FileSystemObject, objFolder As Scripting.folder, PathExists As Boolean
    Dim objFile As Scripting.File, strSourceFolder As String, strDestFolder As String
    Dim x, Counter As Integer, Overwrite As String, strNewFileName As String
    Dim strName As String, strMid As String, strExt As String
    Dim sSavePath3 As String
    Application.ScreenUpdating = False ‘turn screenupdating off
    Application.EnableEvents = False ‘turn events off
     ‘Call Show_BrowseDirectory_Dialog ‘ Allows the Dynmaic selection of Save Path
     ‘identify path names below:
    strSourceFolder = “C:\Test” ‘Source path
     ‘strDestFolder = “C:\Test\Destination” ‘destination path, does not have to exist prior to execution
     ”””””NOTE: Path names can be strings built in code, cell references, or user form text box strings”””
     ”””””example: strSourceFolder = Range(“A1″)
     ‘below will verify that the specified destination path exists, or it will create it:
    On Error Resume Next
    x = GetAttr(strDestFolder) And 0
    If Err = 0 Then ‘if there is no error, continue below
        PathExists = True ‘if there is no error, set flag to TRUE
        Overwrite = MsgBox(“The folder may contain duplicate files,” & vbNewLine & _
        “Do you wish to overwrite existing files with same name?”, vbYesNo, “Alert!”)
         ‘message to alert that you may overwrite files of the same name since folder exists
        If Overwrite <> vbYes Then Exit Sub ‘if the user clicks YES, then exit the routine..
         ‘Else: ‘if path does NOT exist, do the next steps
         ‘ PathExists = False ‘set flag at false
         ‘ If PathExists = False Then MkDir (strDestFolder) ‘If path does not exist, make a new one
    End If ‘end the conditional testing
    On Error Goto ErrHandler
    Set objFSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”) ‘creates a new File System Object reference
    Set objFolder = objFSO.GetFolder(strSourceFolder) ‘get the folder
    Counter = 0 ‘set the counter at zero for counting files copied
    If Not objFolder.Files.Count > 0 Then Goto NoFiles ‘if no files exist in source folder “Go To” the NoFiles section
    For Each objFile In objFolder.Files ‘for every file in the folder…
         ‘parse the name in three pieces, file name middle and extension.
        strName = Left(objFile.Name, Len(objFile.Name) – 4) ‘remove extension and leave name only
         ‘strMid = Format(objFile.DateLastModified, “_mmm_dd_yy”) ‘insert and format files date modified into name
         ‘strMid = Format(Now(),”_mmm_dd_yy”) ‘sample of formatting the current date into the file name
        strExt = Right(objFile.Name, 4) ‘the original file extension
         ‘ For Valeo Daily
        Dim strDate As String
         ‘strDate = Right(strName, 8)
         ‘strNewFileName = Mid(strDate, 3, 2) & “-” & Mid(strDate, 5, 2) & “-” & Mid(strDate, 7, 2) & ” elec Valeo ” & _
        Left(strName, Len(strName) – 9) & strExt ‘build the string file name (can be done below as well)
         ‘ End Valeo Daily
         ‘strNewFileName = strName & ” TET” & strExt
        strNewFileName = “09 lqd ” & strName & ” TRS” & strExt
         ‘objFile.Copy strDestFolder & “\” & strNewFileName ‘copy the file with NEW name!
        objFile.Name = strNewFileName ‘<====this can be used to JUST RENAME, and not copy
         ‘The below line can be uncommented to MOVE the files AND rename between folders, without copying
         ‘objFile.Move strDestFolder & “\” & strNewFileName
        
         ‘End If ‘where conditional check, if applicable would be placed.
         ‘ Uncomment the If…End If Conditional as needed
        Counter = Counter + 1
    Next objFile ‘go to the next file
     ‘MsgBox “All ” & Counter & ” Files from ” & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & strSourceFolder & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & _
    ” copied/moved to: ” & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & strDestFolder, , “Completed Transfer/Copy!”
     ‘Message to user confirming completion
    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing ‘clear the objects
    Exit Sub
NoFiles:
     ‘Message to alert if Source folder has no files in it to copy
    MsgBox “There Are no files or documents in : ” & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & _
    strSourceFolder & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & “Please verify the path!”, , “Alert: No Files Found!”
    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing ‘clear the objects
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True ‘turn screenupdating back on
    Application.EnableEvents = True ‘turn events back on
    Exit Sub ‘exit sub here to avoid subsequent actions
ErrHandler:
     ‘A general error message
    MsgBox “Error: ” & Err.Number & Err.Description & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & _
    “Please verify that all files in the folder are not currently open,” & _
    “and the source directory is available”
    Err.Clear ‘clear the error
    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing ‘clear the objects
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True ‘turn screenupdating back on
    Application.EnableEvents = True ‘turn events back on
End Sub
Sub FolderExists()
    Dim FSO
    Dim folder As String
    folder = “G:\Marketing\Market Price Guides\1Valeo Power Summaries”
    Set FSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)
    If FSO.FolderExists(folder) Then
        MsgBox folder & ” is a valid folder/path.”, vbInformation, “Path Exists”
    Else
        MsgBox folder & ” is NOT a valid folder/path. “, vbInformation, ” Invalid Path”
    End If
End Sub

 

That is a rhetorical question as I will tell you what is wrong with it. It is over-commented that is what is wrong with it, grossly over-commented.

Even allowing for the fact that many of the comments were probably added because it was being posted as a response in an Excel forum, they are totally self-defeating to my mind.

 Let’s look at in detail …

 

Sub Copy_and_Rename_To_New_Folder()
”MUST set reference to Windows Script Host Object Model in the project using this code!
‘This procedure will copy all files in a folder, and insert the last modified date into the file name’
‘it is identical to the other procedure with the exception of the renaming…
‘In this example, the renaming has utilized the files Last Modified date to “tag” the copied file.
‘This is very useful in quickly archiving and storing daily batch files that come through with the same name on
‘a daily basis. Note: All files in current folder will be copied this way unless condition testing applied as in prior example.

 

A relatively standard practice, say what it does. But what a lot of words to say it, many of which I feel could have been dispensed with a meaningful procedure name.

 The library reference comment may be the only bit of this I find useful, but even that is relatively obvious from the following variable declarations.

 

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False ‘turn screenupdating off
   
Application.EnableEvents = False ‘turn events off

 

The code says it all, no need for any comments here.

 

     ‘Call Show_BrowseDirectory_Dialog ‘ Allows the Dynmaic selection of Save Path
     ‘identify path names below:

 

Presumably, this is some old version  code … so remove it.

 

    strSourceFolder = “C:\Test” ‘Source path

 

The name of the variable tells you all you need to know.

 

     ‘strDestFolder = “C:\Test\Destination” ‘destination path, does not have to exist prior to execution
     ”””””NOTE: Path names can be strings built in code, cell references, or user form text box strings”””
     ”””””example: strSourceFolder = Range(“A1″)
     ‘below will verify that the specified destination path exists, or it will create it:

 

Old code again, but even here what does the comments within say, it explained nothing to me

 

    On Error Resume Next
   
x = GetAttr(strDestFolder) And 0
    If Err = 0 Then ‘if there is no error, continue below

 

This is obvious, , no need for any comments here.

 

        PathExists = True ‘if there is no error, set flag to TRUE

 

The code is clear, no need for any comments here. The only comment that would help IMO is an explanation of what PathExists is used for, but the name tells you that.

 

        Overwrite = MsgBox(“The folder may contain duplicate files,” & vbNewLine & _
        “Do you wish to overwrite existing files with same name?”, vbYesNo, “Alert!”)
         ‘message to alert that you may overwrite files of the same name since folder exists

 

Good idea, add a  comment that essentially repeats the message.

 

        If Overwrite <> vbYes Then Exit Sub ‘if the user clicks YES, then exit the routine..

 

 

Totally pointless comment.

 

         ‘Else: ‘if path does NOT exist, do the next steps
        
‘ PathExists = False ‘set flag at false
         ‘ If PathExists = False Then MkDir (strDestFolder) ‘If path does not exist, make a new one

 

Old code, but again with obvious comments.

 

    End If ‘end the conditional testing

 

Totally pointless comment.

 

    On Error Goto ErrHandler
    Set objFSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”) ‘creates a new File System Object reference

 

The code tells you that.

 

    Set objFolder = objFSO.GetFolder(strSourceFolder) ‘get the folder

 

The code tells you that.

 

    Counter = 0 ‘set the counter at zero for counting files copied

 

The code tells you that, the only news here it is a files counter, so just say that if anything.

 

    If Not objFolder.Files.Count > 0 Then Goto NoFiles ‘if no files exist in source folder “Go To” the NoFiles section

 

The code tells you that, res-state what the code says.

 

    For Each objFile In objFolder.Files ‘for every file in the folder…

 

The code tells you that, basic usage of For.

 

         ‘parse the name in three pieces, file name middle and extension.

 

Some might find this useful, I wouldn’t, the code says it.

 

        strName = Left(objFile.Name, Len(objFile.Name) – 4) ‘remove extension and leave name only

 

Anyone familiar with filenames should get this, although it would be better to use a technique that allows for variable extension types.

 

         ‘strMid = Format(objFile.DateLastModified, “_mmm_dd_yy”) ‘insert and format files date modified into name
         ‘strMid = Format(Now(),”_mmm_dd_yy”) ‘sample of formatting the current date into the file name

 

Look at that, some of the code has been commented out, rendering a previous comment incorrect.

 

        strExt = Right(objFile.Name, 4) ‘the original file extension

 

I repeat my earlier comment on this.

 

         ‘ For Valeo Daily

 

I have absolutely no idea what this means, so it only serves to confuse me.

 

        Dim strDate As String
        
‘strDate = Right(strName, 8)
         ‘strNewFileName = Mid(strDate, 3, 2) & “-” & Mid(strDate, 5, 2) & “-” & Mid(strDate, 7, 2) & ” elec Valeo ” & _
        Left(strName, Len(strName) – 9) & strExt ‘build the string file name (can be done below as well)
         ‘ End Valeo Daily
         ‘strNewFileName = strName & ” TET” & strExt
        strNewFileName = “09 lqd ” & strName & ” TRS” & strExt

 

As before, a lot of old code commented out, adding tgo the confusion, reducing the readability.

 

 

         ‘objFile.Copy strDestFolder & “\” & strNewFileName ‘copy the file with NEW name!
        objFile.Name = strNewFileName ‘<====this can be used to JUST RENAME, and not copy
         ‘The below line can be uncommented to MOVE the files AND rename between folders, without copying
         ‘objFile.Move strDestFolder & “\” & strNewFileName          
        
         ‘End If ‘where conditional check, if applicable would be placed.
         ‘ Uncomment the If…End If Conditional as needed

 

This could be useful comments, but I would assume that any decent coder could work this out if they need to do it. Since when do we add code, commented out, to cater for other situations?

 

        Counter = Counter + 1

    Next objFile ‘go to the next file

 

Totally unnecessary comment.

 

     ‘MsgBox “All ” & Counter & ” Files from ” & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & strSourceFolder & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & _
   
” copied/moved to: ” & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & strDestFolder, , “Completed Transfer/Copy!”
     ‘Message to user confirming completion

 

Old code again, presumably.

 

    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing ‘clear the objects

 

Comment only says what the code says.

 

    Exit Sub

NoFiles:
    
‘Message to alert if Source folder has no files in it to copy
    MsgBox “There Are no files or documents in : ” & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & _
    strSourceFolder & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & “Please verify the path!”, , “Alert: No Files
Found!”

 

Comment only says what the code says.

 

    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing ‘clear the objects

 

Comment only says what the code says.

 

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True ‘turn screenupdating back on
   
Application.EnableEvents = True ‘turn events back on
   
Exit Sub ‘exit sub here to avoid subsequent actions

 

The code says it all, no need for any comments here.

 

ErrHandler:
    
‘A general error messagee
    MsgBox “Error: ” & Err.Number & Err.Description & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & _
    “Please verify that all files in the folder are not currently open,” & _
    “and the source directory is available”
    Err.Clear ‘clear the error
    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing ‘clear the objects

 

Comment only says what the code says.

 

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True ‘turn screenupdating back on
   
Application.EnableEvents = True ‘turn events back on

 

The code says it all, no need for any comments here.

 

End Sub
Sub FolderExists()
    Dim FSO
    Dim folder As String
    folder = “G:\Marketing\Market Price Guides\1Valeo Power Summaries”
    Set FSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)
    If FSO.FolderExists(folder) Then
        MsgBox folder & ” is a valid folder/path.”, vbInformation, “Path Exists”
    Else
        MsgBox folder & ” is NOT a valid folder/path. “, vbInformation, ” Invalid Path”
    End If
End Sub


Now I am ready to accept that I am in a minority ( a minority of only two that I know of), but I generally find comments to be of no use, and I fully expect the standard police to be down on me for my views. The code above shows all of the bad usages of comments that I come across,

  • comments that just repeat what the code says
  • too much verbiage in the comments
  • comments that try so hard to be clear, they are incomprehensible
  • meaningless comments
  • out of date comments
and so on.

But worse of all, and my biggest gripe against comments is that they make the code so hard to read. When I am debugging, I am reading the code, I am looking back at what has happened, I am looking forward at what is about to happen, and those comments just get in the way. If they were helpful in other ways, then …, but they rarely are.

Let’s be honest, how many of us really find other people’s comments helpful, and with our own they usually only tell us what we can read from (our own) code. And of course, out of date comments are not only unhelpful, they can be mis-leading, and lead to errors. But of course, we are all excellent of keeping the documentation up to date aren’t we? 

So my advice, ditch the comments, if you can’t read the code, leave it alone.

 

I have re-cut that code above without comments, and with better spacing. I am not saying it is perfect, or the best way, it is just a way that I find better. I have ditched all the comments, none gave me anything, and I think the code is now ready for debugging.

As an aside, I have a routine that strips comments from code, which I wrote so I copuld strip those forum postings where comments gets in the way.

 

Sub Copy_and_Rename_To_New_Folder()
    Dim objFSO As New Scripting.FileSystemObject, objFolder As Scripting.folder, PathExists As Boolean
    Dim objFile As Scripting.File, strSourceFolder As String, strDestFolder As String
    Dim x, Counter As Integer, Overwrite As String, strNewFileName As String
    Dim strName As String, strMid As String, strExt As String
    Dim sSavePath3 As String

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    Application.EnableEvents = False

    strSourceFolder = “C:\Test”
    On Error Resume Next
    x = GetAttr(strDestFolder) And 0
    If Err = 0 Then

        PathExists = True
        Overwrite = MsgBox(“The folder may contain duplicate files,” & vbNewLine & _
        “Do you wish to overwrite existing files with same name?”, vbYesNo, “Alert!”)
        If Overwrite <> vbYes Then Exit Sub
    End If
    On Error Goto ErrHandler

    Set objFSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)
    Set objFolder = objFSO.GetFolder(strSourceFolder)

    Counter = 0
    If Not objFolder.Files.Count > 0 Then Goto NoFiles

    For Each objFile In objFolder.Files

        strName = Left(objFile.Name, Len(objFile.Name) – 4
        strExt = Right(objFile.Name, 4)
        Dim strDate As String
        strNewFileName = “09 lqd ” & strName & ” TRS” & strExt
        objFile.Name = strNewFileName
        Counter = Counter + 1
    Next objFile

    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing

    Exit Sub

NoFiles:
    MsgBox “There Are no files or documents in : ” & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & _
    strSourceFolder & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & “Please verify the path!”, , “Alert: No Files Found!”

    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
    Application.EnableEvents = True

    Exit Sub ‘exit sub here to avoid subsequent actions

ErrHandler:
    MsgBox “Error: ” & Err.Number & Err.Description & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & _
    “Please verify that all files in the folder are not currently open,” & _
    “and the source directory is available”
    Err.Clear ‘clear the error

    Set objFile = Nothing: Set objFSO = Nothing: Set objFolder = Nothing

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
    Application.EnableEvents = True
End Sub

Sub FolderExists()
    Dim FSO
    Dim folder As String

    folder = “G:\Marketing\Market Price Guides\1Valeo Power Summaries”
    Set FSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)

    If FSO.FolderExists(folder) Then

        MsgBox folder & ” is a valid folder/path.”, vbInformation, “Path Exists”
    Else

        MsgBox folder & ” is NOT a valid folder/path. “, vbInformation, ” Invalid Path”
    End If
End Sub


Regression Can Be Sweet

My laptop blew this last weekend. Unfortunately, my backups were yet to be done, so I have lost a fair amount of work. That is incredibly frustrating, but this post is on another topic.


I was an Excel 2000 user for many years. I did dabble with 2002/XP for a while, but I didn’t see any real advantage to it,  didn’t really enjoy it, so I went back to Excel 2000.


When I did finally take the plunge, I upgraded to Excel 2003, and after a few querulous moments adapting to this flashy beast, where I first took notice of Microsoft’s drive to push the visual effects often to the detriment of the content, I settled down with Excel 2003 and have enjoyed a fruitful relationship for some years. Of course, I have dabbled like so many with the new kid on the block, Excel 2007, but I can’t say I have been won over yet. I don’t like the Ribbon, I don’t hate it, I just don’t see the rationale for it. I think some things have been really messed up, conditional formatting stands out for me. I think some new things have been poorly implemented, the NameManager as an example and the weak set of new functions, and there are many missed opportunities. But worst of all, I think glitzy effects are being added far too loosely, without thinking, or without knowing what is good visualisation. Maybe 2010 will set the product right, but in the meantime, Excel 2003 is still my Excel of choice.


But here is a strange thing. After my laptop blew, I dug my old Sony Vaio out of the cupboard. I had work to do, so I needed a laptop, but this machine only had Office 2000 on it. Now I have to admit that Outlook 2000 feels positively ancient, I long for Outlook 2003. But … I love using Excel 2000 again. I have been using it for 3 days now and I haven’t missed Excel 2003 once. This has completely surprised me.

OpenOffice Is Looking Good



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I have blogged previously about what a rubbish job MS have done with Conditional Formatting in Excel 2007, but it seems it is worse than I feared.


In this same file I now had CF setup as I wanted, after much trials and tribulations, but I needed to insert a new column, but the CF was required to be different than the CF on either side.


First thing I tried was to simply insert the column. Of course, this meant that it inherited the CF from the column to the left, which was not what I wanted, so I opened the CF dialog and thought I would change the range that the rule applies to from those two columns to just my newly inserted column, and change that rule. This I did, but it wiped out the rule entirely from the other column. And to compound the problem, it cleared the format fill colour from the newly inserted column, and when I changed the rule and added back the fill colour, every cell in my range showed the colour, even though only a single cell matched the condition being tested for.


So I tried another approach. I created a column off the data area, setup the CF exactly as I wanted for that column, then added an index number in the first free row so that I could sort the columns into my required order. For some unknown reason, this removed my CF, gave it the CF of the column to its (new) left, and also managed to setup data validation as was applied to its (new)O column to the right. Genius! I knew what I wanted to do, but the designers at MS decide they know better, in two ways.


So how did I fix it? I first deleted the CF from the column that is already present, then inserted my new column. I then re-instated the CF that was in the previous column, and added the CF in my new column. Not a great chore, but I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO FIGHT THE SOFTWARE to do what I want to do. And you can bet that the next time I need to do it, I will have forgotten, and I will go through all this pain again.


Whilst I am having a good rant, when are MS going to default CF (and Data Validation) edit boxes to update, so as to avoid accidentally inserting rubbish when you hit the arrow keys. I can’t recall ever thinking the default was useful.