Vba show form non modal note

First, I don't want my comments to be construed as disparaging anyone who is a VBA pro or uses it religiously.  In the past, I used it in a very limited way and I guess its fine, but limited. (by limited, I mean it doesn't have the endless libraries of something like Python or R).  Also, I know many banking, hedge funds and folks who don't know scripting languages also use it. So, its not like nobody uses it. However, I think those who use it, mainly use it because they are not aware of other better options available.

With that said, having been a quant type guy and spreadsheet user since the days of Quattro Pro, here is my take.

I think VBA will probably die at some point and be replaced with a more widely used and flexible language like Python or Julia. I'm not super read up on what Microsoft is thinking these days, but I imagine at some point, it makes sense for them to just go ahead and replace VBA with an option to use Python. They have a fairly large legacy user base for this stuff, so I expect they'll continue to support it in one way or another for quite a while to come.  In any case, here is an example of what Python in Excel looks like: Python in Excel - DataNitro . Admittedly, I'm curious as to why Microsoft doesn't just buy these guys.

While I don't love Google Spreadsheets (kinda the "play at home spreadsheet"), one thing to take note of is Google's App scripting language is very similar to Javascript Extending Google Sheets. I think this is a precursor to just simply making the programming language for Google spreadsheets plain old Javascript, but I'm not sure.

Finally, I don't want to say anything hyperbolic like "spreadsheets are dead," but the recent scientific computing movement is beginning to create serious cracks in what was once the impenetrable fortress that was spreadsheets.  To someone who was once a true "spreadsheet junkie", the The IPython Notebook feels like it is to spreadsheets what the internet was newspapers.  For anyone using spreadsheets for a long time, the classic problems with them are this:

  1. Not ideal for collaboration - its hard to work on a spreadsheet with more than one person at the same time - you can do this in Google Docs, but Google Spreadsheets are a bit under powered (IMO). If one person is changing formula or inputs and you don't have some kind of version control, sending spreadsheets around gets messy.
  2. Can be hard to figure out how someone calculated something - Sure, if the creator of the spreadsheet is super observant and documents every cell with comments etc, then you can figure out how the spreadsheet works. Most of the time, people aren't. So, receive a spreadsheet and depending on the number of tabs and complexity, you could literally spend more hours figuring out just how the thing works and be completely burned out by the time you turn to understanding the analysis.
  3. Excel is slow and clunky on large datasets - If you are analyzing anything over a 10's of 1000s of lines, then it can be super slow. Also, if the file has links in it, these links are often broken.
Anyway, the Notebook represents a real leap forward in how we build analysis and models. Think "calculating document" - imagine all the words in a MS Word document combined with the calculation power of Excel. Also, in notebooks, its very easy to sequentially walk through exactly what the writer of the script did. Finally, while Python isn't the fastest language in the world, things like vectorized computation make it much more ideal than Excel for handling medium data processing tasks and analysis.

I guess I would sum things up this way: If you already know VBA, are good at it and have people asking you to do projects, then so long as someone is willing to pay, then why not? However, I do think the world is changing (Python, R, Julia etc) and I'd start to develop expertise in those areas. If I didn't know VBA, I'd probably bypass it (unless my job absolutely required it) and opt to learn Python, R, Julia and their various libraries.

One final note: Like I said above, I was a real spreadsheet jockey. For probably 20 years, Excel was NEVER not open my PC. Then, I started to run into problems processing data sets I needed to understand (think 100s of 1000s of lines of ad server data). At this point, I knew I needed to change my ways and my approach. Excel could not (at least not easily and in reasonable time frame) allow me to do the kinds of analysis I needed. So, I bit the bullet and learned to code Python. It literally changed my life and I am thankful I did it. Now, I rarely open Excel and mainly just dump data and analysis into spreadsheets when I need to share them with an audience who can't understand anything else (which is often).




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