Apps

Poll: Do you program against Office?

Answer this one-question poll to let us know whether you program against Office and, if so, how often.

One "iceberg" type of development is Office. If you aren't doing any of it, you may not realize how many developers are integrating into Office. For instance, I was shocked to discover how much is done with SharePoint.

The majority of developers I know do not program against Office, and the ones who do use it mostly for simple utilities like an Excel macro here and there. I have not worked against Office in a while, but I did have a job a while ago that was a lot of Excel programming.

With Office 2013 launching, Microsoft has added some interesting new twists on Office development that may spur additional interest in it. I'd like to learn about whether readers are integrating into Office.

J.Ja

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About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

21 comments
DavidTheConsultant
DavidTheConsultant

Using Office Access as an [i]integrated App database[/i]? Lousy. Bad. etc. Using Office Access as an a [i]highly flexible [b]data conduit[/b] that can connect to just about anything[/i], fronting a real database (SQL Server, MySQL, Firebird, Oracle, etc.) on the back end? Absolutely yes. Great. Love it!

DavidTheConsultant
DavidTheConsultant

Yes. Absolutely. Used Access as a Quality Issue Management Tracking and Workflow application front end, Outlook for email integration and Word for document and forms generation. Most code is VBA. As a platform Office has issues, but nothing else is close in capabilities short of writing everything ourselves. It gave us a huge technology foundation to build on. As a consulting company I'm about getting things done and delivering value to the customer; not reinventing the wheel or making a political software statement. David Schofield, david dot schofield at myqualityprocess dot com

chusteczka
chusteczka

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Cheval
Cheval

Do you mean via VBA or .NET interop and what version of Office? The need was 90% VBA in Office 2.0/95 to 10% C, 85% Office 2000/2003 to 15% VB5/6 and has basically now lives on to 10% Office 2010, 5% Office 2007, 35% Office 2003 and 50% .NET. Some apps are either not worth to port (if they stay only being data bit flipping) to later Office versions or .NET or the boss doesn't see the need to upgrade Office. We still run XP in a lot of places and building features in the work horse Office 2003 and importing .NET functionality. So much for thinking LightSwitch was going to kill off the Office apps; they'll need to give it away to get a foot hold.

softwarejanitor
softwarejanitor

Not only do I not program for MS-Office, we don't use it where I work. Actually to be more specific, we don't even HAVE it. We either use OpenOffice or Google Docs and most of us are running on non-Windows machines, mostly Macs, Linux or Android devices. Most of our clients are going that way as well. There is no reason anymore to pay taxes to Redmond.

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

...in that I have to develop mechanisms to counteract default object behaviour Microsoft - in its "wisdom" - instilled into VBA components. Date is one - why the US-myopic mm-dd-yyyy format as default is beyond me? Doesn't the rest of the world exist? it's not even logical. And even with code, excel will still try to flip it back from dd/mm/yyyy to mm/dd/yyyy if it thinks it recognises a string as a date. And anytime an object is *referenced*, it fires the bloody _change() method. Why? And why do I have to program *against* that? Soon as I can, porting all this to some other language - *anything* - to get my apps out of VBA.

galraen
galraen

What exactly does the writer understand 'against' means, he doesn't appear to mean it in the way an English speaker would use it?

devshop
devshop

I'm an ISV and integrate the desktop business apps I build (in .NET) with Office (Outlook, Excel, Word) because customers ask for it. Nearly every small business I work with has some version (2000, 2003, 2007 or 2010) of Office and want to use the data generated in the custom app in tandem with office. Just FYI: if a user does NOT have Office installed, my apps hide the integrated features. But for Outllook users, for example, they simply LOVE the Print Preview feature that attaches the report they're viewing as a PDF file in a new Outlook message and adds the customer's email address (from the database) and a meaningly subject line based on what they're viewing. This seamless functionality is a selling point because not only because it makes their job easier but it validates the money they've spent on Office.

Rob C
Rob C

When you say 'Program against Office' do you mean 'do we do VBA programming within Office' ? Conversely, if I wrote a VB6 program that just uses Access as a DB (the way God intended), I assume that is NOT what you were talking about ? I audited for many years, then I worked in IT for 20 years. What was commonplace in many of the user depts(the non IT depts), was the writing of massive Excel VBA 'applications'. I assumed that one of the driving forces for that, was the delay in getting projects approved through the IT dept. When MS discarded VB6 like a used condom, they could not foist their VB.NET on the VBA 'programmers' Is that still the case ? Rob PS Have I managed to hide my hostility towards VB.NET ?

byrne2310
byrne2310

This article states that "Microsoft has added some interesting new twists on Office development." I have only been using Office 2013 since Launch Day, but I have not yet found anything that differs between it and the 2010 version, or for that matter, the 2007 version. The article does not provide any pointers to lists or other documentation of such changes. That would be valuable to me, and assumedly others who, like me, program in Office daily as the largest part of the job (see the poll). Can anyone point me to such a list/document?

Randall_D_Roth@whirlpool.
Randall_D_Roth@whirlpool.

We have a lot of Java apps querying out of Oracle databases. Traditionally, Java servlets have fed JSPs, which in turn yield html reports. But users have loved the reports where we use POI libraries, essentially eliminating the JSP, and producing native Excel files instead of html. Throw in some formatting, pivot tables, and varying amounts of VBA, and the users are thrilled with their ability to manipulate data, and not just look at it.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

I don't create a lot of VBA in Office documents, but we regularly receive them from agencies that we work with. We don't have any choice about using them either. They are mandatory. We do use a lot of documents that pull data from databases, but that is something that could be done with other office products. We also use an application that does office automation to open and populate templates. I'm sure this could be done with other platforms, but it would be a major investment by the vendor which I don't see happening.

Slayer_
Slayer_

But outside of Office, our company has a VBA license. However, I have done a lot of integration, many of them creating large word documents through code. Entire documents, tables, form fields, etc. filled through code.

fab
fab

...working with VBA been the major part of my work for the last 10 years. worse still, I am stuck to Access '97 for a major accounting program, to which I have attached a whole lot of customizations, and even written a separate module. migrating to a more modern version of Access is, simply put, impossible. The progam has been so heavily modified, in order to satisfy customer's needs, that even upgrades from the software house are a major pain in the neck. As a side effect, being so much forcefully involved with (old) Office programming has meant that I had only minor knowledge of more modern technologies. I still struggle to get a hold on VB .NET and C#. I wonder if there is someone else out there with a similar working background... fb

hometoy
hometoy

Though I have to admit, Excel and VBA was one part that got me into the IT department from Accounting in the first place! Now I do some VBA, primarily for pulling in and scrubing data to input into Access, or to filter through Excel or just recently to easy Emailing people's credentials.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I try to avoid them and use lostfocus or mouseup and keypressup events instead. When change events are required, I make an escape if statement based on a boolean so I can control when they actually fire. You can also save some grief if you disable document updating before making changes, this halts the events until document updating is enabled. Just remember to put the updating to enabled in your error handlers or an error can make the document freeze up.

atoms
atoms

and s/he really intended Access to be taken seriously as a database, then that is conclusive proof that s/he has a very cruel sense of humor.

chip_long
chip_long

I tried the free trial of Office 13 just to see what was different. There was a "Take a Tour" off of the new Start Screen that highlighted some of the differences. For new functions, it appears that they added a lot of new Trigonometry functions - no longer just limited to cos, sin and tan. They updated the Chart tools - it is MUCH easier to format the charts now than in previous versions. The major thing that I saw that was added, and what I think is being referred to here, is that Excel can now interface directly with web applications. It has a new function that can pull data directly from an RSS feed or web page and populate cells in excel. (pretty sure the link to their sample sheet was included in the "Take a tour" page).

simonschilder
simonschilder

We use apps to pull data form a database as well. The data is send to Word templates and according to the data the text is changed using vba. If not for that meganism we'd have a LOT of different templates which have to be manually chosen by a user with all the possibillties of errors we can now avoid.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That's one of the things people don't realize when they urge everyone to abandon Office. Even if some of didn't have other applications tied to it, as long as our customers mandate it then we don't have much choice.