VBA Excel: What is it and what is it for?

Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in Excelis an integrated, very powerful and sophisticated programming language that allows you to write your own functions or commands in an Excel spreadsheet.

These custom functions, or commands, can help lighten your tasks and through Excel VBA you will be able to do almost anything imaginable in Excel. Before we dive into Excel VBA, let’s try to understand what VBA is.

Laptop with ExcelWhat is VBA?

In simpler terms you can also say that VBA is the own language of Office applications such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc… But technically, VBA is an implementation of Microsoft’s event-driven programming language, for example VB6 and the its associated integrated development environment (IDE).

Excel VBA

VBA is an extensible programming language that consists of a set of core commands and can work directly with objects in that application. Visual Basic Applications is bundled with Office Applications (host application) so that it can be used as a means to access and interact with the host applications object model. This means that, Excel VBA, it already knows what workbooks, worksheets, cells and charts are, but Word VBA doesn’t know these things. However, Word VBA understands terms such as documents, bookmarks, etc.

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Differences between VBA and Macro?

Many people confuse VBA with the Macro language. A Macro language is very different from a VBA. Macros were used with older versions of office applications and could only be used to automate instructions.

In fact, the first spreadsheet macro programs were just shortcuts for user interface commands. This approach was intuitive, but also had integral weaknesses. Because of these weaknesses, VBA replaced this “macro” language in 1993, and so there are still those who confuse VBA with the old macro language.

Visual Basic for Applications is more powerful and sophisticated than the traditional macro language and therefore was an immediate success.

What is the purpose of learning Excel VBA?

As you become more familiar with Excel, you’ll notice that while Excel provides a large number of tools and functions, it often lacks what you need to perform everyday tasks. Such tasks may include creating custom functions, repetitive instructions, automation tasks, etc.

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And so Microsoft provided VBA as a “gap filler” because it allows users to write your own methods or commands to carry out their tasks, more or less complex. You can do the most banal operations such as joining multiple Excel sheets to very complex operations that many don’t even imagine can be done via Excel.

Once you have some experience with VBA programming in Excel, you will never be stuck doing tasks due to a lack of built-in tools. Using Visual Basic for Applications you will be able to write your own functions and commands whenever you feel the need to write one.

What can you do with Excel VBA?

With Excel VBA you can do a lot of things in Excel. Here is a short list:

  1. You can automate tasks that you need to do frequently
  2. You can create a custom command in Excel
  3. You can repeat a series of instructions multiple times
  4. You can create a custom function popularly called as User Defined Function (UDF)
  5. You can create a custom add-in in Excel
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How to Learn to Write Excel VBA?

There are several ways to learn VBA programming for Excel. First of all, you need to know that to open the editor in which to write the VBA code, just open the Excel file and click on the buttons ALT+F11. The editor will open as in the figure below:

To start approaching VBA we recommend studying guides found online. Below are some links that may be useful to you:

  1. Online Excel VBA course – basic level
  2. Excel VBA Forum: to ask experts for advice (all for free)
  3. Excel VBA Video Course (YouTube)
  4. VBA Exercises and Examples (already ready for use)

VBA VIDEO LESSONS

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