A friend of mine brought up the fact that he had previously mentioned VBA to me. This can be confusing insofar as the available routes are VB and VBA, so I thought I’d give a definition here: “Visual Basic makes it mandatory for a user to create the application instances to manipulate one or more of the Office application objects. In contrast, Visual Basic for Applications, that is a subset of VB, executes its instructions inside one of the office applications”. Essentially, to use VB I had to install and run Microsoft Visual Studio, whereas VBA can be run within a macro in Excel. Both are based on the BASIC language, which I have used extensively in a past life, so it should be straightforward.
Anyway, I thought I’d get familiar with both I’ve taken the course VB Fundamentals for Absolute Beginners with Bob Tabor on Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) – they have a wealth of courses online and are always worth a visit. This is an excellent course (and it helps that Bob is very easy to listen to) and well worth anyone who is interested in learning VB looking into. It will show all the basics to get you on your way and it will show you how to complete building an application from scratch or at least “Explore the concepts of using VB” (the latter as per course description).
The next course I took a look at is the Excel Easy VBA course. This is very much targeted at people who want to write macros in Excel and is a great course to get anyone who wants to write macros started. The only thing I would say about this short course is that they don’t tell you how to add the labels for the form in the last section. I’ve used SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) before so I just winged it and the properties for all of the controls are similar enough.
Both of these courses are excellent, and I’m glad I took the time to complete them both, as both have a lot to offer. VB is offered for developers who want to learn more about what .NET can offer. The VBA course is offered for Excel superusers who want to get more out of Excel. You don’t have to make a choice – you can do both, as they’re free.
I will be expanding on both in a future article and give examples of when and where to use either.