VBA-free Office for Mac debuts
The macro language subset of Visual Basic has been the bread and butter architecture for those tasked with building advanced formatting in Microsoft’s signature Excel and Word suites.
While VBA is still supported in Office for the PC the lack of an equivalent in the latest Mac version will make it harder for enterprises to maintain compatibility between Mac and PC Office applications, and make the job of developing for separate platforms using the same IT staff just that little bit harder.
Microsoft announced last July it would no longer license VBA and encouraged application development using Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA) or Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). Microsoft has also published advice to developers wishing to make the transition.
Erik Schweibert, software design lead at Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU), disclosed Microsoft's reasons for abandoning VBA back in August 2006. Despite what appears to be a rational analysis from Microsoft, the move prompted widespread protests from both users and developers.
Microsoft argued that the technical problems involved in porting Visual Basic at the same time as revamping Mac Office to work on Apple's Intel platform would have meant further delays. At the same time, Microsoft has included enhanced support for AppleScript in Mac Office 2008, which can be used as an alternative to VBA for many tasks.
But the problem of incompatibility with Mac users remains. Enterprises could, of course, use OpenOffice or NeoOffice and keep compatible with Office 2007. Sun Microsystems and Novell have collaborated on building VBA interoperability for OpenOffice.
The last thing Microsoft wants, though, is for its lucrative Office for Mac market to migrate to OpenOffice. It will be telling, therefore, to see how far Microsoft deals with the VBA incompatibility problems during the next year.®
This story has been updated. We wrongly reported Microsoft is stopping support for VBA in Office. Thanks to Microsoft and readers who contacted us to point out our mistake. Apologies for any misunderstanding.
VBA isn't going Anywhere
I work on the team at Microsoft which implements VBA in Office and I can tell you that VBA will absolutely continue to ship in the next version of Office (14).
I'm not sure where Phil is getting his information, but his assertion that we're dropping VBA support from Windows Office is false.
VBA is NOT going from Office 14
I have it on very good authority that there is, in fact, an error with this article. And I blame it on speculation and rumours!!
VBA is NOT being phased out.
VBA will DEFINITELY be in at least the next version of Office for Windows (currently codenamed Office 14 - there's no 13). Microsoft may be many, many things, but one thing they are NOT is stupid. They wouldn't risk alienating the majority of corporations who have Excel spreadsheets. They also are listening to Access developers and are making Access more robust, with more features - so to remove VBA would just be stupid.
Tearing out functionality
The VBA functionality was useful. It meant that an average joe with a bit of programming knowledge could easily write a function or "macro". I've not tried Visual Studio for Office, but I imagine that apart from having to buy it, you'll need to learn VS, learn VB.NET and fluff around integrating your code into Excel. A bit like 1992 and the C-language library.
Security seems to dominate everything nowadays, The issues VBA had with security (programs could edit files and thus perpetuate themselves / corrupt the OS) have largely been worked round. I haven't seen a VBA virus for years.
I want to do my computing on a motorbike, not a Volvo. If I fuck up it'll hurt, but I'll get around a whole lot quicker and it'll be more fun.