back to article You lucky devs: It's Microsoft Office 2016 ... and VBA lives on

Microsoft is rolling out a consistent JavaScript API across the Windows, Mac and mobile version of Office. Exploring Office development is like looking at a cross-section of an old tree; you'll find different layers from different eras, each carefully preserved for compatibility. Run the just-released Word 2016, enable the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Going back...

    “Going back to a model which is all rich client and client server, which is what those technologies were built for, doesn’t make much sense.”

    Doesn't make any sense at all. Those technologies worked, are fairly robust and widely understood, and even kept working if I wasn't connected to a network (GASP!). So they must be sacrificed on the cross of "Current". Because, yeah, when I'm changing a font in Word, I need help from some crap written in JavaScript that's running on a web server somewhere, not just a simple VBA macro. That kind of thinking is old and hideous and doesn't do anything to advance Microsoft's vision of how I should be using my computer.

    1. Naselus Silver badge

      Re: Going back...

      I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over the management screams of "CLOUD!!!! CLOUD FOR THE CLOUD GODS!!!!!!!".

    2. dcardin14

      Re: Going back...

      No joke, man! Microsoft is starting to misunderstand the size of its role in my life. I even think their SAAS model has the potential to flop if it backfires from Microsoft's excessive pushiness.

  2. RoninRodent

    Oh great, the utter nightmare of VBA .ocx controls lives on.

    del /S *.exd



    It still doesn't work? Oh look, lunchtime, go ask Barry.

  3. Novex

    VBA - Lubbly

    Bearing in mind I still occasionally* get asked to work on version of MS Access going back to 2003 where VBA still ruled, and to upgrade without loss of functionality to something more recent (mainly 2010), it's useful to still have VBA in there.

    These days though I could do with learning something new, if only I hadn't fallen on hard times and so don't have my computer equipment setup in the hovel I currently live in (otherwise I'd be learning a non-Microsoft tech like HTML/CSS on LAMP+ (P for PHP, + for C++).

    *OK, infrequently, very infrequently these days.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: VBA - Lubbly

      I started on Excel Macro Sheet in 1987. They were a lot better than 1-2-3 Macros, but not a patch on VBA once it got established.

      As to PHP and HTML. I went for an interview at a PHP shop, I downloaded the PHP WAMP stack the day before the interview and managed to cobble up a simple "Hello World" site in a few minutes and a couple of POST forms shortly thereafter. That was my first experience of PHP. After 2 weeks contracting they offered me a full time job.

      Before that I had been working mainly on Windows with VB and a bit of Java. Most modern languages are very similar in syntax and if you find a good reference site (I used w3schools when I was cramming PHP and HTML5), if you can use one language, you can pick up most others very quickly. You just need to be aware of the little differences.

      That said, I grew up with machine code and BASIC and kept on moving, I went through BCPL. COBOL. Fortran, C, C++, 4th Dimension, 1-2-3, Excel Macros, VB, Java and a host of thers.

      (With VB, I was given a 500 page Invitation to Tender, a sealed box with VB3 and told I had a week to learn VB and drum up an estimate for the Tender! Wonder of wonders, we won the contract and I managed to deliver the damned thing on time!)

      So don't sell yourself short, if you know the fundamentals of programming, you can always succeed when challenged with a new programming language.

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge


    Will this open another can of worms in the "documents can do stuff" theme that resulted in the various pop-up warnings from Office about risks from allowing macros to run, etc?

  5. channel extended

    New phish in the tank?

    Will this allow another round of VBA virii or phishing emails? My Oh My, we're all crazy now!!!

  6. joshsmith1234


    “Going back to a model which is all rich client and client server, which is what those technologies were built for, doesn’t make much sense.”

    What are these guys at MS smoking? I have been developing with VBA and even WordBasic from back to 1995. VBA is a powerful language and it's not slow at all in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. I am personally of the opinion that VBA is the absolute only reason that MS Office is still preferred by the corporate world over the competitors. If you look at the feature lists among office suites it is always just the entrenched name that people are familiar with and VBA that sets Office above the competitors. I work in investment bank finance and you would be very surprised how widely VBA is used and depended on for daily operations. If MS scraps VBA for some crappy javascript API then most large corporations such as where I work at would be unable to upgrade to that version due to business lines not being able to continue production. The same thing happened with old Internet Explorer versions. This would give competitors the opportunity they need to dethrone Office and I would personally use every bit of influence I had in my company to move away from Microsoft, although I'm not sure how successful I would be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serious?

      Totally agree with you here on all counts. In a world where google and apple make nearly everything else that Microsoft used to do, VBA for Excel was one of the things that made it still worth having a Microsoft PC. However, even for a die-hard Microsoft fan like me, it utterly pains me to see VBA support drop, Although I can program in many other languages, when it comes to spreadsheet automation, nothing even else comes close to how fast and reliable and powerful VBA was for getting the job done quickly. If all I wanted were grid-lines and numbers, then google sheets already does all of that. So I will be hanging onto my windows 7 machine for dear life, just so that I can still have the one thing that makes Microsoft useful, and I certainly will NOT be upgrading to windows 10 until they bring back a version of excel that works on it which supports VBA fully. Because without it, well, they've got nothing useful to offer me. But if the rumor in this article is true, and they do in fact bring this back, I will make the upgrade like a shot.

      So a word of advice to Microsoft...


      -(VBA was definitely one of them!!)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whatever Microsoft try to do, VBA programming and VB6 programming will continue. Microsoft would lose too many customers if they abandoned Visual Basic.

  8. aberglas

    VBA is dying of neglect

    Sure, VBA is the best development environment. Things like record a macro and effortless deployment. But it is not fashionable to the MBAs that run Microsoft. So it gets no enhancements and is slowly dying.

    A classic example is the Ribbon integration. There is no (reasonable) way to keep the handle to the ribbon after an error reset. That bug will never be fixed. Another is just the small buffer size of the immediate window. How hard would it be to increase a constant in the code? Too hard, VBA gets zero non-essential development. Task pane? Forget it.

    Eventually VBA will become unusable. And then it will be time to go to Google Sheets.

  9. johnywhy

    Is that image of the VBA editor on Mac or Windows? Your article implies that's VBA on Mac, but VBA in Excel 2016 on my Mac does not look like that at all.

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