Monday, July 28, 2014
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
But that's an aside. VBA itself is a descendant of the Microsoft's earliest BASIC, which was patterned after Dartmouth BASIC
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
A friend asked me whether Excel could reach out to SQL Server data and grab data. I haven’t checked out this facility for a long time, so whipped up Excel 2013 and gave it a whirl.
Firstly, in Excel 2007, 2010 and 2013 the external data commands have been consolidated into the External Data tab of the Excel Ribbon. That’s good and easy to find.
Secondly, Microsoft Query is still alive and well for ODBC and local database connections. Except that no cosmetic work has been done on it – it looks really ugly on Windows 8 and the File Open / Save dialogs are even older, circa Windows 3.1 Despite this, it is still the nexus that connects Excel to these data sources.
Thirdly, with the new generation Excels, data grabbed from databases is dumped into Excel Tables – which is good – one of the excellent features in new generation Excel versions is the Excel Table.
Excel External Data Sources
As you can see, Excel continues to expand it’s ability to retrieve data from many kinds of data sources.
For this discussion, we are interested in classic tabular data sources – Microsoft Access database, SQL Server database, ODBC databases.
Notice Microsoft Query is an option. This will launch Microsoft Query.
Workbook Connection and data in Excel cells
After you have defined your request, you will be able to save a separate .dqry file or embed the request directly into the current Excel file. Your Excel file will have a Workbook Connection
Defining your Microsoft Query request
Microsoft Query has a simple user interface to
- choose which database table or view/query
- choose which columns you want
- state your criteria to filter the data (parameterised stored procedures are not supported)
- choose the sort order
You can use wizard driven screens or non modal user interface – the user interface crudely looks like Microsoft Access’s Query Design screen
Microsoft Query Design Screen
More Advanced Data Retrieval
If you need to perform more complex data retrievals and coupling with parameter driven server-side Stored Procedures / Queries, you can use the VBA language in combination with Data Access Objects or ActiveX Data Objects to establish the request programmatically and form a Recordset which can then place the data into Excel cells. See KB 185125
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Fast forward to 2013 and Excel generations 2007 and later have niceties in display and useage that reduce the pain of long formulae. Courtesy of +Bill Jelen’s discussions on social media, we know that we can use:
- you can use spaces in the formula. Instead of typing A1+A2, you can type A1 + A2 chunking out the formula and improving readability. You can’t put a leading space before the first = sign. You can’t put a space between the function name and the bracket e.g. SUM( is ok, SUM ( is not
- you can use Alt+Enter to insert line breaks in the formula bar. Remember that in Excel 2007 onwards, you can pull down the floor of the formula bar, increasing the number of lines Excel will display. This allows more classic programming language display.
- you can use the Name Box when you build the formula in the Function Builder. We know that. However, did you know that you can use the Function Builder repeatedly in a formula with nested functions?
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
There are several options to screen capture classic desktop (programs):
- PrtScr to save to clipboard
- the Windows Snipping Tool
- Microsoft Office 2010 (and later) programs have an Ribbon Command – Insert > Screen Shot > Screen Clipping
- Greenshot – a very nifty free utility that can capture, save to file automatically, upload to various photo gallery sites automatically
- the Windows Problem Steps Recorder (records a screenshot every keystroke sequence or mouse action you carry out until you stop.
- and a host of third party free and paid utilities
However, the Windows 8 Apps Tiles Layer breaks your workflow – If you use one of the utilities above, after the screenshot, Windows returns to the classic Desktop. If you return to the Tiles layer, some Tile Apps lose state.
Use Windows logo key + PrtScr and the screenshot will save to My Pictures/Screenshots as a PNG file automatically, without switching to the Classic Desktop.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
W3Schools has been there for a long time. It is still well presented reference and there are some areas where you can edit some HTML interactively and see the result.
Shay Howe’s Beginner’s Guide and Advanced Guide covers significant points.
Learn CSS Layout is a deconstructive tutorial.
jQuery from the source.
Adobe Dreamweaver reference and Help center
Scan your webpage and produce several screenshots with different browsers using BrowserStack
Ok, Ok, I’m pure Microsoft Windows user. Been that since I Windows was born. I am forced to use a Mac very rarely and haven’t hit the comfort zone in this environment. But participants at classes sometimes ask
But where is the Ctrl key on the Mac?
How do I Right Mouse Click?
Where are the function keys?
Thursday, October 31, 2013
It is sad that Microsoft has sought to de-emphasise Outline View in Microsoft Word 2013 – it may be that they are optimising the user interface of these programs for Windows 8 touch tablets (Surface, Surface Pro and so on).
For putting structured thoughts to paper (think academic Thesis, comprehensive proposals and arguments), outlining is a very powerful tool and closely related to Buzan Mind Maps.
Since you are thinking out, you don’t want paper layout, fonts, or how it appears (presentation with diagrams and so on) to get in the way, you just want to write and re-organise.
Microsoft Knowledgebase 290938 has the following recommendations:
- Alt+Ctrl+P for Print Layout View
- Alt+Ctrl+O for Outline View
- Alt+Ctrl+N for Draft View
ShortcutWorld has a visually pleasant list of keystrokes.
Whilst in Outline View
- Ctrl+Tab to insert a Tab Character when in Outline View (since the Tab and Shift+Tab combination is busy)
- Numeric keypad Slash (/) to toggle display of character formatting
Dummies.com has a short and sweet list of Keyboard Shortcuts by Dan Gookin.
Tip: Ctrl+Shift+N to force the current paragraph to Normal Style
Don’t forget to visit Word MVP FAQ for some experienced insight tips.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Now, typing in Word 2013, I realise that the bar of mini icons on the bottom right of the Word window is missing the Draft Mode icon and the Outline Mode icon. They're still there in the View Tab of the Ribbon, but missing from the easy access mini icons.
Why make a fuss? Outline Mode is crucial to brain storming and re-organising the document by structure, not by pages. You can now do some of that organisation using the Document Map Pane on the far left but Outline View has lots of usability like the Style Pane.
Draft Mode frees your mind from concentrating on page formatting and margins, giving a clean screen. You don't obsess about word wrap line endings and nitty gritty formatting detail. Alternatively, for structural formatting, you can see the Style Pane, Hard and Soft Page Breaks without nausea caused by vertical jiggling.
So, you'll have to use the View Tab or add them to your Quick Access Bar