(What’s the story) macro glory

This is a blog for Excel-loving, technical historians who secretly wish it was 1995 – and almost no-one else.

The Excel Macro.  On a literal level, it is a relic.  Microsoft stopped supporting an ancient (but great!) programming language called “Visual Basic 6” (VB6) sometime in the mid-noughties, usurping it with the far classier, future-busting, “Visual Basic Dot Net” (VB.Net).  Nowadays it is nigh impossible to buy the VB6 package without embarking on something of a treasure hunt (I got mine off eBay).

Standing in the face of this neomania is a noble language called “Visual Basic for Applications” (VBA), a sort of little brother to VB6.  Like all little brothers, though, VBA bided its time, waiting in the wings for its shot at the champion.  Like some little brothers, it got its way in the end.  Where VB6 might now be considered Palaeolithic, VBA lives on.  With each new release of Excel or Word, with each degree of modernisation, there it sits in the background, an ancient parasite in perfect symbiosis with its host.

When we write an Excel Macro, we use VBA.  The future never needed to intrude.  To my knowledge there is almost no clamour for this to change.  Based on simple population heuristics* there are (probably) more individual pieces of code stored in Excel macros than in any other language.  This means that the most common coding platform in the world was made in the nineties.

It changed by not changing at all.  The Excel Macro kept it real.



*Excel is used by most of the world’s office denizens, this leads to loads of spreadsheets being created, the proportion of them containing macros represents a minority but a significant one.  That is, there are simply loads of macros out there.