Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
F.3 C and C++
to a more modern tool, Microsoft Foundation Classes, which is still not for the casual
programmer.)
But Microsoft wanted more people to be able to create Windows applications, since it was good
for business. So in 1991, the company introduced Visual Basic (VB for short), which essentially
combined the BASIC language with a visual programming environment so users could easily
create graphical components, such as windows, command buttons, text boxes, option buttons, and
menus that are required by Windows applications. The underlying language for VB is called
Visual Basic for Applications , or VBA for short, although this term was not coined until later in
the development of VB.
The first version of Visual Basic was little more than an interesting toy. It did not really have the
power to create serious Windows applications. However, it provided a necessary starting point for
further development of the product. Each successive version of Visual Basic has taken major steps
forward in sophistication, so that now VB is by far the most widely used programming language
for PCs. (Microsoft estimates that over three million people use some form of Visual Basic, about
half of whom program using some form of Office VBA, the rest using the standalone VB product.)
While Visual Basic has become a very respectable tool for creating standalone Windows
applications, the real popularity of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) lies in the fact that it is
the underlying programming language for the Microsoft Office application suite, which probably
has closer to 100 million users, each of whom is a potential VBA programmer. Indeed,
presumably the reason that you are reading this topic is that you want to join the group of VBA
programmers.
VBA is a high-level programming language that underlies several important Windows
applications, including Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint, as well as Microsoft
Visual Basic. In addition, companies other than Microsoft can license VBA and use it as the
underlying programming language for their applications.
Each so-called host application provides extensions to VBA to accommodate its own needs and
idiosyncrasies. For instance, since Microsoft Word deals with documents, Word VBA needs to
understand such things as headers and footers, grammar checking, page numbering, and so on. On
the other hand, since Excel deals with worksheets, Excel VBA needs to understand such things as
cells, formulas, charts, and so on. Finally, since Visual Basic is designed for writing standalone
Windows applications, it must excel at manipulating Windows controls (text boxes, command
buttons, list boxes).
F.3 C and C++
The C programming language, a descendant of several older languages (including B), was
developed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Laboratories in 1972. C is a simple language in its syntax,
with relatively few instructions. However, it has been extended considerably by Microsoft (among
others) for use in the PC environment.
The strength of C and its descendants, such as C++, are that it combines the advantages of a
highlevel programming language, such as relative readability, with the ability to reach down to the
operating system and hardware levels of the computer. Unfortunately, the power of C can
sometimes be dangerous in the hands of, shall we say, programmers of only modest capability.
Also, the syntax of C allows for what some programmers consider "clever" or "elegant"
programming style, but which may be more accurately termed "highly unreadable."
 
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