Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
What Makes a Good Utility?
What Makes a Good Utility?
An Excel utility, of course, should ultimately make your job easier or more efficient. But if you’re
developing utilities for other users, what makes an Excel utility valuable? I’ve put together a list
of elements that are common to good utilities:
h It adds something to Excel. This addition could be a new feature, a way to combine
existing features, or just a way to make an existing feature easier to use.
h It’s general in nature. Ideally, a utility should be useful under a wide variety of conditions.
Of course, writing a general-purpose utility is more difficult than it is to write one that
works in a highly defined environment.
h It’s flexible. The best utilities provide many options to handle various situations.
h It looks, works, and feels like an Excel command. Although adding your own special
touch to utilities is tempting, other users will find them easier to use if they look and act
like familiar Excel commands and dialog boxes.
h It provides help for the user when needed. In other words, the utility requires
documentation that’s thorough and accessible.
h It traps errors. An end user should never see a VBA error message. Any error messages
that appear should be ones that you write.
h Users can undo its effects. Users who don’t like the result caused by your utility should
be able to reverse their path.
Text Tools: The Anatomy of a Utility
In this section, I describe an Excel utility that I developed and use very frequently. It’s also part of
my Power Utility Pak add-in. The Text Tools utility enables the user to manipulate text in a
selected range of cells. Specifically, this utility enables the user to do the following:
h Change the case of the text (uppercase, lowercase, proper case, sentence case, or toggle
case).
h Add characters to the text (at the beginning, at the end, or at a specific character
position).
h Remove characters from the text (from the beginning, from the end, or from a specific
position within the string).
h Remove spaces from the text (either all spaces or excess spaces).
h Delete characters from the text (nonprinting characters, alphabetic characters,
nonnumeric characters, non-alphabetic characters, or numeric characters).
 
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