Book review - Learn Spreadsheet Macros

Phil Shapiro
PC World
Tuesday, September 14, 2010; 12:19 AM

Learn Spreadsheet Macro Programming: OOoBasic and Calc Automation, by Dr. Mark Alexander Bain

220 pages, December 2006

$36 (hard copy); $16 (ebook)

Packt Publishing

Note: This book review was conducted as an audio interview of macros expert John Dukovich, by Phil Shapiro, using Audacity, the free sound recording and editing software. The review is available in transcript form below and can also be accessed on YouTube. ( The following is a lightly edited transcript of the audio interview.

The audio interview itself is about ten minutes in duration. It took about an hour to create and required far less effort than sitting down to collaboratively write a book review. The interview was created in five short segments, where, in between each audio segment, the ensuing audio segment was planned. After the audio interview are some follow-up written comments by reviewer John Dukovich.

My name is John Dukovich. I'm with Green Moon Solutions, a small technology company in the Washington, DC, area. I've been working with Microsoft Office applications, basically since they came out, and I'm a heavy user of Excel macros and Visual Basic for Applications language. I do quite a few applications for clients and use macros in ways that a lot of people don't.

Instead of just manipulating spreadsheet information, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes calculations and user GUI interface kinds of things that I do. So I'm quite familiar with Excel macros. I shied away from OpenOffice Calc for quite a while because initially I heard the macro feature wasn't as good as Excel's. And years ago, there wasn't a good conversion between the two.

However, when I got my hands on this book, Spreadsheet Macro Programming, I was curious and hoped to find I was wrong, that this would open up new opportunities for clients and organizations that want to get away from Microsoft Office, clients who are already using OpenOffice, so I was really interested to see the level of capability that Calc had in its macro programming.

So with that background, I found the book to be very informative to someone like me. It almost felt as if it were written for me. But I tried to step back from that, because of the experience of a lot of my clients who are not programmers -- who don't have a lot of technical background and who use spreadsheets in the way a lot of people do, as databases and things like that. And so I tried to step back and from their point of view ask, ?Would this book help me out if I were in that situation?? And for some people it would and it would at least give them an idea of the capabilities that are there. However, there are several times in the book where the author says, ?Okay, here is how we do this and now we are going to move onto something else, so if you're interested in exploring this in more detail, go to this Website. Go to the Website, where they have detailed user guides and that type of thing.?

?If someone uses OpenOffice 3, would this book, written for OpenOffice 2, still be applicable??

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