From VBA to C Part 2 – the Resources I use

So if you want to do the C++ XLL journey, where do you start, and what do you need?

I started by choosing the software I was going to install on my development system.

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (C++ compiler & development environment)
  • Planatech XLL Plus (integrates into Visual Studio for XLL development)
  • Excel 2010

The above 2 are my key tools I work with all the time.
Then to deliver a finished commercial product I also use:

  • Setup Factory 9 (for my custom installation scripts)
  • Snagit (screen grabs for documentation etc)
  • Macromedia Fireworks (graphic conversions & custom graphics)
  • Component One Doc-to-Help & Word 2010 (CHM help and Manuals)
  • Excel 2000 through Excel 2010 (both 32 and 64 bit, for testing)
  • Windows 7 32 bit with a dual boot Windows 7 64 bit for Excel 2010 64-bit
    • (you can’t do performance testing in a virtual environment)

The absolute gold nugget in this heap of software is Planatech XLL Plus. It has saved me an unbelievable amount of time and vastly reduced the learning curve (albeit from vertical to steep). And the support, both for how-do-i-do-this and this-does-not-seem-to-work, is outstanding.

I pretty soon added the Boost C++ Library as an extension to the STL library that comes with C++. These 2 libraries add a huge amount of framework/template power to the project.

I initially tried several C++ books before settling on:

  • C++ Primer Plus 5th edition by Stephen Prata – I strongly recommend this for getting to grips with C.
  • Financial Applications using Excel add-in development in C++ by Steve Dalton – the bible on XLL development.

Later on I added:

  • The C++ Standard Library by Nicolai Josuttis – if you need a STL reference
  • The Boost C++ Libraries by Boris Schaling – help with Boost
  • Ribbon X by Robert Martin, Ken Puls and Teresa Hennig

Do you really need all this stuff to start writing C++ UDFs?

No, of course you don’t.  I started with the XLL Plus Quick Start guide and some very basic C++ syntax:

  • Curly brackets {} and semicolons ;
  • longs, Doubles and booleans
  • C++ is case-sensitive (!*<!)
  • IF statements
  • FOR loops

With that and XLL plus I was very soon writing UDFs that worked.

The next post in this series will show you how to write a simple XLL UDF.


This entry was posted in VBA, XLL. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to From VBA to C Part 2 – the Resources I use

  1. Steve says:

    This sounds like an ad for Planatech XLL Plus. Where is your disclaimer?

    Just joshing you. Love your Blog.

    • fastexcel says:

      For the record: I am not connected to Planatech and do not get a discount on their products and have no fincial incentive etc etc etc: but as a happy customer I strongly recommend them!

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