The Cell Mistress.
from from Ontario, Canada
Please introduce your self. You may be as thorough as you wish. Feel free to include or omit any detail about yourself.
I'm Debra Dalgleish, a self-employed computer consultant, living in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Most of my work is building Access databases and Excel spreadsheets, often using VBA programming to automate the two.
I have a B.A. with a Psychology major, and only used a computer in a couple of courses.
(It required taking punch cards across a windy campus, to a dark, musty office in a basement.)
I worked at the university for about ten years, and thought it was great when we got a DEC-10 terminal in our office, so we could edit student resumes in the text editor.
In 1984, we got a Macintosh computer at home, and I was immediately hooked.
For the first couple of months we only had MacPaint and MacWrite, but it was fun to play with the programs.
In 1985, I started my own business, and most of my work was in word processing and training, all of it on the Macintosh. Slowly, it evolved, and now it's all Windows-based software.
When do you remember using Excel for the very first time? Can you remember any specific details from that first time?
The first time I remember using Excel was on our Macintosh, about 1985, when I helped my daughter create a time/temperature chart for a school project.
It took about an hour to complete, because we were too stubborn to open the manual.
When do you remember writing your first formula or VBA code for Excel?
I learned to do some VBA coding shortly after I agreed to teach an introductory course on the subject.
At the beginning of the course, I explained that you could write code from scratch, but we'd use the macro recorder as a good tool for getting started, and for learning about VBA syntax.
Fortunately, the client was very pleased with the course, and my programming skills have improved a bit since then.
On average, how many hours per day do you spend working with Excel formulas and/or VBA code?
Usually a couple of hours of Excel work for clients and a couple of hours (or more) in the Excel newsgroups.
Which do you find most rewarding to work with: Formulas or VBA in Excel? Please tell us why?
I enjoy the challenge of working with VBA. There's always something new to learn, and a more efficient way to get the job done. However, you have to understand Excel's formulas and features, before you can program effectively.
If you were going to give a novice, just starting out with Excel, some advice, what would it be?
In order to solve a problem with Excel, you have to know how you would solve the problem with a pencil and paper. Excel is just a tool -- it can't do the thinking for you.
Please provide a sample of your first work (either as a formula or vba code) in Excel and tell us about it.
Much of my early code was captured by the macro recorder, and almost every second line selected something. For example:
ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "Date"
ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "Region"
Selection.Font.Bold = True
What is your mental attitude when you are preparing to write formulae or VBA code? And what is your working environment?
Because I'm an excellent procrastinator, my mental attitude is often influenced by a looming deadline. Knowing that a project must be completed in the next twelve hours is a powerful motivator, and helps you stay focused.
I like a quiet room and a comfortable chair. The only special preparation required is a switch from regular eyeglasses to computer glasses.
Finally, please give us something to think about - a reminder of your words here; a phrase that has helped you; a link to your own website. Anything that you think is important for the readers to remember.
If you're stuck on a problem, search the Google (archives
), and you'll probably find an answer or two. You don't have to memorize everything -- just know where, and how, to search for information.
My web site, Contextures
, has some Excel tips and samples, many of which are related to commands on Excel's Data menu (e.g. Validation, Filter, Sort).
Thank you very much for answering the questions.
This Black belt is yours...