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Give the VBA IDE a major overhaul finally

It's been over 20 years since the VBA IDE was created in its present form. MS has since created a number of modern and efficient development environments. Even if the VBA environment has long been referred to as outdated: it is simply the everyday reality for the majority of professional Office developers (especially all serious Access developers). I can not imagine that it lacks capacity to MS to bring the VBA IDE into a more contemporary form.

To insist that it would not be worthwhile to invest in an improved IDE, is roughly as if an automaker refuses any further developments in the wheels for 20 years, with the note that they would someday replace all wheels by air cushions.

I am thinking about things like "real" IntelliSense (comparable to that in current Visual Studio languages), extensive auto code completion, syntax checks that support the coder and do not hinder him/her, a much better integrated help system, refactoring tools, etc..
In other words: Not a newly decorated IDE, but simply an up-to-date developement tool like those in modern IDEs (Visual Studio, Eclipse, NetBeans, IntelliJ IDEA etc.). I do believe that this would not be "old wine in new bottles" but a valuable "productivity tool" for all Office developers.

323 votes
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  • D.L. Owen commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    VBA is not dead.
    You know what is dead? Many "new" replacement technologies Microsoft encouraged us to use instead. Anyone else waste time learning Lightswitch, Access Web Apps, PowerApps, Store add-ins, etc? Adoption was not great and in some cases the whole solution got deprecated. These things will never replace the macros and add-ins and Access applications people depend on daily to run the world. Millions of users deserve better than what Microsoft if offering. We can't keep pretending the VBE isn't a critical application in the 2019 enterprise.
    It needs updating.

  • Lisa commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Rubberduck is great. And it's free. My vote is not particularly to get microsoft to upgrade the VBE but to allow people to use what editors they want to use "integrated" into the VBE so that copy/paste back and forth isn't necessary.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Bill S - whining or otherwise, stating "learn to code" doesn't, in fact, encourage anyone to so do. I mean, apply that to being an artist. I realize a pencil isn't broken and it's dead simple to whip up a drawing, but does that really justify shunning people for insisting on raising the bar and going to a wacom since that's pretty much the norm - egads man, learn to freakin' draw and take your plebeian stench with you!

    Over time, iterations of Office have brought more capability to the apps overall, so it makes absolutely no sense why there wouldn't be improvements on the IDE. It could be as simple as replacing it with VS Code or patching in to VS Code.

    Too often i hear people, usually long time coders, say "there is nothing wrong with it" and while that's true - that doesn't mean it couldn't be better.

  • Bill S commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    While the IDE could use improvements rendering it competitive to a lot of other IDE's, I find a lot of comments here in nothing but a bunch of whining, because it is still easier and faster to whip up an Access Application than any other. How much intellisensing does one really need... Learn to Code!

  • Jim Conrad commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Could VBA be connected to "Visual Studio Code" tool? Maybe a keyboard shortcut would take the existing code and open it in VSC, then return it to VBA when complete?

  • Matt commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I spend 5-8 hours per day in the VBE, meaning I spend 8-10 hours per day wishing I could write VBA in VS!

  • Rodger Beard commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Most of all, I would like to see a migration path from MS Access using SQL Server to VB 6. Starting with some sort of integration of MS Access into Visual Studio.

    But within the current VBA UI, how about style sheets to apply color coloring, auto indenting, etc. according to customizable rules? Redgate does this very well with their SSMS addin SQL Prompt.

    How about applying above to those super ugly, almost impossible to read SQL statements that display when you click RecordSource or RowSource in a form's properties or the SQL view of saved queries?

    When I want to debug anything complex,especially queries I've developed with the Design UI but need to debug in a SQL syntax window, the first thing I do is copy the source into NotePad++. Then clean it up so it's actually readable. Of course when I save my easy to read code back Microsoft usually does what it does, and the formatting gone.

    Lately I've been saving my queries in text files until I know whatever I've working on actually works right in all conditions.

    I've been a developer a long, LONG time and can't believe this is still necessary.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    VBA is awesome! It enables an application Power User to extend & enhance the functionality of the application with a skill set that is above a Power User & not yet a full programmer. Or, should I say full-time programmer? I am that sort of Power User. My "day job" is managing the manufacturing business that I own. We work hard at maximizing the OOTB capabilities of Office apps & SharePoint, but OOTB capabilities don't provide all the functionality that we need. So, my "second job" is to extend the capabilities using VBA. Our business is too small to afford staff or contract programmers.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    It is so frustrating developing any type of code in the VBA IDE. This environment has essentially gone unchanged in over 20 years. Workarounds we did then, are still required now. If this is truly a dead language as Microsoft insists, why are so many companies still using it?

    VBA is easy to learn and powerful even in its current form. Just imagine how powerful it would be if it supported inheritance and refactoring. I voted 3 times!

  • Svet Dimov commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is a very valid suggestion and I am not sure when and who declared VBA and all its underlying MS Office to be outdated when all investment banks use Microsoft from analyst to managing director and these are the entities that actually have the moneys to pay for quality, professional rapid/tactical VBA application development if it weren’t for all the noise of all recent technologies and languages. And more often than not the fancy, robust, strategic, multimillion dollar systems have a button to export to Excel. No matter what R and Python developers say, VBA with Access and Excel will dominate the analytics environment simply because it is the backbone of banks - and they are the ones providing and backing financing from a 200 credit card loan to a multi-billion dollar merger.
    The current MS Forms controls with the refreshed color schemes provide an excellent environment for designer grade GUIs.
    Refreshing the IDE would be welcome by all VBA enthusiasts and professionals.

  • Brian NZ commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Got my Vote!
    Way overdue!!!

    Or perhaps as an alternative a way to edit integrated VBA Projects from Visual Studio?

  • Juan Soto, Access MVP commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    To all of you reading this post, your view is essential to getting a new IDE experience, vote today and leave a comment on why a new IDE will improve productivity, enhance the user experience and foster increased office development. The Microsoft of today is a data driven company and if we can all lend our voice to this idea it has a great chance of becoming a reality. Vote and promote it today!

  • VB6 Programming and VBA Programming commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Microsoft could do this and merge the VB6 programming language and IDE with an updated VBA IDE...

    And for Office365 this approach would allow VBA to be cross-compiled to JavaScript...

  • Mark Burns commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I am casting a vote for this even though I already Know that Microsoft has announced that they have NO INTENTION of doing any significant changes or improvements to VBA or its IDE.

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