Last week, I complained about how bulky VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) can be. My current project is to create a spreadsheet to keep track of upcoming NCOERs. This is an easy task in anything but the most used and abused application the admin personnel in the Army use, Microsoft Excel. Now, the data is easy enough to pull once you get an SSL connection with this website (to access you need to use an AKO Username/Password.) The Interactive Web Response System will allow you to pull data on any past, due or current NCOERS (Evaluations). This is great as I can track our evaluations as they move up the chain and will see when they are late. Unfortunately, the web designers have only sorted the information by last name.
So, my basic program is complete. I can make a connection (fortunately, MSXML6.0 makes an easy post request to an SSL website… something that if using Python, is not an easy task.) It would appear that it is utilizing Internet Explorer’s library for the connection. Once the connection is made and the data is loaded, then I parse. Here is where VBA gets bulky. Fortunately, I can use a reference to VBScript’s RegEx object, but it is far from being as complete as say, any other regex engine in any other language. On top of that, parsing text through splits and such is an amazing pain. Here’s an example.
test = 'A simple "test of the languages" will show how bad VBA is!'
a = re.findall(re.compile(r'".*"',re.I),test)
print "Result = %s" % a
## Result = "test of the languages"
Private Sub CommandButton1_Click()
' must include Microsoft VBScript Regular Expressions 5.5 in references
Dim re As New RegExp
Dim testing As Variant
Dim test As String
' to escape quotes "" can be used or chr(34).
' unbelievably, chr(34) is easier to read than ""
test = "A simple " & Chr(34) & "test of the languages" & Chr(34) & " will show how bad VBA is!"
re.Pattern = Chr(34) & ".*" & Chr(34)
re.IgnoreCase = True
Set testing = re.Execute(test)
Range("A1").Value = "Result = " & testing(0)
' Result = "test of the languages" in "A1"
See the difference? I know it’s pretty close but keep in mind, this is a single line of text. Multiple lines, large text files, etc. can be horrendous. What in the world is left, mid and right anyhow? I know 90% of this is that I refuse to touch this language if I can avoid it but still, this is ridiculous!!