Excel UDF IntelliSense for Excel-DNA and VBA

I’m happy to announce the first official release of the IntelliSense extension!

Excel-DNA IntelliSense provides on-sheet help for UDF functions as they are entered into a cell formula, similar to the help available for built-in Excel functions.

intellisense1intellisense2

For Excel-DNA add-ins (v0.32 and later) that already provide descriptions in the [ExcelFunction] and [ExcelArgument] attributes, no extra work is needed.
Just download and open (or install) the latest ExcelDna.IntelliSense.xll add-in from the GitHub (https://github.com/Excel-DNA/IntelliSense/releases), and the IntelliSense will light up. (There is also a NuGet package for embedding the service into your add-in, making distribution a bit easier.)
 
For VBA functions, you can add an extra sheet with the IntelliSense descriptions, or add an external .xml file with the information, or embed as a the CustomXML part in the Workbook or .xlam add-in.
Then open (or install) the ExcelDna.IntelliSense.xll add-in to provide the display service. Charles Williams, of FastExcel fame, has a detailed write-up on adding IntelliSense for your VBA function – see https://fastexcel.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/writing-efficient-vba-udfs-part-15-adding-intellisense-to-your-udfs/.
 
For PyXLL users, the latest PyXLL 3.1 release offer built-in support for IntelliSense with the ExcelDna.IntelliSense.xll add-in installed. See https://enthought.pyxll.com/whatsnew.html#intellisense.
 
Other native .xll add-ins can also provide IntelliSense through an external .xml file.
 
Details and downloads are on GitHub:
* Detailed Usage Instructions: https://github.com/Excel-DNA/IntelliSense/wiki/Usage-Instructions including details for incorporating the library into your own add-in for easier distribution.
 
Public support and bug reports:
The Excel-DNA Google group (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/exceldna) is the best place for general questions, comments etc.
Detailed bug reports and feature requests can be added to the GitHub issues list: https://github.com/Excel-DNA/IntelliSense/issues
 
Corporate support and private donations:
If you find Excel-DNA and extensions like the IntelliSense service useful, please support the project by arranging a corporate support agreement, or making a donation via PayPal. See https://excel-dna.net/support/ for details and contact information.
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Add-in spotlight: ACQ for interpolation

This is the first in an occasional series of posts about interesting Excel-DNA based add-ins.

Alex Chirokov’s ACQ add-in provides a library of interpolation routines for Excel. The add-in includes 1D and 2D interpolators, scatter plot smoothing and a Mersenne Twister random number generator.

To have a closer look:

Features I like about the add-in (apart from it using Excel-DNA) include:

  • A liberal open-source license
  • A clear and authoritative implementation of a particular domain
  • Very nice example of using object handles – an interpolator is build from the data, and then used to interpolate many values. ACQ has a clean implementation and great example of this technique.
  • All the functions have a common prefix (“=acq…”), making them easy to find in the function list, and use with the Excel-DNA IntelliSense extension.

Thank you for publishing a great add-in, Alex.

PS: ACQ has a bonus feature that implements a Sudoku solver (and generator)! See the write-up here: Sudoku Solver in Excel using C# and Excel-DNA

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Excel-DNA 0.33 Release Candidate and License Change

Version 0.33 Release Candidate

Excel-DNA 0.33 contains a number of bug fixes and improvements, including a diagnostic logging approach based on the .NET Trace classes. More details can be found in the current ChangeLog.

This version will also be the foundation for a first release of the custom Registration extension and the ongoing work towards on-sheet IntelliSense for user-defined functions.

A release candidate for the new version is available

Please help me test that the new version works correctly in the many different ways, Excel and Windows versions, and languages where Excel-DNA add-ins run.

If you run into any unexpected behaviour bugs or regressions, please post to the Google group or contact me directly.

Also, if you are able to confirm that the new version works in a particular setting, please post that too. Details about what functionality you’ve tested and what operating environment (including .NET and Excel version) you are running with, would help me a lot.

License Change

For the Excel-DNA project, I’ve changed to the standard MIT license. This has become the most common open-source license aligned with my intention of making Excel-DNA free for all use, including commercial use.

If you have any concerns with this change, please let me know.

NuGet Packages

With this version, I am re-aligning the Excel-DNA package names on NuGet with the assembly names and standard naming conventions. The main packages for this release will be:

  • ExcelDna.AddIn – Includes the .xll and creates a complete add-in when installed into a Class Library project. This is update of the “Excel-DNA” package.
  • ExcelDna.Integration – Containts only the integration reference library, suitable for referencing in third-party libraries that are intended to be used in Excel-DNA add-ins. An update of the “Excel-DNA.Lib” package.

The old packages will be updated to refer to the new ones as dependencies, which should allow package updates to work correctly.

GitHub

The Excel-DNA project is (slowly) moving to GitHub.

  • The core library project can be found at https://github.com/Excel-DNA/ExcelDna, where the latest source versions are hosted.
  • The best documentation and links to related projects and other source is still found on the old CodePlex site.
  • For general questions and discussion about Excel-DNA, please continue use the Excel-DNA Google group.
  • Specific issues, bug reports and feature requests can be added to the GitHub Issues list.
  • For a permanent book-mark to the project, please use the Excel-DNA home page at http://excel-dna.net.

Thank you for your continued support of Excel-DNA!

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Excel-DNA 0.32 Released

I’ve posted a final release of Excel-DNA version 0.32 to CodePlex (https://exceldna.codeplex.com/releases/view/119190) and the NuGet package repository (https://www.nuget.org/packages/Excel-DNA).

Excel-DNA 0.32 consolidates a large number of bug fixes and improvements that have accumulated over the last year. In particular, a number of edge cases that affect Excel-DNA add-ins under Excel 2013 have been addressed.

Native asynchronous functions, available under Excel 2010 and later, are now supported. Runtime registration of delegate functions and external retrieval of registration details will allow development of extension features without requiring changes to the Excel-DNA core runtime – see the ExcelDna.CustomRegistration project for examples of the dynamic registration: https://github.com/Excel-DNA/CustomRegistration

Excel-DNA 0.32 introduces one breaking change: integer parameter conversions are modified to be consistent with VBA. Fractional values passed to functions with integer parameters are converted using the round-to-even convention – as is the case for VBA functions. This issue is discussed in more detail at https://excel-dna.net/2014/05/03/excel-dna-0-32-breaking-changes-to-integer-and-boolean-parameter-handling/

See the Distribution\ChangeLog.txt file for a complete list of changes in this version.

As always, I greatly appreciate any feedback on this version, and on Excel-DNA in general. Any comments or questions are welcome on the Google group or by contacting me directly.

To ensure future development of Excel-DNA, please make a donation via PayPal or arrange for a corporate support agreement. See https://excel-dna.net/support/ for details.

Posted in Release

Excel-DNA 0.32 – Breaking changes to integer and boolean parameter handling

Excel-DNA version 0.32 introduces some changes in the parameter conversions applied to integer and boolean parameters. These changes improve compatibility with VBA, and make it easier to provide a consistent implementation when the conversion needs to be explicitly implemented, as for some generated methods.

In Excel-DNA versions before 0.32, UDF functions taking integer and boolean parameters were registered with the C API using the respective types, and hence the conversions were performed by Excel before calling the UDF. In Excel-DNA 0.32, these conversions are performed by Excel-DNA, with the changes discussed here. Affected functions would previously have behaved consistent with .xll add-ins made with C/C++, where registered with integer or boolean parameter types.

The new behaviour for integer conversions is that double values passed from Excel to integer parameters in UDFs are converted using the ‘Round-To-Even’ midpoint rounding convention. Previously, positive midpoint values (like 2.5) were rounded up (to 3), while negative midpoint values were rounded down (-2.5 to -3), with the exception that -0.5 was rounded to 0. Int64 (long) parameters are now also handled consistently.

One exception to the VBA compatibility guideline is that incoming boolean ‘true’ values passed to integer parameters are converted to 1, rather than -1 as would be the case with VBA. For this case I consider it more importatnt to be consistent with .NET conventions, whereby boolean ‘true’ values are represented by 1.

For conversions to boolean parameters, the main change is in how fractional values are converted to booleans. The new version is consistent with VBA – any non-zero value is converted to ‘true’.

I hope you will agree that the improved consistency is worth making these breaking changes, and that the decision will not cause any unexpected problems. As always, I appreciate any feedback, either directly or via the Excel-DNA Google group.

 


The following snapshot gives a good summary of the changes:

Image

The functions used are as follows:

public static object dnaConvertInt32(int value)
{
    return value;
}
Function VbaConvertInteger(value As Integer)
    VbaConvertInteger = value
End Function
public static object dnaConvertInt64(long value)
{
    return value;
}
public static object dnaConvertBoolean(bool value)
{
    return value;
}
Function VbaConvertBoolean(value As Boolean)
    VbaConvertBoolean = value
End Function
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Tutorial: COM server support for VBA integration

Functions and macros created in an Excel-DNA add-in can be called directly from Excel VBA by using Application.Run(…). However, .NET also supports creating rich object models that are exported as COM libraries, which can be Tools->Referenced in VBA. Excel-DNA has some advanced support to host COM-exported objects from Excel-DNA add-ins, giving some advantages over the regular .NET ‘Register for COM interop’ hosting approach:

  • COM objects that are created via the Excel-DNA COM server support will be active in the same AppDomain as the rest of the add-in, allowing direct shared access to static variables, internal caches etc.
  • COM registration for classes hosted by Excel-DNA does not require administrative access (even when registered via RegSvr32.exe).
  • Everything needed for the COM server can be packed in a single-file .xll add-in, including the type library used for IntelliSense support in VBA.

Mikael Katajamäki has written some detailed tutorial posts on his Excel in Finance blog that explore this Excel-DNA feature, with detailed explanation, step-by-step instructions, screen shots and further links. See:

Note that these techniques would works equally well with code written in VB.NET, allowing you to port VB/VBA libraries to VB.NET with Excel-DNA and then use these from VBA.

Thank you Mikael for the great write-up!

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Excel-DNA 0.32 Release Candidate

I have posted to CodePlex (https://exceldna.codeplex.com/releases/view/119190) and the NuGet package manager (https://www.nuget.org/packages/Excel-DNA/0.32.0-rc1) a release candidate of the next Excel-DNA version.
I hope to make a final release in the next few weeks, once I’ve had confirmation that this version works well on the various platforms and Excel versions.

Please test, and let me know of any problems or surprises you run into, or confirm what features, platforms and Excel versions work correctly.
The CodePlex download is structured as before, and for the NuGet package manager, you can upgrade to the pre-release version with:
    PM> Upgrade-Package Excel-DNA -Pre

——————————————-

Excel-DNA 0.32 consolidates a large number of bug fixes and improvements that have accumulated over the last year. In particular, a number of edge cases that affect Excel-DNA add-ins under Excel 2013 have been addressed.

Native asynchronous functions, available under Excel 2010 and later, are now supported. Runtime registration of delegate functions and external retrieval of registration details will allow development of extension features without requiring changes to the Excel-DNA core runtime.

Excel-DNA 0.32 is compatible with version 0.30, and introduces no notable breaking changes. See the Distribution\ChangeLog.txt file for a complete change list.

As always, I greatly appreciate any feedback on this version, and on Excel-DNA in general. Any comments or questions are welcome on the Google group or by contacting me directly.

To ensure future development of Excel-DNA, please make a donation via PayPal or arrange for a corporate support agreement. See https://excel-dna.net/support/ for details.

Thank you for your continued support,
Govert

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