Is VBA A Programming Language?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 12/02/22 •  5 min read

VBA is part of the Microsoft Office products which include Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access along with newer programs such as Teams. It is used to automate some aspects of these programs, however, you may be asking if it is considered an actual programming language.

VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is a programming language owned by Microsoft that has been added to the back of Microsoft Office packages to help automate them. It has the capacity to be used to control a wide range of functions within those programs and is most commonly used in Excel and to a lesser degree in Access.

VBA allows users to automate routine tasks and customize the user interface to include user forms. These small subroutines which are often referred to as macros can be created either by recording your actions or by writing the code in the VBA editor.

The recording of macros, if designed carefully, can allow you to significantly reduce repetitive tasks that you do regularly within programs such as Excel. However, the recording of these macros does have some limitations. 

The main thing that macros that I recorded cannot do is create user interfaces such as message boxes and use input forms which make VBA significantly more powerful. 

Is VBA Difficult To Learn?

VBA is considered to be a relatively easy language compared to other ones that are around, however, if you do not have any significant programming experience you can use the expect it will take you a little while to be able to do the basic things that you need in Excel.

However, the advantage of code is that once you have solved a particular problem or learned how to do something it becomes easier to reapply that same code to problems later on down the track. Over time you will build up a library of code that can be implemented relatively quickly.

The biggest difficulty is ensuring that you know enough different commands in VBA for it to be useful and then to be able to debug code for syntax and logic errors. These skills will take a while to develop as finding problems in your code can be tricky early on. However, once you have acquired those skills your VBA knowledge will grow exponentially because you will be able to take code from various sources on the internet and apply them to the problems that you need to solve. 

What Can VBA Actually Do And Is It Worth Learning?

VBA has a surprisingly wide amount of things it can do which includes manipulating spreadsheets in the same way that you would do if you were doing it manually which could include things like entering formulas, inserting new rows and columns, formatting text, etc….

In addition to this VBA can allow Excel to interact with other pieces of software such as Outlook or Access to either send emails or pull in data from a database. It can also be used to create and delete files and the code can also be used to allow the macros to be activated in ways that the user may not even be aware of which include activating a macro upon changing cell value or opening or closing a file. 

As a result of this VBA can be used to solve a range of problems within most businesses which typically cost a lot of time. As being able to write VBA is still a relatively rare skill, it is extremely valuable for many employers. To see some examples of how VBA has helped me personally in my career to become an invaluable member of a team watch the video below.

How Do I Access The VBA Code?

To write VBA code for the purposes of automating Microsoft Office applications can be done in the VBA editor which is incorporated within the programs themselves. In the case of Excel, which is definitely the most commonly used application for VBA, you need to access the VBA editor through the developer tab which is not normally shown on the Excel ribbon. To make the developer tab appear select the file.

Then select options

And then select the developers’ tab which is in the main tabs section.

To access the VBA editor and record macros go to the developer tab and you will see the Visual basic button which will take you to the VBA editor.

How To Get Started With VBA

Getting started with VBA is relatively straightforward as there are many how-to videos on the internet that is free of charge along with numerous forums that are dedicated to helping you with code. However, to get started for the first time you may consider watching the video below which shows you how to set up Excel for programming and help you to create your first macro.

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Paul Smart