Links to VBA Functions

Allen Browne Functions Index

Technet list of functions

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What’s the difference between Sub Routines and Functions

I was curious Sub Routines and Functions appear to perform almost the same thing what is the difference and what are their relative advantages?

Functions return a value that is stored whereas subs don’t. The main difference is not only the return value, it seems that subs are faster than functions (at least in .net) because the MSIL code of subs is much shorter when no value is returned. so overall subs are faster when no value is returned.

MSIL stands for Microsoft Intermediate Language – which is the a programming language that has been standardized later as the Common Intermediate Language

Functions vs Sub Routines

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Typical While Loop VBA

Function TypicalWhileLoop()
'This performs the same as next loop but uses the while loop

Dim LCounter As Integer
LCounter = 1

While LCounter < 10 MsgBox (LCounter) LCounter = LCounter + 1 Wend End Function

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Typical For Next Loop

Function TypicalForNextExample()
'This performs the same as the while loop but uses for next

Dim i As Integer

For i = 1 To 9
MsgBox (i)
Next i

End Function

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Typical DAO.Recordset VBA for looping through and altering

Function TypicalDAOrecordset()

'Make sure the name of the recordset is unambiguous
'Good practice to reference the actual library

Dim rs As DAO.Recordset
Dim db As DAO.Database
Set db = CurrentDb
Set rs = db.OpenRecordset("SELECT * FROM T001Main where T001Main.ValueNumber = 0")

'the data source can be a Table Name a query name or an sql string
'it would be possible to change the SQL to set to another set of records
'Check to see if there are any records in the set

If Not (rs.EOF And rs.BOF) Then
'there are no records if End of File and beginning of file are both true


Do Until rs.EOF = True
rs!ValueNumber = 300
MsgBox "No Records available for updating exit sub"
Exit Function
End If
MsgBox "Looped through the records and updated ValueNumber field"

Set rs = Nothing
Set db = Nothing

'libraries for DAO can be found on AllenBrowne site
'remember to break an infinite loop press ctrl + break

End Function

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VBS – Pieces of code

Shutdown computer
Option Explicit
Dim oShell
Set oShell = Wscript.CreateObject("Wscript.Shell")
oShell.Run "SHUTDOWN -T 60 -S" 'wait 60 seconds before shutting down

Trigger speech
Option Explicit
Dim speechobject
set speechobject=createobject("sapi.spvoice")
speechobject.speak "Your system is setup and ready for your day"

Delay for Seconds (10)
Option Explicit
Dim dteWait
dteWait = DateAdd("s", 10, Now())
Do Until (Now() > dteWait)

Sleep Function for Delay – Count in Milliseconds (5 mins below)
WScript.Sleep 5*60*1000

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MS Access VBA Function – Count Numbers of Records in Tables and list.

Not quite finished yet but place here for later correction.

Public Function CountAllTablesRows()

Dim rs As New ADODB.Recordset
Dim rsRC As New ADODB.Recordset
Dim strTbName As String
Dim lngRowCount As Long
Dim tbl As TableDef
CurrentProject.Connection.Execute "Delete from TABLE_INFO"
rs.Open "TABLE_INFO", CurrentProject.Connection, adOpenDynamic, adLockOptimistic
For Each tbl In CurrentDb.TableDefs
Select Case Left(tbl.Name, 4)
Case "mSys"
Case Else
rsRC.Open "Select count(*) as The_Count from [" & tbl.Name & "]", CurrentProject.Connection, adOpenForwardOnly, adLockReadOnly
rs.Fields("TBL_NAME") = tbl.Name
rs.Fields("TBL_ROWCOUNT") = rsRC.Fields("The_Count")
Set rsRC = Nothing
'Debug.Print tbl.Name
End Select
Set rs = Nothing

MsgBox "Counted Numbers in Table"

End Function

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Using VBA to write Word Document

Writing to Microsoft Word

Firstly a warning – this creates doc documents that can be opened in Word 2010 but are strictly speaking 03 iterations hence the doc suffix

First need to load in the library for Microsoft Word (this is 2003 version)


Then you are free to open and manipulate the items in Microsoft word..

Private Sub Command_Click()
On Error GoTo Err_Command_Click

Dim wrdApp As Word.Application
Dim wrdDoc As Word.Document

Set wrdApp = CreateObject("Word.Application")
Set wrdDoc = wrdApp.Documents.Add ' create a new document
wrdApp.Visible = True
‘this line can be altered to not open the document on the screen

With wrdDoc

With .Styles(wdStyleHeading1).Font
.Name = "Arial"
.Size = 16
.Bold = True
.Color = wdColorBlack
End With
With .Styles(wdStyleHeading2).Font
.Name = "Arial"
.Size = 12
.Bold = True
.Color = wdColorBlack
End With
With .Styles(wdStyleNormal).Font
.Name = "Arial"
.Size = 10
.Color = wdColorBlack
End With

.Content.ParagraphFormat.LineSpacingRule = wdLineSpaceExactly
.Content.ParagraphFormat.LineSpacing = 10

.Range(0).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading1)
.Content.InsertAfter "ThIS SHOULD BE HEADING1"

.Range(.Characters.Count - 1).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading2)
.Content.InsertAfter "THIS SHOULD BE HEADING2"

.Range(.Characters.Count - 1).Style = .Styles(wdStyleNormal)
.Content.InsertAfter "THIS SHOULD BE NORMAL"

.SaveAs ("C:\CreatedWordDoc.doc")
.Close ' close the document
End With ' With wrdDoc

wrdApp.Quit ' close the Word application
Set wrdDoc = Nothing
Set wrdApp = Nothing

Exit Sub

MsgBox Err.Description
Resume Exit_Command5_Click

An article on libraries specifically related to MS Access is available here

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Using VBA and Databases to create HTML

Here’s some code I used to generate HTML for a web configuration file. It takes a database (the current open one) then looks to a query called QueryTargetInformation and places the fields – PlaceName / EastingMn / NorthingMn / EastingMx / NorthingMx in a HTML Structure and creates a file called CodeGeneratedHTML.txt place it on the C drive.

I put around 1,000 repeated links in HTML configuration file using this.

This was for a web mapping application – the eastings and northings were obtained from Ordnance Survey Open Source shape files from Ordnance Survey and then QGIS to get the eastings and northings of a variety of locations. These were transferred into the relevant columns of a database and this code triggered from the onclick event of a form command.

Private Sub Command_Click()
On Error GoTo Err_Command_Click

Dim rst As DAO.Recordset
Set rst = CurrentDb.OpenRecordset("QueryTargetInformation")
Dim fs, TextFile
Set fs = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set TextFile = fs.CreateTextFile("c:\CodeGeneratedHTML.txt", True)
Do Until rst.EOF = True
TextFile.WriteLine ("")
TextFile.WriteLine (" ")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!EastingMn & "")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!NorthingMn & "")
TextFile.WriteLine ("
TextFile.WriteLine (" ")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!EastingMx & "")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!NorthingMx & "")
TextFile.WriteLine ("
TextFile.WriteLine ("

MsgBox "Created CodeGeneratedHTML File in C drive"

Exit Sub

MsgBox Err.Description
Resume Exit_Command_Click

End Sub

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The Economics of Immortality (part 2) and a real reason for moving platform.

The announcement in December 2014 that Microsoft was releasing a version of Visual Studio Community to virtually everyone for free and then again a further announcement in February 2016 of Microsoft’s purchase of Xamarin and subsequent release with VS community edition suggests to me that my theory that cost of development tools should steadily reduce to next to nothing is on the button. Still it comes as a surprise that it seems to be happening so quickly. This can only be a good thing especially when considering that increasingly, any application can be developed locally and sold globally or at least published internationally.

In my opinion it is looking more and more likely that the best reason for moving legacy systems to new platforms will in the future not be cost savings but rather revenue possibilities of resulting systems. In a word Software as a Service. But why will anyone one want to create their own Services rather than paying to be a customer of others? Two reasons – number one – at present the field is wide open and in many fields there is a complete lack of rich software out there applicable to individuals problem, secondly the caution with which some individuals will relinquish their information and knowledge of their tools – in that respect revenue generation might just be a nice optional bonus. I do think that different categories of software will progress at different rates and maybe in that respect we can look to Accounting software to see the future for other categories. Everyone is interested in money and the shear ubiquity of the requirement for accounting support has focused resources heavily on tools resulting in a healthy market of options for customers for online software. There are still sticking points in the form of cost especially when being charged on a per seat basis but it is no longer really practical for any individual organisation to develop their own accounting software especially when you can choose both on quality and price in the wider national markets. But outside of accounting the choice of products seem to be somewhat scarce.

So it seems its early days for Software as a Service but certainly maybe the question should be not what legacy systems need replacing but…

What tool do you have at your work which you think with a redesign could be used by others by publishing to the web?

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Using Task Scheduler and Visual Basic Scripts to automate pretty much anything Win 7

This is hardly ground breaking but windows Task Scheduler can be used to run VBS scripts on a variety of events to automate repetitive and boring tasks. Backups for example or refreshing caches on web browsers before users come in.

Hit Window button

Type “Task Scheduler”

Press return you should get the following screen.


Make sure Task Schedule Library is selected in the tree on the left then within Actions sub window on the right click Create


Give the Task a name in the area above marked with a red arrow and then go to the actions Tab where you can use the New… button to navigate to the vbs file you wish to run.


Next use the browse button OR if you know the path and file name simply type in the path to your visual basic script you would like to run. Here I have put in an imaginary backup script. Next go to the Trigger tab and again hit the New… tab

The Begin Task selection list gives a good indication of when you want to trigger whatever tasks.


If we continue with the theme and run a vbs script to do a backup at 11:48 everyday


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Early and Late Binding


Good article on Early and Late Binding

MSDN Early and Late binding

Coding can appear very complicated sometimes but to simplify the difference in terms of implementation this line is very clear;

The only difference between early binding and late binding (in terms of the code you write) is in the variable declaration.

Or it could be an excuse to post a really nice picture of some bindings.

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nuBuilderPro – Import csv into a table of your application MySQL database (Its very easy)

I don’t know about you but for me its pretty rare to start an application without any information. At the very least there may be lookup tables or you have information collected in a spreadsheet. Thus when I came to nuBuilderPro one of the first things I researched was how to get information into a table. nuBuilderPro uses a vanilla version of mySQL in the background so this is what we will be working with. We will be attempting to import a csv file. You will need a clean organised csv file.

First create the tables that you require information to go into. Ensure that you have exactly the same table structure as the csv file that you wish to import. Therefore either adjust the table or the csv appropriately. Failure to have the same structure will halt the import.

Next navigate to the administration panel using your particular variation of the below url. Note that it is important to have the / at the end of the url otherwise you will be taken to the more specific database administration page where you design forms. Don’t worry if this happens you can still get to the php administration page by hitting the databases button. In fact this is an alternative way of getting to the screens that I show here.

Use your username and password to get into the nuadmin index panel

Once you have entered your username and password appropriately you should be at the following address


Now select the small spanner sign in the top right – this takes you to the php admin section for your whole VPS there are other ways of going into this web page but we will go this way for now.
You should be taken to a section which looks as follows


All databases within your VPS should be listed on the left. Each new application will have a database created for it. Each database holds all the required tables that hold your database and are listed on the left hand side. Click on the database in question and then hit structure. You are interested not just in the database but also the particular table. There is a notification grey line at the top of the page which shows you what database and what table you are in.

Importing a csv is a straightforward process of hitting the import button at the top selecting the csv file and hitting the go button. If the csv file contains column names you may wish to alter the row at which import starts.


Once import has been completed it will indicate how many lines were imported and how long it took. If there are problems you will obtain a message indicating so. I tried to create a simple Russian / English dictionary and it was really very straightforward. It is important that the csv has the right number of columns as per your designed table.

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nuBuilderPro – a database driven Web Framework for simple Form Design

I have been seeking a way of designing simple web forms for a reasonable cost for some time. I was continually coming across either very professional products with really quite large annual charges (alpha anywhere) or alternatively products that charge a per seat cost for users (zoho creator). Fine I don’t mind paying for software I really don’t but what about a project that only brings in $2000 dollars a year how can I justify Alpha Anywhere’s costs for that or how can I give access to individuals who will need an application very rarely but for whom there is real value in knowing this information. I have long believed that software costs should be coming down in cost rather than ever increasing and getting users interested in your applications is often impossibly hard at the best of times when there is no cost let alone when you tell them that they need to shell out for a subscription. What happens to the user who only needs something once in a blue moon or a user not from within your department within a section where you have no control of the budget? I’ve recently had a lot of success with open source software and as a result I have been scouring the internet for options for some years. Recently I found a project called nuBuilderPro from an Australian based development house called nuSoftware. nuBuilderPro is version 3 of what I think is their own framework. It looked good and what’s more although based on the LAMP stack which is something I’ve had very little dealings with they offered a fully hosted VPS service where I could experiment and get my bearings. They completely host the development environment for a very very reasonable price. Given that I didn’t know whether it was going to be useful to me yet this seemed an ideal opportunity to experiment. It has only been a short time since sign up but I can already see that it will prove useful. I have signed up for the most basic of server accounts and at 17th of January created 3 very basic applications. All in about 3 hours of work. Thats what I like to see proper RAD development.

The website is here.

And the options for hosting are here

Importantly you can start small get to know the product and work up – additional users do NOT cost you extra money, login security comes built in and you are free to design as many applications as you can fit within your VPS. Given that when I first signed up I didn’t have any users or applications and didn’t know how to design applications, this seemed completely ideal.

So far it looks like I’m going to use it for small but important applications that need very quick development that are very distributed. That’s not to say it couldn’t be used for much larger applications but I need to run before I can walk. Given the underlying database engine and stack it is likely that it will be able to handle much bigger projects than I am likely to throw at it. Although Open Source all but the top of the stack has been in solid development for many years I guess the question mark is over the control management framework for the database integration and form building UIs which is somewhat new and untested. I would very likely have gone with something like Lightswitch but Microsoft have been giving a distinct lack of commitment to any one RAD web tool recently. Certainly it is true that very few individuals seem to know about it and the forum is somewhat quiet compared with some open source projects. Importantly though I haven’t come across any other open source projects with the price model that they have and importantly I can easily get any information in and out so I don’t believe I am taking any risk. I hope to be investigating it further over the coming months. From what I have seen so far I am very impressed and did I say it had a unique price model anyway watch this space!

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MS Access and Forms – Create a Filtered Autonumber for Child Records

The following uses a function and the before update event of a form.

Sometimes it can be useful to have some kind of order field in the child records to indicate the order or version numbers of items. Although an incrementing Primary Key can be used child records may be in the thousands and if related to the parent you may want a simple almost ranking within the group. Which may be more meaningful when viewed filtered according to the parent.

A particular case may be where you are storing documents which have some kind of version.

Public Function GetChildCount(OrderNo as Integer) As Integer

Dim intCount as Integer
intCount = DCount("FKID","[ParentTable]","[FKID]=" & OrderNo)
GetChildCount = IntCount + 1

End Function

This counts the number of records with the same FKID in the table called ParentTable with a FKID equal to OrderNo

Then within the before update event of the Sub_Form

Private Sub Form_BeforeUpdate(Cancel As Integer)

If Me.NewRecord Then
Me.Order = GetChildCount([SiteID])
End If

End Sub

The If statement just ensures that when you edit a record the order is not updated to the count of the child records if a count already exists in the field Order.

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VBA Function Boolean Switch to test for specific character sets within a field

Boolean Switch to test for specific character sets within a field. This codes tests whether a field contains blanks or the specified characters only and will return -1 if true and 0 if false. If a character occurs that is not within the LValid_Values it will return 0 as false. This is different from identifying whether a field contains the listed characters. This can be useful for identifying characters in a field that you are wanting to alter the variable type. MS Access (and other databases) will delete field values that cannot be converted so if possible you want to identify values with illegal characters. This code can be used to identify this. Change the value of LValid_Values to represent the allowable characters and then you can reference the function in a query to identify illegal records and values. My primary use case is testing for numerical values in a string field which I am looking to alter so that I can change it into a long integer variable type. This is particularly useful for hunting down things like letters in house numbers or slashes in flat identities.

Function CharCheck(targetField) As Boolean

Dim LPos As Integer
Dim LChar As String
Dim LValid_Values As String

'Start at first character in strField
LPos = 1

LValid_Values = ".0123456789"

'Test each character in strField
While LPos <= Len(targetField)

'Single character in strField
LChar = Mid(targetField, LPos, 1)

'If character is not LValid Value, return FALSE
If InStr(LValid_Values, LChar) = 0 Then
CharCheck = False
Exit Function
End If

'Increment counter
LPos = LPos + 1


'Value is LValid Value, return TRUE
CharCheck = True

End Function

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Ranking of Child Records according to Groups

Imagine you have a school full of Students and they have done a variety of exams. All results are collected in a table and you would like to obtain rankings by subject. How can you automatically rank all the students for whom you have results.

The table T01Student
PKID Students Marks Subject
1 Tony 34 Maths
2 Bob 32 Maths
3 Thor 48 Maths
4 Jack 42 Geography
5 Tom 41 Geography
6 Kate 45 Geography
7 Sid 26 Geography
8 Michael 40 Chemistry
9 Colin 50 Chemistry
10 Hannah 60 Chemistry
11 Geoff 5 Chemistry
12 Jim 2 Chemistry

It is then possible to use the following query to get a ranking
SELECT (select count(*) from T01Student as tbl2 where T01Student.marks < tbl2.marks and T01Student.subject = tbl2.subject)+1 AS rank, * INTO TempRank FROM T01Student;

rank PKID Students Marks Subject
2 1 Tony 34 Maths
3 2 Bob 32 Maths
1 3 Thor 48 Maths
2 4 Jack 42 Geography
3 5 Tom 41 Geography
1 6 Kate 45 Geography
4 7 Sid 26 Geography
3 8 Michael 40 Chemistry
2 9 Colin 50 Chemistry
1 10 Hannah 60 Chemistry
4 11 Geoff 5 Chemistry
5 12 Jim 2 Chemistry

Then use a simple select query to order by subject then rank - Note Depending if you want to count down from the top so the lowest “Marks” gets the highest rank reverse the < symbol or reverse the order of rank - here I have highest mark is no 1.

Subject rank Students Marks
Chemistry 1 Hannah 60
Chemistry 2 Colin 50
Chemistry 3 Michael 40
Chemistry 4 Geoff 5
Chemistry 5 Jim 2
Geography 1 Kate 45
Geography 2 Jack 42
Geography 3 Tom 41
Geography 4 Sid 26
Maths 1 Thor 48
Maths 2 Tony 34
Maths 3 Bob 32

If for some reason you are wanting to store the rank so that you can artificially alter the ranking then it would be possible to use make table to create a new table with the ranking and then update a position field with the rank in the ranking query based on the PKID

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QGIS 2.8.1 – Useful Functions and Operators – Field Calculator

Calculate eastings and northings of centroid within polygon layer

Calculate area and perimeter of a polygon layer

Calculate eastings and northings of a point layer

Calculate the length of a line layer

Capitalise column values
eg upper(Town)
Edinburgh becomes EDINBURGH

Camel case column values
EDINBURGH becomes Edinburgh
DUDDINGSTON LOCH becomes Duddingston Loch

Lower case column values

Replacethis withthat in string
replace(string, replacethis, withthat)

Concatenate string a and string b
Concatenate a || b

Division and next line Multiplication

area/10,000 – divides area field by 10,000 (eg going from m2 to Hectares

Remove decimals from a field
eg 7954.235 becomes 7954 and 456525.325 becomes 456525

Index a set of polygons

Functions and Operators Official Notes for Field Calculator

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QGIS 2.8.1 Getting Shape Files into SQL Server 2008 Express R2

For digital mapping the shp extension is the equivalent of csv files – A significant amount of information is still held in shape files and even if it is not, nearly every GIS package can export to shape format. It’s therefore pretty vital that you understand how to get this format into your backends.

Turns out QGIS 2.8.1 comes with a very handy excecutable called ogr2ogr.exe
On my computer this was downloaded with my installation of QGIS 2.8.1 and placed in the the following directory

C:\Program Files\QGIS Wien\bin

It looks like this executable has been a part of the the download for sometime so if you are on a different version of QGIS I suspect the file will be on your machine but in a directory other that QGIS Wien – whatever your version is.

If in doubt a simple search on ogr2ogr should give you the location.

From the command prompt you need to either navigate to the location of ogr2ogr.exe or place the full path into the instruction. In the following I have navigated to the appropriate directory using change directory command at the prompt. I then input the following.

ogr2ogr -overwrite -f MSSQLSpatial "MSSQL:server=MARK-LENOVO\SQLEXPRESS;database=Geodatabase;trusted_connection=yes" "C:\Users\Mark\Documents\shp\polygon\n_america.shp"

On return it will start to import the information creating a new table in your SQL Server instance within the database listed in your parameter string. It looks like it just names the table the same as the shape file, I suspect if that name already exists as a tablename in SQL Server that table will be overwritten with the new shape file. Also note that the import process can take a fair bit of time for large files so be patient. I tested it initially with a small import which it did relatively quickly, I then went and hit it with 500 thousand records and it took a little over 2 hours. Still good to know that it can cope.

Once you have imported the information into SQL you should perform some form of spatial indexing on the table.
I have noted that layers that have spatial indexing are drawn differently than non spatial indexed layers. Layers with spatial indexes are drawn in more rapidly all over the district much like a spray from a can. Non spatial indexed layers appear on screen slower as if painted from one side to the other.

Posted in All, Geographical Information Systems, QGIS 2.8.1, SQL 08 R2, SQL Server, Win 8.1 | Comments Off on QGIS 2.8.1 Getting Shape Files into SQL Server 2008 Express R2

QGIS 2.8.1 Raster / Extraction / Clipper – Extent Quick Reference

Raster Extraction Conversion guide landscape paper standard scales -SRID27700

Assumes that you are taking the map to the very edge of a landscape paper if you require a border you will need to use formula. Reverse calculations for portrait papers

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