Sunday 9 February 2014

Key concepts

This post describes some key concepts relating to macros and shortcut keys.  It also outlines the rationale used for some of the methods used.

Read this before using the Document Productivity Tools for the first time is recommended.

Related Posts: Welcome to Document Productivity


The Document Productivity Tools are built using macros. Macros are programs written in Office's programming language, Visual Basic (VBA).  As an analogy, think of a macro as an App written in VBA.  

There are two ways to create a macro:
  • You can record a regular task as a macro and then repeat the actions over again by running the macro.  This is common in Excel, but possibly less so for Word and Visio where layouts and actions are less likely to be repetitive.
  • Macros can be written using the VBA editor that comes with Office.  Later posts will describe how this is done.
The two methods can be mixed, you might record a macro to get the basics and then use the editor to refine the process. This approach is a good way to start learning the basics of VBA programming.

Macros run on installed versions of Office, so if you are using Office 365 from the Cloud then you wont  be able to use them. 

Shortcut Keys

Office programs allow you to assign shortcut  keys to functions that you use regularly so that you can invoke them in the quickest way possible. 

Regularly used Document Productivity Tools have been allocated to a shortcut key.
Occasionally used tools are invoked from a popup Quick Menu.
A list of the Document Productivity shortcut key assignments is given in the Downloads Tab.  This list is only a suggestion, and you can allocate tools to different keys if necessary or, with a little coding, you could create your own  the use of Quick Menu-like methods could be extended.

Finding  as suitable key to use as a shortcut  isn't easy because many keys already have useful functions assigned to them.  At the bottom of this post is a list of useful sites listing standard key assignments that might be useful.

Remembering shortcut keys takes a bit of practice, that is why Microsoft provides the Ribbon and context  (right click) menus.  Coding for the Ribbon or for context menus isn't easy, especially for Visio. Document Productivity Tools use basic tools so that they can be readily used and understood by non programmers.  

In later posts, code to use the Ribbon and context menus will be provided for Word and Excel.  Coding for them in Visio uses some advanced concepts, and these can be supplied on request.

Standard Shortcut Key Assignments

The next post describes the preparation steps necessary to use the Tools provided for Word.

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