Making the Transition

By Daniel Drew Turner  |  Posted 2007-05-29 Print this article Print

But with Apples move from IBMs Power PC processors to Intel chips, the Mac BU had to revamp its software development process, said Neil Ticktin, the publisher and editor-in-chief of MacTech, a magazine targeted at Mac OS X developers. Ticktin also said that, "the amount of effort it would have taken to move VBA to the new Mac Office would have delayed the release significantly." In addition, Ticktin said, "at some point—years off—VBA is going to go away and be replaced with .Net."
In an attempt to ease the transition as Office 2008s release approaches, MacTech has released "MacTechs Guide to Making the Transition from VBA to AppleScript" to help Microsoft Office users migrate their VBA scripts to AppleScript.
This is not simply an academic issue: Microsofts Office 2008, the new version of the software suite for Mac OS X due later in 2007, will not support VBA scripts and macros, on which many companies have standardized their workflows. The MacTech guide, Ticktin said, will be of use to anyone who wants to use the upcoming Office 2008 suite which will be the first version of this application to be a Universal Binary—that is, run natively on both Power PC- and Intel-based Macs. "For anyone who uses VBA macros in their workflow, now is the time to move from VBA to AppleScript," Ticktin said. Ticktin said he had been impressed by how easy it was to write AppleScripts that replaced the functionality of old VBA scripts and macros. "Itll be a real upside for some people, in that theres more you can do with AppleScript and Office—you can integrate automation with the Finder, FileMaker, other applications," he said. Nik Friedman TeBockhorst, a business applications and data manager for Penton Media, in Loveland, Colo., said that he will have to deal with the cross-platform compatibility issue if his company makes the jump to Office 2007 (on PCs) and Office 2008 (on Macs). "For the most part, were mostly PC-based," he said, noting that there are some company managers on Macs and that they need to be able to work with financial spreadsheets. "We end up not doing a lot of automation," TeBockhorst said, adding that he found that VBA support on Macs seemed "substandard" and "unreliable." "In general, Mac Excel is limited compared to the PC version in that it cant share with external databases as well," he said. TeBockhorst said that there is some interest in Mac users at his company in the upcoming Office 2008 version, mainly for the promise of improved performance on Intel-based Macs. However, he said he may end up putting the Mac-using managers on PCs, or installing a virtualization environment such as SWsofts Parallels to run a Windows version of Office on the Macs. Click here to read why Apple has delayed the release of the "Leopard" edition of the Mac OS until October 2007. If his company upgraded to Office 2007 and Office 2008, he said that hed lose the ability to manage a single version of various spreadsheets, such as expense reports, company-wide. "Id have to develop two different documents," he said. His other choice would be to just let the ten to 15 percent of his companys approximately 2,000 employees who use Macs fill the forms manually, he said. TeBockhorst added that he is aware of the AppleScript transition guide, and that he is familiar with AppleScript. However, he has not yet tried to migrate any of his companys VBA scripts. He said he doesnt see that that step would be much of a problem, and praises AppleScripts increased capability to do things such as communicate with non-Office applications. However, he said that this would do nothing to alleviate cross-platform compatibility issues. TeBockhorst said that he cant predict the direction his company will take, but he said that this situation could serve to further marginalize the companys Mac users. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on Apple in the enterprise.


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