Developer FAQ - Add-Ins

Category: General VBA | [Item URL]

Note: This document was written for Excel 97 - 2000.

Where can I get Excel add-ins?

You can get Excel add-ins from a number of places:

  • Excel includes several add-ins that you can use if you need them.
  • Third-party developers sell add-ins for special purposes.
  • Many developers create free add-ins and distribute them via the Internet sites
  • You can create your own add-ins

How do I install an add-in?

You can load an add-in by using the Tools Add-Ins command, or by using the File Open command. Using Tools Add-Ins command is the preferred method. An add-in opened with the the File Open command cannot be closed without using VBA

When I install my add-in using Excel's Add-Ins dialog box, it shows up without a name or description. How can I give my add-in a description?

Before creating the add-in, use the File - Properties command to bring up the Properties dialog box. Click the Summary tab. In the Title box, enter the text that you want to appear in the Add-Ins dialog box. In the Comments field, enter the description for the add-in. Then create the add-in as usual.

I have several add-ins that I no longer use, yet I can't figure out how to remove them from the Add-Ins Available list in the Add-Ins dialog box. What's the story?

Oddly, there is no direct way to remove unwanted add-ins from the list directly from Excel. You must edit the Windows Registry and remove the references to the add-in files you don't want listed. Another way to do this is to move or delete the add-in files. Then, when you attempt to open the add-in from the Add Ins dialog box, Excel will ask if you want to remove the add-in from the list.

How do I create an add-in?

Activate any sheet and select File - Save As. Then select Microsoft Excel Add-in (*.xla) from the Save as type drop-down

I try to create an add-in, but the Save as type drop-down box doesn't provide Add-in as an option.

The most likely reason is because your workbook doesn't contain at least one worksheet.

Should I create an add-in from all of my workbooks?

No! Although you can create an add-in from any workbook, not all workbooks are suitable. When a workbook is converted to an add-in, it is essentially invisible. For most workbooks, being invisible isn't a good thing.

Is it necessary to keep two copies of my workbook -- the XLS version and the XLA version?

With versions prior to Excel 97, maintaining an XLS and an XLA version was necessary. Beginning with Excel 97, however, this is no longer necessary. An add-in can be converted back to a normal workbook.

How do I modify an add-in after it's been created?

Activate the VBE (Alt+F11) and set the IsAddIn property of the ThisWorkbook object to False. Make your changes and then set the IsAddIn property to True and resave the file.

What's the difference between an XLS file and an XLA file created from it? Is the XLA version compiled? Does it run faster?

There isn't a great deal of difference between the files, and you generally won't notice any speed differences. VBA code is always "compiled" before it is executed. This is true if it's in an XLS file or an XLA file. However, XLA files contain the actual VBA code, not compiled code. The main difference is that the casual user can't view XLA files.

How do I protect the code in my add-in from being viewed by others?

Activate the VBE and select Tools xxxx Properties (xxxx is the name of your project). Click the Protection tab, and select Lock project for viewing and enter a password.

Are my XLA add-ins safe? In other words, if I distribute an XLA file, can I be assured that no one else will be able to view my code?

You can protect your add-in by locking it with a password. This will prevent most users from being able to access your code. However, the password can be broken by using any of a number of utilities. Bottom line? Don't think of an XLA as being a secure file.

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