Recently there has been a tremendous outcry in the Office community swirling around the rumour that Microsoft is removing Visual Basic for Applications from future versions of Office. Business managers are wondering if they should bother with Excel VBA training programs if the macro language is on its way out.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the rumours of VBA's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Office 2008 Ships Without VBA

The controversy began when the latest version of the software suite for the Macintosh, Office 2008, was released without VBA support.

The reasons for the change were rooted in the Macintosh itself. It has always been difficult to keep VBA compatible with the Macintosh processors. It would have required a great deal of effort to maintain support for something that is used by no other application than Office.

Instead, the Macintosh version of Office supports AppleScript for macro creation. The object models of the two languages are equivalent so it is a simple matter of changing syntax. However "simple" doesn't mean "easy" and workbooks with large, complicated macros are going to be difficult to upgrade.

VBA Is Safe in Windows Office

Recently, The Register reported that Office 2009, the next Windows release of Office, would also not include VBA. This was an incorrect report and The Register has since retracted the statement, but not before creating an online firestorm.

The reasons for the removal of VBA from Mac Office are irrelevant to a Windows environment. Microsoft has stated definitively that VBA will be in Office 2009 and they have no plans to remove it from future versions.

Should VBA Be Deprecated?

There is good reason for Microsoft to consider abandoning VBA in favour of a more secure macro environment. VBA is one of the biggest security holes in the Office suite and Microsoft is working to protect Office from all vulnerabilities. However the balance between future needs and backward compatibility has always been a tough decision for software developers.

Although VBA may eventually be deprecated from the Windows Office environment, that doesn't mean the macros well become obsolete. For example, Microsoft removed XLM macros in favour of VBA in 1995 and yet they still function even in Excel 2007.

If Microsoft introduces a new, more secure macro language in Office 2009, VBA will still be an available tool and that means there will always be a place for Excel VBA training in your organization.

Even if your business uses only Macs, VBA is still part of the picture. Most organizations don't immediately upgrade so older versions of Office are in use well after they cease to be the leading edge. When you do upgrade to Office Mac 2008, you are going to need Excel VBA training to understand those obsolete macros so that you can rewrite them in AppleScript.