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FAQ1 - What is “ Spreadsheet Automation”?

Actually, there is no universally accepted definition for this frequently used term. true north usa uses a broader definition of spreadsheet automation. We suggest the following:

The world of spreadsheet automation begins when any, or all, of the following apply:
  • the user invokes the Excel macro recorder
  • the user opens the VBA editor and begins to insert code
  • the user includes an Excel Addin to his application
  • the spreadsheet application is embedded in and/or controlled by another application
All of these instances normally share in common the introduction of custom programming code. In many cases automation makes “automatic” those things that a user could make happen by hand. They are automatic because Excel is being controlled by custom programming code. The macro recorder allows you to do this with no knowledge of programming. Aside from making automatic those things that you could accomplish as a user, there are a huge number of things available via automation that you could never accomplish using the standard Excel interface.

Excel add ins are added to the definition because they all involve custom programming code. Add ins are also something you can create using the VBA interface.

OLE Automation and ActiveX Automation are "types" of spreadsheet automation.

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