Programmer writes Excel 2007 print PDFs add-in for VT Accounts

In an act of public charity for VT Accounts users, Notts-based programmer Roy Sharp has come up with a simple Excel add-in that lets them generate PDF versions of final accounts to file with HMRC.

While he was working with an accountant cient, Sharp discovered that he had a problem producing PDFs of the VT Accounts Excel spreadsheet.

After approaching VT and getting no encouraging feedback, Roy decided to write his own add-in to solve the problem.

The add-in needs to run within Excel 2007 and like similar routines, it adds a button on the application menu to output a PDF.

Continued...

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Comments

Simply an alternative, that's all...

roysharp | | Permalink

Oh dear, this is a freebie, not a knock at VTAccounts.

IF you have Office 2007
and
IF you have the pdf-addin installed
THEN this is a simple 'bridge' from the VTAccounts Excel add-ons to PDF output.

Users can continue to use pseudo-printers, use this, or use both if they wish, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

I have used various PDF creators over the years and they work fine (if you keep them up to date with Windows and Adobe changes), but I was faced with a non-technical user and further installs/ explanation so I chose this route as the easiest and most robust solution.

It was more fitting becase the client also publishes Office files as PDFs to overcome the compatibility issues with older versions of MS Office so they had the MS add-in installed already. (I don't really understand why it is deemed an add-in and not core functionality, but that is another discussion).

I am more than happy for VTAccounts to include it if they wish, and for users to ignore it. But please don't get into a tiz about a noddy little button.

It's all explained in the help files...

Anonymous | | Permalink

Well done to Roy for creating the add-on and sharing it, but it was not borne out of an unfulfilled need.

Printing to pdf's is explained clearly in the help file (and on VT's website), just search "pdf" and an informative topic is to be found. The help topic suggests installing a virtual printer such as Cute PDF or Fine Print pdfFactory to print the accounts to pdf. Personally I am inclined to use the suggestion made by VT, using the virtual driver over Roy's add-in has the benefit that you can print anything to pdf, not just accounts.

Erm ?

mikewhit | | Permalink

CutePDF !

Works with all apps ...

Roy's add-in requires some improvements to make it usable

vtsoftware | | Permalink

I have now had a chance to find the emails that Roy and I exchanged about this matter, and try out Roy’s add-in myself.

Roy told me that he did not want his client to install a virtual pdf printer because of the complication involved. Roy’s idea, properly implemented, is a good one. One does not need a virtual pdf printer, and you do not have to fiddle around changing the current printer to make a pdf. The downside is that you have to install an add-in from Microsoft and it only applies to Excel 2007. In my view, overall, there is not much in it between the two methods.

However, Roy’s add-in (as it stood at 9am on 16/3/09) has such serious flaws that I would not recommend anyone to use it. It only works with the non-abbreviated accounts for a small company that has an accountants report. For a large company or a small company with no report, an audit report or a chartered accountants report, it crashes. For a small company, any additional sheets (such as a Contents page or an Information page) are omitted without warning.

Roy, if you want to update your add-in to make it universal, VT stores the names of the sheets to be printed in a cell on a ‘very hidden’ sheet (ie you cannot unhide it). You can access this cell with the syntax:
Range("vt_printgroup")
Or for the abbreviated accounts:
Range("vt_printgroupabb")

The format of the data in the above cells (for bizarre historical reasons) is:
:Sheet1::Sheet2::Sheet3:

John. In the light of this and my earlier posting, could you re-promote this article so that all is clear to everyone?

There is no need for this add-in

Anonymous | | Permalink

John. Thanks for your response. I am also very grateful for the positive comments that VT frequently receives on AccountingWeb, but on this very rare occasion I thought your article was misleading. However, one of the many good points of AccountingWeb is that one does get the chance to respond, which stops any further damage being done. I also do not doubt that you wrote the article in good faith.

The 400 people who read the article before I was able to place my posting, unless they knew otherwise, would surely have drawn the following conclusions from it, all of which are false:

• You cannot produce pdfs’s from VT Final Accounts in Excel 2003 or earlier
• In Excel 2007 it can only be done by downloading an add-in from an unknown programmer
• VT was not interested in a solution to the above

I know you did not actually say these things, but why otherwise would you be promoting this add-in in the terms used:

“Help is at hand for VT users who want to file pdfs”
“In an act of public charity for VT Accounts users”
“After approaching VT and getting no encouraging feedback, Roy decided to write his own add-in to solve the problem”
“…and best of all, it is now available for free”

There is no problem. VT users need no help or charity. They need no free add-in. This feature is already available for all versions of Excel by using a pdf writer (a virtual printer). Many users will already have one installed, and there are several free ones available for downloading over the internet.

There seems little point changing the article now. The damage has been done. It would be better if the article was re-advertised as it is on a news wire so that the original 400 would get a chance to see my comments.

Any pdf writer will do for producing a pdf of the accounts in Excel, but VT provides hyperlinks to Cute (which is free) and FinePrint (for which there is a small fee).

John Stokdyk's picture

Happy to adjust the article - to a point

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

Thanks all for your comments, including those from Philip Hodgson.

While I am happy to adjust the headline to reflect your reply, the article reports accurately that Roy's client "had a problem" producing PDFs of the VT accounts worksheet.

It also states clearly that the add-in lets users generate PDF versions of the final accounts and needs to run within Excel 2007. Both accurate statements.

You also confirm that you were not interested in Roy's suggestion when he brought it to you - as the article states.

I remain slightly confused about why the client does not appear to have been advised about the Print PDF/external PDF writer option at the time they raised the query. Is there a particular program recommended by VT - and at what cost?

I'll also make a point of checking with Roy Sharp about how the add-in generates its PDF file and whether an external writer is required.

John Stokdyk
Technology editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk

Could you use a pdf printer?

David160 | | Permalink

Could you use a pdf printer?

remhonps's picture

VT & PDF

remhonps | | Permalink

As a long standing VT user we've never had any problems creating PDF's from any version of VT with a pdf writer. Amongst the joys of VT+ is the inbuilt ability to create internal PDF copies of any report and email - almost at the blink of an eye.

You can already generate pdf's from VT Final Accounts

vtsoftware | | Permalink

You can already generate pdfs for VT Final Accounts by downloading a pdf writer. The Print Accounts dialog in VT Final Accounts tells you how to do this. This works for all versions of Excel, not just Excel 2007.

With Roy Sharp's product, you also have to downoad an add-in from Microsoft. For these reasons we did not commit to including Roy's ideas in VT Final Accounts. Roy was not aware that most users would need the download from Microsoft when he first approached me with this idea on 23/2/09.

Message to ExcelZone editors. Your article suggests that you cannot create pdfs from VT Final Accounts and as such is defamatory! 400 people read the article before I managed to write this correction. Can you please change it so as not to mislead users or potential users who do not read the subsequent comments? Also, you do not mention the limitation to Excel 2007.

Pdf printer

jake1509 | | Permalink

Yes I am using a pdf printer - I'm working in excel 2003 so the above solution won't help me, but for those out there also still in earlier versions of Excel - get a pdf printer. There are a few of these about, some of which are free.