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Web-based Excel Office Scripts offer similar functionality to old desktop Macro Recorder

Move over VBA, Microsoft Office Scripts are here


At the end of May, Microsoft rolled out a new automation tool that will let web-based users of Office 365 record and run regular command sequences – just like they used to with the old Excel Macro Recorder.

18th Jun 2021
Editor at large AccountingWEB
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Microsoft Office Scripts are one of several recent enhancements designed to give the web-based Office 365 suite parity with its desktop twin. In previous months, Microsoft added new Power Query and Power BI capabilities to the web version.

How Office Scripts work

Excel’s web-based community will need the software owner or administrator to activate the Office Script function, which can then be operated by clicking on the Automate tab in the online Excel ribbon interface. There the user will find two new icons: Record Actions and New Script.

These are the online cousins of the Macro Recorder and VBA Editor. The functionality is very similar, but the code is created and edited in a Javascript-like language rather than Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). The main difference here is that the new language can function across different web browsers rather than needing the compilers available in desktop operating systems like Windows.

So you can click Record Actions and carry out the desired sequence before clicking the Stop button in the Record Actions dialogue box that appears on the right hand side of the worksheet. The recorder will then generate a script that when activated from the Script menu will repeat the actions to your heart’s content. Or you can write your own Script, upload and edit it until it does what you want.

As you record, name and save new scripts, they will be stored in a small menu box on the Automate ribbon, alongside a few readymades that Microsoft provides as starter kit.

Ever-increasing functionality

Experienced VBA programmers and Excel power users should take to the new system easily, and will be attracted by some of the other features available in the web edition, including Power Automate, which has tools that can let you trigger Office Scripts from different sources – even without opening the workbook. If you dig into all the supporting documentation, all sorts of automated accounting and reporting processes should be possible in the Excel web environment.

As is now common practice in the world of subscription software, new features are being added across the entire Office 365 suite on a regular basis. Some of the new functionality could be a boon for users, but the incremental additions can be hard for them to spot, particularly when some of them appear on the desktop but not the web, or vice versa.

This push-and-pull is continuing long-running arguments over the relative merits of the two platforms, but ultimately even with the odd discrepancies, the interoperability between desktop and web shows that Microsoft is still determined to maintain its edge over what it must see as the upstart Google Apps suite.

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By SteveHa
18th Jun 2021 12:29

Awesome. Ermm, I mean, what's Office? Oh, that package that MS are trying to make as ubiquitous as possible in the pursuit of profit?

Sorry, LibreOffice all the way here. More compatible with Excel than Excel is, faster in operation, cross platform, and doesn't cost a penny.

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