Should You Learn VBA in 2023? An Honest Look at the Pros and Cons (Excel)

Written by Kasper Langmann

In the world of programming and data analysis, there’s a multitude of languages to choose from. One such language that often sparks debate is Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), especially in relation to Microsoft Excel. As we step into 2023, the question arises – is it worth learning VBA? This comprehensive guide will delve into the pros and cons of learning VBA in 2023, providing an honest perspective to help you make an informed decision.

The Basics of VBA

Before we delve into the pros and cons, it’s important to understand what VBA is. VBA, or Visual Basic for Applications, is a programming language developed by Microsoft. It’s primarily used for automating tasks in Microsoft Office applications, with Excel being one of the most common.

VBA allows you to create macros, which are essentially mini-programs that perform a series of tasks. These macros can automate repetitive tasks, perform complex calculations, and even interact with other applications or the internet.

Now that we have a basic understanding of VBA, let’s explore the reasons why you might want to learn it in 2023.

Pros of Learning VBA in 2023

Automation of Tasks

One of the biggest advantages of learning VBA is the ability to automate tasks. If you find yourself performing the same tasks over and over again in Excel, VBA can save you a significant amount of time and effort. By writing a macro, you can automate these repetitive tasks, allowing you to focus on more important aspects of your work.

Automation is not just about saving time. It also reduces the risk of errors. When tasks are performed manually, there’s always a chance of making a mistake. But with automation, once the macro is correctly written, it will perform the task flawlessly every time.

Increased Efficiency

Another major benefit of learning VBA is increased efficiency. With VBA, you can perform complex calculations and data analysis that would be difficult, if not impossible, to do manually in Excel. This can greatly improve your productivity and efficiency, especially if you’re working with large amounts of data.

Moreover, VBA allows you to create custom functions and formulas. This means you can tailor Excel to your specific needs, making it a more powerful and versatile tool.

Increased Marketability

In today’s job market, having a diverse skill set can give you an edge over other candidates. Learning VBA can increase your marketability, as many employers value the ability to automate tasks and work efficiently with data. Whether you’re looking for a job or seeking a promotion, having VBA in your toolkit can be a significant advantage.

Now that we’ve explored the benefits, let’s take a look at the potential downsides of learning VBA in 2023.

Cons of Learning VBA in 2023

Learning Curve

One of the main drawbacks of learning VBA is the steep learning curve. While it’s not as complex as some other programming languages, it can still be challenging for beginners. It requires a good understanding of programming concepts and a lot of practice to become proficient.

Moreover, VBA is an older language, and its syntax and structure can seem outdated compared to more modern languages. This can make it more difficult to learn, especially if you’re already familiar with newer languages.

Limited Scope

Another potential downside of learning VBA is its limited scope. VBA is primarily used for automating tasks in Microsoft Office applications. While this can be incredibly useful in certain situations, it’s not as versatile as other languages. If you’re looking to get into more general programming or web development, other languages like Python or JavaScript might be more beneficial.

Furthermore, Microsoft has been gradually moving away from VBA in favor of newer technologies like Power Query and Power BI. While VBA is still supported, its future is uncertain.

Security Risks

Finally, it’s important to note that VBA can pose security risks. Macros can be used to spread malware, and many organizations disable them by default as a result. This can limit the usefulness of VBA, especially in a corporate environment.

In conclusion, whether or not you should learn VBA in 2023 depends on your specific needs and goals. If you frequently use Excel and would benefit from automation and increased efficiency, VBA can be a valuable skill. However, if you’re looking to get into more general programming or are concerned about security, other languages might be a better fit. As always, it’s important to do your research and consider your options carefully before making a decision.