Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Develop Macros in Their Own Workbook.

Develop Macros in Their Own Workbook

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 6, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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Excel includes VBA as a powerful programming language that you can use to develop all sorts of macros. It is not unusual, as you are developing macros, to go through many iterations and make wholesale changes to your macros. You may want to keep in mind, however, that doing so can cause problems in your workbooks.

As you make changes to macros, adding and removing code, the actual file used to store the macros (the workbook) can get quite fragmented. It seems that internally the macros are stored in blocks and, much like a disk drive, the blocks can become "non-contiguous" over time. (This happens only through editing, not through use of the macros themselves.) Some readers have reported that there are times the fragmentation can get so bad that the macros may fail or the workbook become unusable.

The solution to this potential problem is to do your macro development in a different workbook than the one that will eventually hold the macros. Thus, when the macro is transferred to its final home, it will be transferred as a contiguous block, rather than being fragmented.

If you want to make sure that the macro fragmentation is completely removed from a current workbook, all you need to do is export your VBA modules to text files, create a brand new workbook, and import the modules into it.

Note:

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ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10351) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Develop Macros in Their Own Workbook.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 9 + 7?

2021-02-11 08:08:31

mechie

In response to J Woolley - I have a few spreadsheets that are now over a decade old. The macros within them have continued to grow and have been edited periodically. Some of these sheets started with Excel ver 2003 as I recall (xlt). They have been .xltm workbooks every since we moved onto Excel 2007/2010. (Currently on ver 365.) I don't know if any of my updating over the years might have 'reset' the macros / vba, but I'm doubtful. I haven't noticed any issues as discussed in this tip. (As an aside, some of my macros got slower and slower over the years as we moved from one Windows version to the next, or one Excel version to the next. I had to retool some macros to make them more efficient. Eg - Using filter techniques instead of looping. But that is a whole other topic!)


2021-02-10 19:42:22

Peter

Thanks for the warning. I am an inveterate tinkerer.
I have the same question as mechie.


2021-02-09 13:19:48

J. Woolley

I believe the code fragmentation described in this Tip might have been a problem in older versions of Excel, but has anyone actually noticed this problem since Excel began using the Open XML (*.xlsm) workbook format?


2021-02-08 09:27:53

mechie

Can one export the module and then import it back into the workbook to clear VBA fragmentation?

My template workbooks have a LOT of other stuff going on (dozens of worksheets, hundreds of range names, lots of data, etc.) It is not just an empty workbook with macros. Perhaps if I were to export the VBA modules, strip all VBA (eg, save as an xlsx file), then turn it into an xltm file (new, fresh workbook) and import the VBA modules back in? Would that work?


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