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Chapter 26. Writing Visual Basic for App... > In the Real World—Macro Schizophreni...

In the Real World—Macro Schizophrenia

Macros have been a common add-on to productivity applications since the early days of WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and other popular DOS word processing and spreadsheet applications. Each application took a different approach to automating repetitive operations, which resulted in a Tower of Macro Language Babel. WordPerfect 4.x and 5.x for DOS, in particular, had an arcane set of macro commands and peculiar program structure that frustrated thousands of erstwhile programmers.

About 10 years ago, Bill Gates decided that all Microsoft applications using macros would share a common macro language built on BASIC. BASIC is the acronym for Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, an interpreted language developed at Dartmouth College. The intended application for BASIC was programming on terminal-based (usually Teletype) time-sharing computers. Gates' choice of BASIC for a macro language isn't surprising when you consider that Microsoft Corporation was built on the foundation of Gates' BASIC interpreter that ran in the 8KB of RAM common to the early predecessors of the PC, such as the Altair microcomputer. Gates reiterated his desire for a common macro language in an article that appeared in a late 1991 issue of the now-extinct One-to-One with Microsoft magazine.


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