Why I don’t like RUN buttons

When I first started this blog, I thought to myself: VBA is wonderful and amazing—there’s nothing you can’t do with it. I still love VBA, don’t get me wrong, but my relationship with the scripting language has changed considerably over the last several years. On a recent Excel.TV episode, Rick rightly pointed out the irony in my relationship with VBA solutions. “VBA appears in the title of you blog!” he said. 

My issue isn’t with VBA itself, but rather with how we use it. This won’t be a cliché article complaining about how old VBA is or why I think another language is so much better. Blech. But I do want to discuss how I think it should be located in development and provide you some food for thought in this vein.


The “RUN” button perhaps best encapsulates my relationship with VBA. You know what the RUN button is because you’ve created it before. It’s the button that updates a worksheet’s values, creates a new report, inputs data into a model—and so on. It’s the button you press to begin automation. In a sense, it’s everything I used to think VBA was about.

But having done this for many years, I now hate RUN buttons. To some extent, they can be unavoidable given the underlying nature of the problem. But they are often more avoidable than we think. As followers of my blog know, I am keen to place as much functionality on the spreadsheet as possible. If I can do it with Excel and formulas, then I avoid needless VBA. This makes for tighter faster work, that’s easily scalable. (In my book, I call the concept “reusable components.”)

And RUN buttons are often filled with needless VBA. We can use formulas to automatically update data values so that what we’re looking at is always live data. Form controls can help us with this. RUN buttons are often used to create copies of new report tabs, where the layout of a template tab is copied, filled with the latest information, and then displayed. But wouldn’t one display tab that could use formulas or Power Pivot suffice? The RUN button symbolizes processes that are far more complex than they need be.

Look, I’m just complaining about a symbol of a true underlying problem. We make things more complex than they need to be. Our work should never be more complex than the underlying model.

But agree or disagree, we should think more about how we develop. Like I said, RUN buttons are sometimes unavoidable. But if you can limit the amount of code in your work, replacing iterative volatile actions with faster formulas, that’s something to shoot for. At least I think so.

Excel for Business Workshop in West Chester, Ohio


Have you mastered VLOOKUP and INDEX? Have you not met a Pivot Table you couldn’t best? Then this is the class for you.

With this advanced course, I’ll teach you powerful techniques to take your skills to the next level. This is a full-day hands-on workshop, where we’ll use Excel’s features and functions in novel and innovative ways to create products that rival the large, business intelligence vendors. I’ll show you how to create data visualizations and interactivity not thought possible with Excel. And I’ll show you how to make them fast and efficient, so you can use model results without waiting.


  • Create fast and efficient spreadsheet models.
  • Use Excel’s boolean functions to select, filter, and aggregate data on the fly.
  • Avoid common spreadsheet development pitfalls
  • Apply techniques in your dashboard, decision model, and data visualization tools


All attendees will receive an absotlutely free copy of my book, Advanced Excel Essentials


  • Following along on your laptop is encouraged but necessary. If you want to follow along, you’ll need Excel 2007 or above installed on a Windows laptop.
  • This course qualifies for CPE credits. You will receive a certificate upon completion.
  • Group discounts are available, please call 937-329-9612 to inquire.


The cost of the class is $197 per person. This workshop has a limited number of seats which fill up quickly, so you should sign up as soon as possible. Until the end of January, use discount code EARLYBIRD to receive a 35% discount.


You may receive a 50% refund if you cancel a week before the event. Beyond that, refunds will be issued at our sole discretion. If inclimate weather causes the event to be canceled by the venue, we will let you know as soon as possible and change the event date.


Contact Jordan Goldmeier by calling 937-329-9612 or by email jordan@cambiafactor.com.

Until the end of January, use discount code EARLYBIRD to receive a 35% discount.

Happy Holidays 2014

Hello everyone. I’m a little late getting out my holiday card. Unfortunately, it’s not as polished as last year’s, which had falling snow. So, I’m sending you this card, which isn’t perfect. Just pretend it’s something your kid made with glued macaroni.

Move your mouse around like a flashlight to reveal a hidden message. See below:


If you look at the backend pieces, you’ll see some extra fat that could have been trimmed. But, for now, I’m happy with it!

Keep on calculat’n’, friends.

Download the Holiday Card!

(It’s hosted on Google Drive so you might have to hit a ‘Download’ button.)

Get Advanced Excel Essentials for $9.99!

I wish this deal were available a few days ago.

Apress’ parent company, Springer, currently has a coupon to receive $30 off any of their books, including Advanced Excel Essentials.

Here’s what you do:

1. Go here to my Advanced Excel Essentials book page. Then click “Get it now.”

2. Use the coupon code HLDY14A to take $30 off the regular price. That’s all. Shipping is free.

Obviously, you can use this code for any of the other books in their library. I’m not affiliated with the coupon, so I won’t get a kick back every time you use it (in fact, I’ll make pennies in royalties from the lowered price!) nor can I really troubleshoot if it doesn’t work. I will say that it’s worked for my friend’s who’ve tried it, so why not give it a try yourself?