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DOS From Macros

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: DOS from Macros.

Macros are a wonderful way to expand the functionality of a program such as Excel. You may, however, want to expand that functionality even more by executing a DOS batch file from your macro. Excel allows you to do this by using the Shell command. The general syntax for the command is as follows:

dRetVal = Shell("myfile.bat", mode)

Within the quote marks you can place the full path name and file name of the file you want to execute. On some systems you may experience problems if you use a path name with the file specification. (This seems to crop its ugly head if you have complex path names or if the path name includes spaces.) If you have this problem, then simply use the ChDir command just prior to Shell in order to change the directory used by Excel. You can then execute Shell using just a file name.

The mode indicator simply tells Excel how you want the window opened for the file to appear. The mode indicator can be any of the following:

Value Variable Nam Meaning
0 vbHide Window is hidden and has focus.
1 vbNormalFocus Window is the normal size and has focus.
2 vbMinimizedFocus Window is minimized and has focus.
3 vbMaximizedFocus Window is maximized and has focus.
4 vbNormalNoFocus Window is normal size, but doesn't have focus.
6 vbMinimizedNoFocus Window is minimized, but doesn't have focus.

The Shell command returns a value that indicates the program ID of the file you executed, or else a zero. If a zero is returned, then there was an error executing the file.

You should remember that when you use Shell, the target file is executed right away, and it is executed independently of Excel. This means that the next macro command, in your Excel macro, is immediately executed without waiting for the Shell target file to finish. Unfortunately, there is no way around this behavior.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2506) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: DOS from Macros.

Related Tips:

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

 

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Comments for this tip:

Scott Renz    21 Sep 2015, 13:41
Actually, I see that my batch file makes a 0 length output file right away, and then puts data in it when it ends. So, this one check for its length.

'myprogram.bat
'simply has a one line command:
'dir
'This was just made for this demonstration.
'Instead, call whatever program you want.

Sub RunDOSprogram()
Dim objfso As Object, a As Object
ChDir Environ("UserProfile")
If Dir("output.txt") <> "" Then Kill ("output.txt")
TryAgain:
Tries = Tries + 1
If Tries > 99 Then 'retries for about 5 minutes
  MsgBox ("At least 99 tries have been made to see if this program has run properly and it has not been found to have done so.")
  Exit Sub
End If
RetVal = Shell("myprogram.bat > output.txt""", 3) 'Run DOS program. Create file "output.txt" when it completes.
newHour = Hour(Now())
newMinute = Minute(Now())
newSecond = Second(Now()) + 3
waitTime = TimeSerial(newHour, newMinute, newSecond)
Application.Wait waitTime 'Wait three seconds before checking.
    If Dir("output.txt") = "" Then GoTo TryAgain
    Set objfso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
    Set a = objfso.getfile("output.txt")
    If a.Size <= 0 Then
      Set objfso = Nothing
      Set a = Nothing
      GoTo TryAgain
    Else
      Set objfso = Nothing
      Set a = Nothing
      MsgBox ("Program has finished executing")
    End If
End Sub
Scott Renz    21 Sep 2015, 12:48
To wait until the Shell program finishes:

'myprogram.bat
'simply has a one line command:
'dir
'This was just made for this demonstration.
'Instead, call whatever program you want.

Sub RunDOSprogram()

ChDir Environ("UserProfile")
If Dir("output.txt") <> "" Then Kill ("output.txt")
TryAgain:
Tries = Tries + 1
If Tries > 99 Then 'retries for about 5 minutes
  MsgBox ("At least 99 tries have been made to see if this program has run properly and it has not been found to have done so.")
  Exit Sub
End If
RetVal = Shell("myprogram.bat > output.txt""", 3) 'Run DOS program. Create file "output.txt" when it completes.
newHour = Hour(Now())
newMinute = Minute(Now())
newSecond = Second(Now()) + 3
waitTime = TimeSerial(newHour, newMinute, newSecond)
Application.Wait waitTime 'Wait three seconds before checking.
If Dir("output.txt") = "" Then GoTo TryAgain
MsgBox ("Program has finished executing")

End Sub
 
 

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