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Friendly and Informative Error Handling

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: Friendly and Informative Error Handling.

Other people use my workbooks and I have a simple technique that I use when writing error handlers that makes it easier to cope with problems if macros fail. Every procedure that is at all risky contains a local string variable, sOp, whose value is set during the macro code as follows:

Dim sOp As String
...

...
sOp = "opening target file"
...

...
sOp = "counting lines already filled"
...

...
sOp = "copying source data table"
...

...
sOp = "saving and closing"
...

These statements are nothing more than one might put in as remarks, but they have the advantage that when an error occurs, the user can be informed what was going on at the time. At its simplest the error handler just needs to contain a single statement like this:

MsgBox "Procedure MyMacro failed while " + vbCrLf + sOp

The value of sOp can also be used to determine the next action (resume, exit, etc). Using this technique in your own macros can make them easier to debug and more friendly for users.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2597) 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: Friendly and Informative Error Handling.

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