How ProAPOD Fights To Keep Up With Microsoft

ProAPOD Real Estate Investment Software was originally developed in 2000 as an application for MS Excel 97 with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). This is the MS code for it’s Office software and is used by software developers to create macros (functions) to do a number of tasks. ProAPOD, for example, uses macros to display a customized toolbar (the topic of our first discussion).

Although VBA coding is certainly no easy task, the options back in 2000 were plentiful. For example, we could hide the Excel toolbar and replace it with our own customized toolbar during the entire time the user had ProAPOD opened. This was a great benefit because when a user opened our software the only toolbar that mattered–our toolbar–was the only one displayed. So it was easy (and not confusing) for the user to access it.

This was the case through WIN XP versions.

Then along came the infamous Vista (which Microsoft, thankfully, replaced almost immediately with Windows 7). Nonetheless, what Microsoft did at this point was to change what Excel applications were permitted to do with VBA. Starting with Vista we were no longer permitted to use a macro that would replace the Excel toolbar (now called the “ribbon”) with our own customized toolbar. Instead, it now requires the user to click an “Add-Ins” tab on the ribbon to display our ProAPOD toolbar within the ribbon. This not only has been a source of confusion for users, it has necessitated the extra burden of providing additional support files for the customer. Okay, fair enough.

But another result of the “ribbon” concerns one of our features. Prior to Vista we could call Print Preview in a manner that, to the user, would appear almost seamless. This was done with VBA by using the “ScreenUpdating” function.  With Vista and Windows 7, however, that function has to be removed from the macro to avoid other issues caused by the ribbon. Though the fix is an (albeit) acceptable solution, opening and closing Print Preview no longer appears as seamless as before (there is a slight flicker) .

When confronted by this issue, I was faced with two options: (1) remove the Print Preview feature altogether, or (2) make the modification to the code and accept the slightly-less-than-desirable (at least to me) result. At the end of the day we decided to make the modification and accept the result; considering that the Print Preview feature better serves the customer (warts and all) than not. Surprisingly, though, and just so you know, there were some who advised otherwise because they don’t consider previewing reports before printing a necessity.

The point of all of this is simply to say that Microsoft keeps moving the goal posts, and ProAPOD real estate investing software must continue to adjust. It’s not always easy, and we sometimes get unfairly blamed by customers for the added burden placed upon them by Microsoft. But we are committed to our software, and committed to our customers, and therefore we will continue the fight to keep up.