Call for help with Documentation, Testing and Samples

Coordinator
Oct 8, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Hi Excel-Dna users,

I'd like to extend a call for volunteers to help Excel-Dna with some of the grunt-work that often gets neglected with open-source projects. In particular, Excel-Dna could really use your help with:

  1. Documentation. Particularly reference documentation for the library. This would include the schema for the .dna files, supported datatypes for registration, the ExcelFunction and ExcelCommand attributes, using the Ribbon, Command and RTD support. Instructions on getting everything set up in Visual Studio etc. So this is going beyond the Getting Started walkthrough, of which there are (thankfully) a few on the web already.
  2. Testing. The Excel-Dna Runtime needs a testing framework, and lots of unit tests. I imagine something that would drive Excel, load an add-in and test whether a particular feature works.
  3. Samples. We need both a library of small examples that use particular features, and a few comprehensive add-ins that show how a really polished add-in can be made with Excel-Dna, combining Ribbons and UDFs.
  4. Testimonials and user stories. Are you using Excel-Dna successfully? I understand that many users would like to keep their magic under wraps, and that's fine. But I'd love to know a bit more about who uses Excel-Dna, how many users of your add-ins you have, and how it is used it or has helped your organisation. I'd want to put together these references and stories on the project site. Please indicate whether it is OK for me to post your story, if I can add a company logo, or whether I should keep it private (I'd still love to know).

I think all of this should go into the Excel-Dna project site here on CodePlex. If you think you can help, please contact me so that I can add you as Editor or Developer on the project. And of course you can send any contributions directly by e-mail to me at govert@icon.co.za.

Thank you for your continued support of Excel-Dna.

Cheers,

Govert

Editor
Oct 16, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Hi Govert,

ExcelDna is a very useful library.

I would like to contribute to ExcelDna. Areas I could provide support:

  • Documentation: Step by step tutorials with screenshots
  • Samples: Small an simple samples by just using one single feature per sample
  • Testing: It's a very interesting task but I am not sure whether I have enought programming knowledge to contribute here yet

Further, I suggest to develop a small ExcelDna IDE by extending this IDE: QuickSharp 

QuickSharp allows to extend it with plugins which can be developed within QuickSharp. I personally like small IDEs because you don't have to start Visual Studio each time just for a little hack. 

The project I am working on is to extend QuickSharp with a plugin that allows scripting Excel with C# oder VB without using VBA. 

Just let me know what you think of my suggestions and ideas. 

Cheers,

Dominik

 

 

 

Coordinator
Oct 25, 2010 at 6:46 PM

Hi Dominik,

Thank you very much for the offer to help. I apologise for the slow reply.

I have added you as an Editor on the Excel-Dna CodePlex project. This means you can start to add and edit Documentation and Wiki pages when you're ready. (Anyone else ready to jump in? Please let me know.)

I am hoping over the next week or so to at least put an outline in place under the Documentation tab. Or maybe you'd like to give it a go - I'm really not sure how to structure things. The main type of information I get asked for is reference documents for the .dna files and the Integration library. And I think the C API vs. Automation interface is also very confusing. And of course building up the kind of documents and samples you describe would be very helpful.

Your suggestion to look at QuickSharp is great - I did not even know about the project before. My own current thoughts about an Excel-Dna Editor are centered around SharpDevelop, and I am keen to spent a bit more effort exploring down that road (when I can find the time). Any integration with QuickSharp that you can help with, or instructions for how to get starting using it with Excel-Dna, would be awesome!

Kind regards,

Govert

Oct 26, 2010 at 6:44 AM

Hi grovert,

Some ideas for an editor:

1) Visual Studio Shell

Essentially a SDK for developing IDEs. VS Shell (Isolated Mode) allows you to make complete, standalone IDEs that do not need Visual Studio to be installed (or even licensed) on target machines. For example "MS SQL Server Management Studio" seems to have been developed using VS Shell.  See stackoverflow.com/questions/939841/what-is-the-visual-studio-shell-standalone-shell-good-for

2) LINQPad

I use LINQPad all the time these days. It's just so much faster than launching a full VS instance. Perhaps you could work out some kind of licensing deal with Joe (the author of LINQPad?) I think I would pay for an IDE with code completion support.

Regards,
Vishal

Editor
Oct 26, 2010 at 1:26 PM
Edited Oct 26, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Hi Govert,

Many thanks for your kind reply!

We maybe need two different documentation paths: One for the reference and more technical oriented and one more user oriented including tutorials and step-by-step instructions. I will publish someting soon as I have one or tutorials available.
The other part I am working on is think about how we could extend the QuickSharp editor for Excel-Dna. I am not sure yet whether we should implement wizard for creating an Excel-Dna project. It could be asked different questions like:

  • Choose the path of the new project
  • Add the name of the new xll and the *.dna file
  • Language of the function (C#, VB.NET or VBA) 
  • Using a compiled *.dll library: If yes: Add the path and the dll
  • Target .NET version 

All the data added during the wizard process is then added to the *.dna file. So the user then can focus on entering and developing the required function(s). Then the user hits the button "Create xll" and he or she is done.

Regarding the proposal from Grynn: Both suggestions are great ideas! Especially LINQPad is pretty easy to use and does not consume a lot of resources. 

What do you think?
Regards, Dominik



govert wrote:

Hi Dominik,

Thank you very much for the offer to help. I apologise for the slow reply.

I have added you as an Editor on the Excel-Dna CodePlex project. This means you can start to add and edit Documentation and Wiki pages when you're ready. (Anyone else ready to jump in? Please let me know.)

I am hoping over the next week or so to at least put an outline in place under the Documentation tab. Or maybe you'd like to give it a go - I'm really not sure how to structure things. The main type of information I get asked for is reference documents for the .dna files and the Integration library. And I think the C API vs. Automation interface is also very confusing. And of course building up the kind of documents and samples you describe would be very helpful.

Your suggestion to look at QuickSharp is great - I did not even know about the project before. My own current thoughts about an Excel-Dna Editor are centered around SharpDevelop, and I am keen to spent a bit more effort exploring down that road (when I can find the time). Any integration with QuickSharp that you can help with, or instructions for how to get starting using it with Excel-Dna, would be awesome!

Kind regards,

Govert