I’m constantly fascinated by forum questions that seek a ‘non-VBA’ solution to an Excel problem.

I’m equally fascinated by people describing techniques while boldly hailing them to be ‘non-VBA’ solutions.

Fascinated, even with some admiration. Just as I admire potholers and mountaineers. Deep sea divers and base-jumpers. It’s the adrenaline. The danger. The adventure. The trill of doing it the hard way. The gung ho.

Mountaineering example

Everest was finally conquered in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing. Since then mountaineers have sought more and more difficult routes to the summit. The north face etc. The routes where you’re more likely to be killed.

El Capitan is another tough one. You got to be tough to tackle it. And anyone who tackles it is unquestionably tough.

But consider this scenario.

Imagine there’s a mountain that’s quite a challenge for the toughest mountaineer.

What if the reason for climbing it is to rescue a sick person who is unwell at the summit?

Would you take the toughest route? Or would you take the cable car that will take you to the summit in 5 minutes, or a helicopter? Both equipped to bring the rescued person down on a stretcher if necessary.

You see, this is why I’m fascinated with the non-VBA answer seekers. Is the problem not that important? Is it a sport? Do you get more points for using the most difficult route to the solution? The riskiest? And if so, who’s risk?

Who is dependent on your work? Who is disadvantaged if it doesn’t work out? Would that person prefer you to take the riskiest route, or the safest?

To put the question into context, consider my old favorite – when people use external links to consolidate spreadsheets when there are other ways safer, more robust, self-checking. Why do people do that? Is it a display of bravado?

Or is it lack of awareness?

Would you scale El Capitan to reach a sick person at the summit, simply because you didn’t know there’s such a thing as a rescue helicopter?

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Hiran de Silva

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