Road map

The XL Toolbox was initially started as my personal collection of very simple helpers to make my work life with Excel easier. Over the last couple of months, the Toolbox has grown considerably. Since it was published on Sourceforge I get feedback every now and then from users who tell me they also use it day by day.

Version 2.50, which I published today, is pretty much feature complete in terms of what I always wanted to be able to do with Excel. However, there are still a few things that I would like to incorporate:

  • Chart export #1: The chart export function of version 2.50 cannot handle “modern” graphical elements, in particular no transparency. This is because the XL Toolbox uses ancient graphic functions that are built into Windows, GDI. A future release will use GDI+, GDI’s successor that comes with newer versions of Windows (but is more complicated to deal with from Excel VBA).
  • Chart export #2: Undoubtedly the ability to save professional-looking graphs directly from Excel will be a real boon to anyone who publishes in life sciences journals. The currently supported TIFF format should be appropriate for most journals. However, I would like to add PDF support both for bitmap graphics as well as vector graphics. A code framework to generate PDF files is already there; saving bitmaps in PDFs will be fairly easy to program. Converting an Excel chart as a vector graphic into a PDF file (i.e., converting an Enhanced Metafile to PDF) will require a lot more work however.
  • Statistics: A big item on my to-do list are improved statistics. The ANOVAs (1-way and 2-way) need to have better support for posthoc tests. Furthermore, I would like the 2-way ANOVA to be able to deal with missing samples by using linear regression.
  • User interface: I would like to have an icon for every XL Toolbox command; in addition, the Excel 2007 “ribbon” needs to be improved.
  • Programming environment: As the XL Toolbox gets bigger, both in terms of lines of code (currently 28,217) as well as user base (approaching 3000 downloads), I would like to port it from the native Excel VBA environment to Visual Studio. Besides making code maintenance and development easier in the long run (which I hope), this should result in improved performance of the addin.