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Conceptual Differences Between WordBasic and Visual Basic

The primary difference between Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and Microsoft WordBasic is that, whereas the WordBasic language consists of a flat list of approximately 900 commands, Visual Basic consists of a hierarchy of objects, each of which exposes a specific set of methods and properties (similar to statements and functions in WordBasic). While most WordBasic commands can be run at any time, Visual Basic only exposes the methods and properties of the available objects at a given time.

Objects are the fundamental building blocks of Visual Basic; almost everything you do in Visual Basic involves modifying objects. Every element of Microsoft Office Word—such as documents, paragraphs, fields, and bookmarks—can be represented by an object in Visual Basic. Unlike commands in a flat list, there are objects that can only be accessed from other objects. For example, the Font object can be accessed from various objects, including the Style, Selection, and Find objects.

The programming task of applying bold formatting demonstrates the differences between the two programming languages. The following WordBasic instruction applies bold formatting to the selection.

Bold 1

The following example is the Visual Basic equivalent for applying bold formatting to the selection.

Selection.Font.Bold = True

Visual Basic does not include a Bold statement and function. Instead, there is a Bold property. (A property is usually an attribute of an object, such as its size, its color, or whether or not it is bold.) Bold is a property of the Font object. Likewise, Font is a property of the Selection object that returns a Font object. Following the object hierarchy, you can build the instruction to apply bold formatting to the selection.

The Bold property is a read/write Boolean property. This means that the Bold property can be set to True or False (on or off), or the current value can be returned. The following WordBasic instruction returns a value indicating whether bold formatting is applied to the selection.

x = Bold()

The following example is the Visual Basic equivalent for returning the bold formatting status from the selection.

x = Selection.Font.Bold

To perform a task in Visual Basic, you need to determine the appropriate object. For example, if you want to apply character formatting found in the Font dialog box, use the Font object. Then you need to determine how to "drill down" through the Word object hierarchy from the Application object to the Font object, through the objects that contain the Font object you want to modify. After you have determined the path to your object (for example, ), use the Object Browser, Help, or the features such as Auto List Members in the Visual Basic Editor to determine what properties and methods can be applied to the object. For more information about drilling down to objects using properties and methods, see Understanding Objects, Properties, and Methods.

Properties and methods are often available to multiple objects in the Word object hierarchy. For example, the following instruction applies bold formatting to the entire document.

ActiveDocument.Content.Bold = True

Also, objects themselves often exists in more than one place in the object hierarchy.

If you know the WordBasic command for the task you want to accomplish in Word, see Visual Basic Equivalents for WordBasic Commands.

Most WordBasic commands modify the selection. For example, the Bold command formats the selection with bold formatting. The InsertField command inserts a field at the insertion point. When you want to work with the selection in Visual Basic, you use the Selection property to return the Selection object. The selection can be a block of text or just the insertion point.

The following Visual Basic example inserts text and a new paragraph after the selection.

Selection.InsertAfter Text:="Hello World" 

In addition to working with the selection, you can define and work with various ranges of text in a document. A Range object refers to a contiguous area in a document with a starting character position and an ending character position. Similar to the way bookmarks are used in a document, Range objects are used in Visual Basic to identify portions of a document. However, unlike a bookmark, a Range object is invisible to the user unless the Range has been selected using the Select method. For example, you can use Visual Basic to apply bold formatting anywhere in the document without changing the selection. The following example applies bold formatting to the first 10 characters in the active document.

ActiveDocument.Range(Start:=0, End:=10).Bold = True

The following example applies bold formatting to the first paragraph.

ActiveDocument.Paragraphs(1).Range.Bold = True

Both of these example change the formatting in the active document without changing the selection. For more information about the Range object, see Working with Range objects.