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excel – Set data structure in VBA

Posted by: admin March 9, 2020 Leave a comment


I’m looking for a set data structure to use in Excel VBA. What I found so far is Scripting.Dictionary which seems to be a map.

Is there also something like a set in VBA?

Basically I’m looking for a data structure that is efficient for finding out if a particular value has already been added.

How to&Answers:

Take a look at .NET ArrayList, it has such methods as Add, Contains, Sort etc. You can instantiate the object within VBS and VBA environment:

Set ArrayList = CreateObject("System.Collections.ArrayList")

Scripting.Dictionary also may fit the needs, it has unique keys, Exists method allows to check if a key is already in the dictionary.

However, SQL request via ADODB probably will be more efficient for that case. The below examples shows how to retrieve unique rows via SQL query to the worksheet:

Option Explicit

Sub GetDistinctRecords()

    Dim strConnection As String
    Dim strQuery As String
    Dim objConnection As Object
    Dim objRecordSet As Object

    Select Case LCase(Mid(ThisWorkbook.Name, InStrRev(ThisWorkbook.Name, ".")))
        Case ".xls"
            strConnection = "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;User ID=Admin;Data Source='" & ThisWorkbook.FullName & "';Mode=Read;Extended Properties=""Excel 8.0;HDR=YES;"";"
        Case ".xlsm", ".xlsb"
            strConnection = "Provider=Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0;User ID=Admin;Data Source='" & ThisWorkbook.FullName & "';Mode=Read;Extended Properties=""Excel 12.0 Macro;HDR=YES;"";"
    End Select

    strQuery = "SELECT DISTINCT * FROM [Sheet1$]"
    Set objConnection = CreateObject("ADODB.Connection")
    objConnection.Open strConnection
    Set objRecordSet = objConnection.Execute(strQuery)
    RecordSetToWorksheet Sheets(2), objRecordSet

End Sub

Sub RecordSetToWorksheet(objSheet As Worksheet, objRecordSet As Object)

    Dim i As Long

    With objSheet
        For i = 1 To objRecordSet.Fields.Count
            .Cells(1, i).Value = objRecordSet.Fields(i - 1).Name
        .Cells(2, 1).CopyFromRecordset objRecordSet
    End With

End Sub

Source data should be placed on the Sheet1, the result is output to the Sheet2. The only limitation for that method is that ADODB connects to the Excel workbook on the drive, so any changes should be saved before query to get actual results.

If you want to get only the set of non-distinct rows, then the query should be as follows (just an example, you have to put your set of fields into query):

    strQuery = "SELECT CustomerID, CustomerName, ContactName, Address, City, PostalCode, Country FROM [Sheet1$] GROUP BY CustomerID, CustomerName, ContactName, Address, City, PostalCode, Country HAVING Count(*) > 1"


Simply write a wrapper for Scripting.Dictionary that exposes only set-like operations.


Option Explicit

Private d As Scripting.Dictionary

Private Sub Class_Initialize()
    Set d = New Scripting.Dictionary
End Sub

Public Sub Add(var As Variant)
    d.Add var, 0
End Sub

Public Function Exists(var As Variant) As Boolean
    Exists = d.Exists(var)
End Function

Public Sub Remove(var As Variant)
    d.Remove var
End Sub

And then you can use it like so:


Public Sub Main()
    Dim s As clsSet
    Set s = New clsSet

    Dim obj As Object

    s.Add "A"
    s.Add 3
    s.Add #1/19/2017#

    Debug.Print s.Exists("A")
    Debug.Print s.Exists("B")
    s.Remove #1/19/2017#
    Debug.Print s.Exists(#1/19/2017#)
End Sub

Which prints True, False and False as expected.


You could use a collection and do the following function, collections enforce unique key identifiers:

Public Function InCollection(Col As Collection, key As String) As Boolean
  Dim var As Variant
  Dim errNumber As Long

  InCollection = False
  Set var = Nothing

  On Error Resume Next
    var = Col.Item(key)
    errNumber = CLng(Err.Number)
  On Error GoTo 0

  '5 is not in, 0 and 438 represent incollection
  If errNumber = 5 Then ' it is 5 if not in collection
    InCollection = False
    InCollection = True
  End If

End Function