OfficePalooza FAQ

OfficePalooza FAQ

Why OfficePalooza?

Hey, why not OfficePalooza!?! Most of us spend our days using Microsoft Office for such practical tasks as managing finances, writing up contracts, scheduling projects, and so on. For many of us, that also means using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to create some very serious and complicated applications.

What we wanted to do was to give everyone a break and let you have some fun for a couple of weeks. We’re presenting you with challenges that, while seemingly completely impractical, will actually challenge you to use some skills that could come in handy, and in very practical situations.

For some of us, this is about learning to use VBA; for others, it’s about giving you a chance to put your VBA skills to the test in new and unexpected ways. For all of us, this is all about having fun.

How Does This Work?

We’re going to present you with ten challenges in each of two divisions: Novice and Experienced. (You’re welcome to enter in both divisions if you’d like to.) Each challenge is worth a certain number of goldfish. Why goldfish? Well, we could have just gone by points, but if you’ve ever been to a local fair or carnival (at least in the U.S.), one prize that’s typically given away for the various games is a goldfish swimming around in a little plastic bag. Sticking with the theme of having some fun with this, we decided to award virtual goldfish rather than points. (That might seem silly to you, but just humor us.)

So each challenge is worth a certain number of goldfish, depending on level of difficulty. When you’ve completed a challenge, send in your code, along with your name or an alias. (Please send just the code, not the entire Word document or Excel spreadsheet.) We’ll test each entry (yes, we’re really going to run your code to make sure it successfully completes the challenge), and, if the code works as described in the challenge description, you’ll receive the number of goldfish specified for that challenge. Note that we won’t be giving away partial goldfish – you either get the challenge right and get all the goldfish, or you get no goldfish.

OK, technically you won’t get any goldfish even if you are right; after all, these are virtual goldfish. But you know what we mean.

We’ll be posting updated scores at least once a day. There are no awards for finishing on top, but you will have the honor and glory of having earned the most virtual goldfish handed out during OfficePalooza.

That should be reward enough, right? (Although, just in case it isn’t, we do have a few prizes we’ll be handing out as well. See What Can I Win for more details.)

How Do I Enter?

Each challenge description has instructions for entering. Please follow the instructions carefully. You’ll be sending in your entry via email – like we said earlier, please do not attach any files to the email. Simply copy and paste your code into the message body.

Please send all entries from the same email address. Even though we’ll be listing scores by name or alias, this reduces the possibility that we could mistakenly attribute some of your scores to one person and some to another.

What Do I Get If I Get a Perfect Score?

Bragging rights. The prizes we’re giving away will be awarded as part of a random drawing of everyone who enters at least one challenge. (You don’t even have to successfully complete the challenge; you just have to try to complete the challenge.) If you enter all 10 challenges in both divisions and get a perfect score, you stand just as much of a chance of winning as someone who enters one challenge and gets it wrong. But hey, don’t sell those bragging rights short. Besides, this is just for fun, remember?


What Can I Win?

When OfficePalooza ends, we’ll hold a random drawing of all participants and give away 200 4 GB memory sticks and 100 digital photo keychains. See the official rules for more details on prizes and eligibility.


Why only Microsoft Office 2007?

This event is being put on by the Microsoft Office Developer team. However, OfficePalooza is the brainchild of a small group of people who thought it would be fun to give it a try and see if anyone likes it. We mentioned earlier that we’d be testing each entry to make sure it works. Because we have no idea how many entries we’ll receive, this small group of people wrote the challenges on Office 2007 and will only be able to test on that version. You can try completing the challenges on earlier versions, but we can’t guarantee they’ll work, and we can’t guarantee they’ll work when we test them on Office 2007. That means that even if it you get it working in a previous version, it might not work when we test it. In turn, that means you might not get the points (goldfish).

You can download the trial versions of the Office 2007 products used in these challenges here:

How Do I Learn More About VBA?

We’re glad you asked. For an entire month, beginning on April 15, 2009, Microsoft is featuring content that will help you with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), the Office Fluent UI and Open XML, and in general show you how to "Do more, faster with Office."

Also, each day of OfficePalooza we’ll be highlighting a Microsoft Office 2007 product and pointing you to resources to learn more. Don’t worry if you miss a day; we’ll be keeping a Content Archive page that we’ll be updating with the links to content each day.

If you’re just getting started with VBA you can take a look at our Introduction to VBA article.

You can also check out some of these resources:

MSDN Office Developer Center

Microsoft Office Online

Office System Suites and Programs TechCenter

What If There Are Problems With the Web Site and I Can’t Reach It On the Day My Entry is Due?

We strongly suggest you copy the full schedule we’ve posted, along with the instructions for each event. That way if there are any issues with the site you’ll still be able to enter on time. Ideally the site will be up every day so you can come back and check your scores, plus check out all that great content we just mentioned.


What If I Have More Questions?

Contact us at