New Update and Some Free Tips

There is a new version of the BidSmart Estimator with your favorite fixes and new features (also some of mine) available now. The EXTENSIVE list of fixes and new features is at the end of this post. As always go to the Estimator’s Main page to download this update. This version is 2.0 – 12.16.22. See this post, How to Update the BidSmart Estimator, for help and advice on updating your Estimates. You should update to the new version because of a new safety check at the workbook closing…see the list of fixes.

Tip One

The first tip is “Do not leave the Estimator Unprotected“. If you UnProtect it from either the Main ribbon menu or the Developer Utilities form, do not perform your normal data input and other “regular” estimating activities in an Unprotected state. The option to Unprotect the Estimate is for advanced users who want to tweak or fix things on their own.

If you have done this, you may have seen some strange formatting with line items in the wrong place. This can also produce “stray” number values or text in odd locations on the estimate. These can be fixed manually, but it is usually a time-consuming process, and many times fruitless.

The newly updated Repair/Resync algorithm will fix a good deal of these problems if not all of them. The Repair tool has been significantly updated in this new version. It does a lot, but it can’t fix everything. Sometimes a badly trashed Estimate just needs to either be Imported into a “clean” workbook (which you should always have available) or started again fresh. However, the Repair/Resync tool will usually save the day. A pristine version of the Estimator can always be downloaded from here.

Tip Two

The next two issues require the use of Excel’s VBA Editor. To access the Editor you select the Developer tab of the Ribbon menu if you don’t have the Ribbon’s Developer tab available follow these steps:

  • From Excel’s File tab, at the bottom left select Options then select Customize Ribbon.
  • Under Customize the Ribbon and under Main Tabs, select the Developer check box.
  • Click OK and the Developer tab will now be on Excel’s Ribbon.
  • Select the Developer tab and at the far left select Visual Basic to open the VBA Editor.
The VBA Editor Tools Menu item

Now tip two. If you seem to be having random errors that “break” the program it might due to one wrong setting The estimator has almost two hundred error-handling routines to trap almost any error, so when errors show up regularly and often this may be the issue. From inside the VBA Editor select Tools then Options from the Editor’s main menu. This will open the Editor’s Options dialog box. Select the General tab and make sure that the Break on Unhandled Errors is checked. If Break on All Errors is checked then every error will fire an error event and usually open a message dialog asking for your input.

VBA Editor Options General tab

Tip Three

Some errors are caused by not referencing the correct Object Library. The error numbers which are raised and displayed will generally be greater than 5 numbers, and in many cases be negative. The error description may tell you what you need to do, but often not. The fix for this is relatively simple. This is also explained in the new version of the Quick Start Guide under “Errors and Workarounds“.

For VBA programmers, there should be no need to explain how to open the References dialog, or even set the Object references. It is quite a simple process for anyone. If you can open Excel’s VBA Editor then you are set. Your listing may be slightly different than the one below and you may need to scroll through the list to find and select the correct libraries.

VBA Object References dialog

The selections shown above are the only ones needed for the Estimator to run without Object library reference errors. Your Excel setup may include more selections, but the 7 shown Object libraries are all we ask for.

Fixes and New Features

As you can see below everything in the downloadable zip file was updated, including the Readme file. You really should read it. The following explains things in as much detail as I think that you will need to use the Estimator.

Quick Start Guide

The Quick Start Guide had an old image of the Ribbon menu and the menu items were not referenced well. Menu items in the Expert/Developer menu were not referenced properly. In fact, a couple were not mentioned at all. There were also references to the old licensing activation form and some features that were locked when not licensed. This is fixed. There are several other updates in the document as well.

The Fix List

  • The Repair/Resync tool was updated to handle more issues with trashed formatting (especially that which was done with the Estimate Unprotected.) It really does a more safe and more thorough job now.
  • Right-clicking on the Description of Work text box on the Data Entry form when the line item is a SubTotal will show the formula as usual. However, now you can Inspect it to see if it is what you want to subtotal AND edit it if you need to change the selected rows.
SubTotal Inspect or Edit dialog box
  • More error-handling routines were added and existing ones were fixed, expanded, or streamlined.
  • Added a check when each Estimate closes for another open Estimate. If there are more open the closing one will not return some of Excel’s Application wide properties back to “normal”, or at least their previous state. This is a major reason to update to this version.
  • Less screen flashing when using the Data Entry and Import forms.
  • Spelling errors on some forms and in several messages have been fixed.
  • Wording on some forms and messages has been rewritten to be easier to understand and more accurate.
  • Fixed several regressions (bugs caused by previous fixes or new code.)
  • Many other bugs or other annoying issues were addressed and will hopefully be history.

There are always more bugs and spelling corrections to make. If you find any let me know.

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