Last updated on August 26, 2021
How to use Git hooks to version-control your Excel VBA code
Exporting your VBA modules into stand-alone
.frm files is a simple and effective way to make Git aware of code inside your Excel workbooks. The goal is to end up with a separate files for each of your VBA modules so that you can benefit from the Git functionalities.
One common way to achieve this is via Excel’s
Workbook.BeforeSave) event. Every time you hit “save” in Excel, some VBA code is executed and saves a copy of your workbook’s VBA content to the filesystem. You end up with your VBA files alongside your workbook which can then be pushed to your Git server.
There are a few downsides to using Excel events. You are dependent on Excel, so if you copy your workbook from an email or another folder into your Git repository folder, your VBA export function will not run. Distributing the export function (either via copy and paste or as an Addin) and ensuring it runs reliably is another pain point.
An alternative approach is to exploit Git’s built-in hooks. Hooks are programs you can place in a hooks directory to trigger actions at certain points in Git’s execution. You can find a list of available hooks in https://git-scm.com/docs/githooks. We will use the pre-commit hook to do the following when you call
- extract the VBA modules from your workbook and write them as
.frmfiles to your repository
- add these VBA files to your commit via
git add -- ./src.vba
- finally execute the
A Python script to extract your VBA code
We use the Python package oletools to extract the VBA code from the Excel file (in fact, this works for any MS Office file). Thus, we no longer have to resort to Excel itself to get hold of the VBA code.
Our script requires Python 3 and oletools.
oletools can be installed via pip, Python’s package manager:
pip install -U oletools.
Create a file named
pre-commit.py in the
.git/hooks folder inside your repository and add the following code:
NOTE: The following code has been updated multiple times according to feedback, last time: 26-Aug-2021
import os import shutil from oletools.olevba3 import VBA_Parser EXCEL_FILE_EXTENSIONS = ('xlsb', 'xls', 'xlsm', 'xla', 'xlt', 'xlam',) KEEP_NAME = False # Set this to True if you would like to keep "Attribute VB_Name" def parse(workbook_path): vba_path = 'src.vba' vba_parser = VBA_Parser(workbook_path) vba_modules = vba_parser.extract_all_macros() if vba_parser.detect_vba_macros() else  for _, _, filename, content in vba_modules: lines =  if '\r\n' in content: lines = content.split('\r\n') else: lines = content.split('\n') if lines: content =  for line in lines: if line.startswith('Attribute') and 'VB_' in line: if 'VB_Name' in line and KEEP_NAME: content.append(line) else: content.append(line) if content and content[-1] == '': content.pop(len(content)-1) non_empty_lines_of_code = len([c for c in content if c]) if non_empty_lines_of_code > 0: if not os.path.exists(os.path.join(vba_path)): os.makedirs(vba_path) with open(os.path.join(vba_path, filename), 'w', encoding='utf-8') as f: f.write('\n'.join(content)) if __name__ == '__main__': for root, dirs, files in os.walk('.'): for f in dirs: if f.endswith('.vba'): shutil.rmtree(os.path.join(root, f)) for f in files: if f.endswith(EXCEL_FILE_EXTENSIONS): parse(os.path.join(root, f))
This Python script finds any Excel files that can contain VBA and dumps the content into a subfolder named
Note that this script works unchanged if you only use 1 workbook. If you have more than one Workbook in one repository, you’ll need to replace
vba_path = 'src.vba' with
vba_path = workbook_path + '.vba'
and edit your
pre-commit file below accordingly to have a
git add -- ./<workbookname>.vba line for each of your workbooks.
Setting up the Git pre-commit hook
The only missing bit is to set up the Git
pre-commit now. Create the file
.git/hooks inside your repository and add the following code:
#!/bin/sh python .git/hooks/pre-commit.py git add -- ./src.vba
Note: On Mac you need to run
chmod +x .git/hooks/pre-commit, otherwise it will not trigger the hook.
From now on, when you execute
git commit, the hook extracts the VBA code and adds it to your commit. You automatically end up with the
.bas files without having to rely on Excel.
In order to automagically export your workbook’s VBA modules into stand-alone text files
git commit, you need:
- Python with
- the files
With that in place, any
git commit automatically takes care of dumping your workbooks
VBA content as text files to your filesystem. Which is something that Git understands well.
Before you go: a zero-setup, open-source alternative
If you are less of a DIY person, I recommend checking out our free, open-source Git extension Git XL. Instead of having to rely on a workaround, xltrail client is a Git extension that integrates
directly with Git and makes
git diff work with Excel workbook files. It also supports
git merge for those instances where your colleague works on the same workbook and you need to merge their changes in. Plus, xltrail
client goes a step beyond the VBA-only approach and also understands sheets. For installation instructions, docs and an example video, check out the docs and the GitHub repository.