Leverage the .Net framework classes from VBA

Introduction

Following my previous article on a similar subject, Extend your VBA code with C#, VB.Net or C++/CLI, I’ve received an interesting feedback from a VBA developer who wanted to leverage the advanced support of the .Net framework for regular expressions.

This is clearly another interesting use-case for Excel addins and in this article I’ll quickly demonstrate how to build a wrapper which will close the gap between your VBA code and the .Net framework.

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Relative performance of ReaderWriterLockSlim

Introduction

I’ve recently wanted to demonstrate the relevance of the .Net ReaderWriterLock[Slim] synchronization primitives.
It’s good to hear from the vendor that it’s better, faster, stronger, but when you can it’s always good to evaluate it yourself; not that I don’t trust vendors, but because I like to have hard numbers, particularly when I assert something that can be critical for my participants’ developments.

So I’ve built a small, simple and I hope relevant benchmark to measure the performance impact of ReaderWriterLock[Slim] compared to the naive and uniform use of a Monitor using the C# lock construct.

I wanted to check these two things:

  • that the RW locks behave as advertised,
  • what is the profile of the gain function.

In this article I’ll explain the rationales behind the benchmark, how I’ve implemented it and finally present the results.

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Synchronization, memory visibility and leaky abstractions

Introduction

First a warning, this is a difficult article which goes really deep inside the .Net machinery so if you don’t get it the first time (or even the second or third time…) don’t worry and come back later. :)

For a training session I’ve taught at the end of last year I wanted to demonstrate some subtleties of multi-threading, and more specifically some memory visibility issues that should cause a program to hang.
So I developed a small sample that I expected would be showing the issue, but instead of hanging as expected the program completed!

After manipulating the program further I obtained the behavior I wanted, the program was hanging, but it still didn’t explained why it managed to complete with my original version.

<SPOILER>
I suspected some JITter optimizations, and indeed it was the case, but I needed more information to completely explain this strange behavior.
As often, the StackOverflow platform was of great help; if you’re curious you can have a look at the original SO thread.
</SPOILER>

In this article I’ll “build” and explain the issue step by step, trying to make it more understandable than the SO thread which is indeed quite dry.

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