• 03 Mar, 2024

VBA Vs. Python Speed - Let's Dive In

VBA Vs. Python Speed - Let's Dive In

In general, Python is considered faster than VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). Python is a more modern and versatile programming language optimized for various tasks. VBA, while powerful for automating tasks within Microsoft applications like Excel, might be slower for complex computations compared to Python. If speed is a crucial factor, Python is often a better choice.

The Significance of Speed    

Efficient programming isn't just about saving time; it's about crafting applications that respond promptly to user inputs. Whether you're manipulating vast datasets with Python  or automating complex tasks in Excel using VBA, the need for speed is universal. This guide will delve into strategies aimed at accelerating Python and VBA, providing you with a toolkit to make your programming faster and more effective.    


Strategies for Optimizing Python Performance    


Profiling tools, such as cProfile, empower Python developers to identify performance bottlenecks. For instance, consider the following Python code snippet:      

Python code
import cProfile
def slow_function():
    # ... your slow code ...

This simple profiling example can reveal which parts of your code need attention for optimization.

Data Structures  

Python offers various data structures, each with its strengths. For example, when dealing with a large dataset, opting for a set to perform quick membership tests can significantly improve performance.

Python code
large_dataset = {1, 2, 3, ...}
if user_input in large_dataset:
    # Perform a fast operation

Balancing Memory with Efficiency  

Fine-tuning garbage collection using Python's gc module strikes a delicate balance. Consider adjusting the garbage collection threshold:      

Python code
import gc
# Set the garbage collection threshold
gc.set_threshold(700, 10, 5)

This allows you to manage memory more efficiently.    

Harnessing Numba for Compilation  

Numba, a Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler, introduces a transformative element to Python code. Here's an example using Numba to speed up a numerical function:      

Python code
from numba import jit
def fast_numerical_function(x, y):
    # ... your fast numerical code ...

The @jit decorator indicates that this function should be compiled for better performance.      

Multiprocessing for Enhanced Workloads   

Python's multiprocessing module facilitates parallel processing. For instance, consider parallelizing a time-consuming task:    

Python code
from multiprocessing import Pool
def process_data_chunk(chunk):
    # ... your data processing code ...
data_chunks = [...]
with Pool(processes=4) as pool:
    pool.map(process_data_chunk, data_chunks)

This allows multiple processes to work simultaneously, speeding up your program.      

Cython Integration   

The integration of Cython into Python workflows introduces static typing and harnesses the efficiency of C. Here's a simple example:      

Python code
# mymodule.pyx
def my_cython_function(int x, int y):
    # ... your Cython code ...
# setup.py
from setuptools import setup
from Cython.Build import cythonize

This compiles your Python code with Cython for improved performance  

NumPy's Symphony  

Python's built-in functions, exemplified by the powerful NumPy library, offer efficient operations on arrays. For example:      

Python code
import numpy as np
# Summing elements in an array
my_array = np.array([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])
total_sum = np.sum(my_array)

NumPy  provides optimized functions for array operations, making your code faster and more concise  

Elevating VBA Performance  

Strategic Worksheet Operations  

VBA's efficiency in Excel is contingent on judicious worksheet interaction. Consider the following example:    

vba code
Sub OptimizeExcelInteraction()
    Dim dataRange As Range
    ' Assume dataRange is a large range in Excel
    ' Read data into an array for efficient processing
    Dim dataArray As Variant
    dataArray = dataRange.Value
    ' Perform operations on the array
    ' ...
    ' Write the modified data back to the Excel range
    dataRange.Value = dataArray
End Sub

This minimizes the performance impact associated with frequent cell interactions.    

Turning Off Screen Updating   

Temporarily disabling screen updating during VBA code execution expedites processes. Use the following code template  

vba code
Sub SpeedyVBA()
    ' Turn off screen updating
    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    ' Your VBA code here
    ' Turn on screen updating again
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

This minimizes visual disruptions caused by constant screen refreshes.  

Variable Type Vigilance   

Explicitly declaring variable types in VBA contributes to enhanced memory efficiency. For example:  

vba code
Sub VariableTypes()
    Dim myNumber As Integer
    ' ... your code ...
    Dim myString As String
    ' ... your code ...
End Sub

This ensures that VBA utilizes memory resources judiciously  

Volatility Awareness    

Volatile functions, triggering recalculation with every change, can impede performance. Strategically limiting their use or temporarily disabling automatic recalculation mitigates unnecessary overhead and accelerates VBA code execution.    

Array Processing for Efficient Operations  

Embracing array processing in VBA circumvents the inefficiencies associated with individual cell interactions. For instance:  

vba code
Sub ArrayProcessing()
    ' Assume dataRange is a range in Excel
    Dim dataRange As Range
    ' Read data into an array for efficient processing
    Dim dataArray As Variant
    dataArray = dataRange.Value
    ' Perform operations on the array
    ' ...
    ' Write the modified data back to the Excel range
    dataRange.Value = dataArray
End Sub

Grouping operations with arrays significantly reduces the number of interactions with Excel, promoting faster VBA code execution.    

Event Optimization   

Thoughtful management of events triggered by VBA code prevents unnecessary recalculations and interruptions. For example:   

vba code
Sub OptimizeEvents()
    ' Turn off events
    Application.EnableEvents = False
    ' Your VBA code here
    ' Turn on events again
    Application.EnableEvents = True
End Sub

This ensures that VBA executes tasks smoothly without undue delays caused by excessive events.  

Strategic Recalculation   

Temporarily transitioning Excel to manual calculation mode before running intense VBA operations, coupled with a return to automatic calculation afterward, represents a simple yet impactful strategy to boost VBA speed.    

In Conclusion    

VBA Vs. Python Speed: optimizing the speed of your  Python and VBA code  is not merely a technical endeavor; it's a journey of continuous refinement and discovery. As you incorporate these practical strategies and examples into your coding repertoire, you embark on a path that leads not only to faster and more efficient programs but also to a deeper understanding of the intricacies of programming languages.    


The significance of speed transcends the immediate gains in execution time. It is about crafting code that not only performs well but is also maintainable, scalable, and adaptive to evolving requirements. Your commitment to optimizing Python and VBA showcases a dedication to delivering exceptional user experiences and fostering a robust coding discipline. Consider this journey as a dynamic process. Embrace the iterative nature of programming, where each line of code can be an opportunity for improvement. The strategies outlined here provide a solid foundation, but remember that technology evolves, and so should your coding practices. Stay curious, explore emerging tools and techniques, and keep refining your skills.    


As you implement these strategies, you are not just enhancing the speed of your code; you are elevating your capabilities as a programmer. The ability to optimize for speed is a testament to your proficiency in understanding the nuances of each language and employing strategies that align with the unique characteristics of  Python and VBA  . In the realm of Python, you're not merely writing code; you're conducting a symphony of data structures, profiling tools, and compiler magic. The orchestra of NumPy arrays and multiprocessing ensembles complements your coding journey, creating a harmonious blend of efficiency and elegance.    


Likewise, in the VBA realm, you're not just automating  Excel ; you're orchestrating a ballet of strategic worksheet interactions, screen updating choreography, and event management. Each line of VBA code becomes a dance move, contributing to the seamless execution of tasks within the Excel ecosystem. The journey to optimize Python and VBA is a celebration of your role as a coding artisan. It's about crafting solutions that not only meet functional requirements but do so with finesse, speed, and a touch of your unique programming style. 


As you continue your programming goals, remember that the pursuit of speed is not a destination but an ongoing exploration. Cherish the lessons learned from optimizing Python and VBA, and let them guide you as you delve into new languages, paradigms, and challenges. The skills cultivated on this journey will be the bedrock of your proficiency as a programmer, enabling you to navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology with confidence and creativity.    


To accelerate your programming journey, each line of code takes you forward, every optimization becomes a stepping stone toward coding excellence. Happy coding, and may your programs run faster than ever before!    


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Aiden Blenkiron

Hello, I'm Aiden Blenkiron, a Tech blog writer with a Computer Science Degree from Stanford University. Since 2019, I've been sharing insights on Tech innovations and I have contributed along to major brands like TechInsider and WiredTech. My aim is to simplify complex concepts and keep you updated in the dynamic Tech landscape.