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Let me summarise what you would like to version control and why:

  1. What:

    • Code (VBA)
    • Spreadsheets (Formulae)
    • Spreadsheets (Values)
    • Charts
    • ...
  2. Why:

    • Collaboration
    • Version comparison ("diffing")
    • Merging
    • Easy to use

As others have posted here, there are a couple of solutions on top of existing version control systems such as:

  • Git
  • Mercurial
  • Subversion
  • Bazaar

If your only concern is the VBA code in your workbooks, then the approach Demosthenex above proposes or VbaGit (https://github.com/brucemcpherson/VbaGit) work very well working and are relatively simple to implement. The advantages are that you can rely on well proven version control systems and chose one according to your needs (have a look at https://help.github.com/articles/what-are-the-differences-between-svn-and-git/ for a brief comparison between Git and Subversion).

The tricky bit though is to integrate this into the user's workflow and tools (Excel and VBE): For example, I hit "save" frequently to not lose any work; if it's a major change I do "SaveAs". Unless there is some magic that does the VBA export behind the scenes, it is very hard for me to change my workflow (I am lazy).

If you not only worry about code but also about the data in your sheets ("hardcoded" values and formula results), you can use a similar strategy for that: Serialise the contents of your sheets into some text format (via Range.Value) and use an existing version control system. Here's a very good blog post about this: https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/ucftpw2/2013/10/18/Using+git+for+version+control+of+spreadsheet+models+-+part+1+of+3

The downside of this approach is that diffing and merging won't work very well. Imagine, you add an empty column between two versions. As Git, Subversion, Bazaar etc treat your spreadsheet (two dimensional) as text (one dimensional), a diff will yield as many deltas as you have rows in your sheet: From a one-dimensional perspective, there is a change on each and every row (a column insert).

Things get even more complicated when you want to compare formulas: Imagine your sheet in cell B1 looks like this:

= A1 + 1

Next, you add an empty row in row 1, which shifts your formula in B1 down to C1 and in turn adjusts turns your formula into:

= B1 + 1

If you simply serialise this out as text, you get a diff that looks like this:

+ - =A1+1 + =B1+1

That's a lot of noise for what it really should be showing:

+ = =B1+1

We are not interested in changes of cell references unless it implies an actually modified formula.

Comparing spreadsheets is a non-trivial problem and, depending on the chosen algorithm, a computationally expensive task. There are a few good tools around, such as Microsoft's Spreadsheet Compare (https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Overview-of-Spreadsheet-Compare-13fafa61-62aa-451b-8674-242ce5f2c986), Exceldiff (http://exceldiff.arstdesign.com/) and DiffEngineX (https://www.florencesoft.com/compare-excel-workbooks-differences.html).

The downside is, these comparison tools solve only one part of the puzzle (diffing). Sharepoint, though being a bit heavy, provides a more holistic solution, allowing users - to a certain extend - to collaborate, version track and merging changes to their workbooks. It does, however, require a change in the workflow but is usually the preferred solution in the enterprise world.

Finally (and I really do not intend to do any spamming here), there is another solution to this problem I've been working on for the past two and a half years: I've tried to tackle the issues

  • Workflow integration
  • Native two-dimensional Diffing
  • Collaboration

in a single solution. It is a server/client app (think SVN/Turtoise or Git/GitHub). The core diffing algorithm is an extension of the "Row/Column Align" algorithm (http://web.engr.oregonstate.edu/scaffidc/papers/eu_20121001_ssdiff.pdf).

I have recently added public projects (and a public account is free) to facilitate sharing workbooks, formula/code snippets among the community. Here's an example of such a project (which takes you to the sheet diff): https://app.pathio.com/bjoernstiel/Column-Compare/sheets/Sheet1/versions/47b46863898aa0748a17c70345769ba1baba2795


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