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Comments on the Future of VORSIM - Vernon Oley Roningen

Support:  VORSIM has evolved over the years as its host, the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, has evolved.  It also has evolved because of the need to address new kinds of modeling problems.  The current version, VORSIM 15, uses Excel 2013 or 2016 and is better and more powerful than earlier versions (1-14).  I will provide support for VORSIM 15 through Sept. 2018 but no longer for VORSIM versions 14 or earlier.  To deal with a model problem in earlier versions such as 14, it is easier to convert the model to version 15 and work with it there.  VORSIM 15 should be compatible with newer versions of Excel to come, but time will tell.

Upgrades:  There has never been an upgrade policy for VORSIM since an upgrade is technically difficult in VBA and the cost of the newer VORSIM version has been low.  It is much cheaper for you to buy the new version of VORSIM than what I would have to charge for a manual upgrade.  If you find an error in VORSIM 15 you purchase, I will send an updated version if I can correct the error.

VORSIM website:  As Excel and VORSIM have evolved over time, so has the VORSIM website.  Some website and User’s Guide pages have not changed much while others have been completely done.  Many pages have been partly revised and may contain old and new VORSIM features.

Spreadsheet modeling:  Models are created in Excel using its equation and “Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)” capability.  One can manually build models in Excel, but as they become larger, it becomes difficult to keep track of variables and data.  VORSIM software imposes some Excel based structural regularity on the model-building process.  The result is that you always know exactly where your data and equations are located and the variable nomenclature reflects this model structure.  A VORSIM model structure follows the spreadsheet structure using workbooks and sheets in workbooks.   So VORSIM changes a modeling effort to a structured one rather than an ad hoc creation of variables and equations in spreadsheets.  In addition, VORSIM makes it relatively easy to use complex spreadsheet features such a pivot tables for examining model solutions.  Once created, complex equations can be modified and re-written with the click of a button rather than having to be dealt with manually.  The spirit of VORSIM is that tedious spreadsheet and workbook tasks which take a lot time manually, have been automated.

Advantages:  VORSIM has been mainly used for partial equilibrium modeling around available data sources.  The strength of VORSIM lies in its ability to help organize a model and its data and to quickly repeat many model building operations.  It is no exaggeration that most VORSIM models I have built have been reconstructed from scratch many times before they are acceptable.  However this is easy because data and equations once created and backed up, can be restored to a revised model with the click of a button.  VORSIM simplifies the mechanics of model building leaving more for the model builder to think about the workings of their model.  Of course a good modeling system such as VORSIM cannot fix an unstable or non-logical model; building a useful model that works is the task of the model builder in any modeling system.  Since VORSIM operates within the Excel spreadsheet, all of the spreadsheet tools and capabilities are available to the modeler along with the VORSIM software.

Criticisms:  Critics have said that VORSIM models are too ad hoc or are not adequate because they are not general equilibrium.  While these criticisms may be true, an understandable VORSIM-built model is very useful for meeting analytical deadlines for a problem.  A useful model is a) one that works, b) one that the builder understands, and c) one that can be clearly explained to others and d) one that delivers results to meet a deadline.   Furthermore the most important product of a VORSIM model-building effort is the education of the builder when he is forced to test his hunches against real data and rational equation structures.  General equilibrium models are costly but useful for what they are and for the sector breakdown that they contain.  But tacking on problems to a fixed sector CGE model also can be an ad hoc procedure.  The Excel spreadsheet is a very good analytical tool which has become more complex over time.  VORSIM was created to simplify the use of Excel complexities for model-building, but over the years, VORSIM has also necessarily become more complex.  However the core programs of VORSIM have remained relatively constant over time.

The Future:  VORSIM version 15 for Excel 2013 is as advanced as it can be for now.  Although VORSIM version 15 still may still have some bugs in seldom-used routines, the key routines to build and simulate models have been extensively tested are the best ever. 

VORSIM as a Business:  VORSIM as a software and consulting business closed as of December 31, 2017.  However, the VORSIM website will be maintained through September 2018 as a courtesy to existing users.  If someone wants to purchase the business, what does it consist of?  A U.S. trademarked name (VORSIM), U.S. patented software (VORSIM modeling software), and sample models (trademarks in the EU and other countries have or will expire soon).  For someone to use VORSIM in a consulting business requires VORSIM model-building experience.  Since my VORSIM business is closed, further development will not be done by me.  Offers to buy the VORSIM software (unlocked for further development) will be considered with a minimum offer of $5,000.  Contact Vernon Roningen for further information or questions.