Chris Webb's BI Blog

Analysis Services, MDX, PowerPivot, DAX and anything BI-related

The Excel Web App and its missing API

with 16 comments

A few weeks ago I was playing around with the Excel Web App and thinking that, while it’s better than the Google equivalent in some ways, the lack of an API seriously limited its usefulness. So I posted a question on the Excel Web App forum asking what the plans for an API were and got the following answer:

Currently there are no APIs exposed for Excel Web App, and we are not sure if this will be available in the future.

This was more than a little disappointing, to say the least… So I replied with reasons why an API would be a good idea and got Jamie to join in (he and I have very similar views on this type of subject) as well. You can read the whole thread here:
http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/officewebapps/thread/eaa565f1-83b6-4e7c-a1ec-af31fc3d7a73

In summary, what I’d like to see is the Excel Web App be able to do the following:

  • Consume data from multiple data source types, such as OData, and display that data in a table
  • Expose the data in a range or a table as an OData feed

I think it would enable all kinds of interesting scenarios where you need data to be both human-readable and also, at the same time, machine-readable: for example, imagine being able to publish data in a spreadsheet online and then have your business partners consume that data in PowerPivot at the click of a button. The posts on the thread go into a lot more detail so I’d encourage you to read it; also Jon Udell picked up the issue and blogged about it here:
http://blog.jonudell.net/2010/06/30/web-spreadsheets-for-humans-and-machines/ 

And now I need your help: the Excel Web App dev team asked for specific scenarios where an API would prove useful and both Jamie and I provided some, but I think the more we get (and the more people show that they want an API) the better. So if you’ve got some ideas on how you would use an API for the Excel Web App then please post them on the thread! The more noise we make, the more likely it is we can change the dev team’s mind.

Written by Chris Webb

July 2, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Posted in Excel

16 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Chris,No replies on the Excel API thread as yet but keep pluggng away! I certainly will. I\’ve got a few moreideas/use cases brewing as well!-Jamiep.s. That\’s my old blog :)

    Jamie

    July 5, 2010 at 1:11 am

  2. I was looking to use the Excel Web App as a place to store an excel spreadsheet that contained data needed to be shared across the internet in the absense of a sharepoint site we could store the data in. I was going to use this excel spreadsheet as a source for an SSIS package to import the data into a database for further processing. So I\’d like to see an SSIS Source Adapter for an excel web app. Thanks! Ben

    Ben

    July 7, 2010 at 1:12 am

  3. Ben, can you add this comment to the thread mentioned above? The more people tell the Excel team they want an API the more likely they\’ll deliver one.

    Chris

    July 7, 2010 at 12:11 pm

  4. "while it’s better than the Google equivalent in some ways"… Does the Excel Web App have a way yo accomplish "fill" (up, down across)?

    Jamshid

    July 12, 2010 at 4:10 am

  5. No, it doesn\’t do autofill as far as I can see

    Chris

    July 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

  6. Jamshid,A couple of days ago they introduced the FIll Handle into Excel web app (which I presume is what you mean by autofill).

    Jamie

    September 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    • I’ve been using Google docs, so I missed this. Yes, I tried it and it works!

      Jamshid Faryar

      December 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm

  7. [...] web app, but again we need pivot table support in the web app to complete the picture (see here and here for more discussion on this topic). I hope it comes soon! GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "0"); [...]

  8. [...] Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 be translated to the cloud and be made available to all Excel users? Why doesn’t the Excel Web App have any kind of API yet? I’m sure all the usual responses about lack of time and resources can be reused here, but I’d [...]

  9. [...] good thing about Google Docs (unlike, ahem, the Excel Web App) is that it has an API. The contents of this sheet could easily be exported to a number of formats [...]

  10. [...] The Excel Web App and its missing API (A blog post from Chris) [...]

  11. Excel Services is a sharepoint 2010 Enterprise service application which exposes a REST API for Excel documents. While this may never be available on free sites such as skydrive & excelmashups, it is currently available on Office 365 ‘E’ level plans.

    Josh

    jbooker

    February 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    • Thanks Josh – I am aware of the Excel Services REST API, it’s just I’d like to see Excel Services support OData too and I’d like to see an OData API on the Excel Web App too. OData is after all the emerging standard, at least as far as MS products are concerned.

      Chris Webb

      February 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  12. [...] my next trick, and to go back to another issue that Jamie and I have been moaning about for years, I would have liked to consume the data in this table via an OData feed as detailed here: [...]

  13. [...] earlier discussions of data stores that are simultaneously human readable and machine readable (see here and here). I can see it as being the glue for elaborate multi-spreadsheet-based solutions, although [...]

  14. [...] The Excel Web App and its missing API by Chris Webb Published Monday, July 30, 2012 4:07 PM by jamiet Filed under: excel, Power View [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,868 other followers

%d bloggers like this: