Wednesday, February 6, 2013

SkyDrive - Embedding an Excel Worksheet - No more file downloads!


Incase you didn't know, I'm a huge fan of SkyDrive, a Microsoft based product that let's you store and share document's in the cloud, giving you access to your files no matter where you are.  As such, I have been deemed a member of the SkyDrive Insider's program.  Should you be interested in becoming an insider, learn more about it here: http://sdrv.ms/V0buD7
A co-worker of mine and I got into a discussion about retirement savings yesterday.  After writing a bunch of stuff on a whiteboard, we eventually realized performing iterative calculations on savings and compounded interest would be much better solved with Excel... nothing groundbreaking there.  After dancing around with some custom calculations, we eventually stumbled upon a well formatted template, complete with a simple to use form section and even a chart (hooray pictures!).


So last night, I went home and thought about that process, and got a little frustrated about it all.  I mean.. it's 2013.. do we really STILL have to Google\Bing\Yahoo!\WebCrawler "Excel Template Retirement", scroll through lists, download a file, un-zip it and open the file?  I mean, not that this is all that difficult, but it just seems so.. non-2013.

As mentioned above, I'm a SkyDrive enthusiast!  I also want the world to know that it's so much more than just storing-a-file-and-having-access-to-it-anywhere-at-anytime-as-long-as-you-have-Internet-access.. because.. you know.. that's so un-impressive.  It also has alot of features to make life simpler, such as not always needed to have a file handy, sometimes all you need is the Internet.  SkyDrive has some awesome features for the web browser that let's you use and interact with files, without the need for downloading them.

So in our instance above, let's say that you already built something like the retirement calculator, or that you found the spreadsheet of your dreams created by SpreadsheetZONE that was hosted on http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/retirement-calculator-TC010370179.aspx, and let's say this thing is working beautifully, but you want to be able to access it from.. say.. a mobile phone or tablet.. or even without having to have a copy of the file.  With SkyDrive, you can EMBED an Excel file.  Very easily too.. here's how.

Within the SkyDrive web application (http://www.skydrive.com) I took the retirement savings calculator and uploaded it to my SkyDrive account within a public folder available here http://sdrv.ms/Wa3dLZ.  With my file SZ_RetirementCalculator1 uploaded,  I can choose the file by clicking on the icon.  Then, I can choose "Embed" on the options menu across the top, and choose to "Generate" HTML to embed the file in a webpage.  Why would I do this?  Well.. so now I can show the following:



Check that out!  I can now have a FULLY INTERACTIVE Excel Workbook available on the web, all by clicking a total of 3 buttons.  And of course, using various security settings within SkyDrive, you can configure this to only read\save access to select audiences if needed, but with very little work, we can now move away from the need of downloading and opening files, and re-searching for files when we lose then, and instead just make use of the web as it was intended!

3 comments:

  1. Eric, thanks for the post. You are right; SkyDrive is a pretty handy tool for embedding documents. But I find it lacking on the iPhone interface.For example,when using the iPhone to write in the page, the focal point suddenly shifts to the upper left hand corner part of the page making it difficult for users to add their input. For example, when I double tap a cell requiring user input, the iPhone keyboard is made visible, so I type in my input. Then I tap on another cell requiring user input. This causes the iPhone’s focal point to shift to the upper left corner of the screen, making it very difficult to input user data.

    I am considering using an Excel SkyDrive document in my website but this problem occurs on the site. If you know how I could accomplish this goal of a consistent focal point, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

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  2. Also for anything over a basic cell input sheet its annoying.

    VBA is disabled (opening in the Web App) and there is no way of forcing the inputer to download to enforce the Shared Workbook option.

    If they can fix that, then it'd be useful

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment Nick. I agree with your sentiments, but I prefer to look at it this way, that you have basic, embeddable spreadsheet content to share information on the web. Given that, even 5 years ago, it was required that users have office installed to see a spreadsheet, the fact that we can now disseminate this information over the web, is what this article was really about. Think about it, even Adobe PDF requires some sort of reader installed, before Windows 8 that wasn't a guaranteed thing. Would VBA enabled workbooks be helpful.. sure.. but how do you go about dealing with the outfall of macro enabled workbooks running in the client browser? Heck, web browsers are getting hijacked, malicious users would have a field day with macro's. So don't view this option as an end all, if you really want a full functioning worksheet in the web, SkyDrive does have some other options (when you log in) and Google Sheets is very good at collaboration, but if you have some data in a spreadsheet that you want to share out, perhaps even to an internal team, it's nice to know that you could just share it on an Intranet somewhere, or publish to your website, and have it visible without requiring any extra software.

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