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Joel on Software

MS Excel as a Datasource

Is it possible to use MS Excel as a datasource in a web application (ASP.NET)?  Will ADO.NET allow you to connect to the spreadsheet and add/edit/delete data?  I know it would be easy to dump the spreadsheet into an actual database, but for some reason the client does not want to do this.  I appreciate your comments and help.

Am I crazy?
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Yep! Check out

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Yes, it is possible:

...with some caveats:

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Thanks for the direction.  It was a big help.  It looks like I'll be writing code to query a spreadsheet and display it on the web. 

Am I crazy?
Thursday, January 20, 2005

I've done this...

The client wanted a fairly complicated calculation pipeline (that included using excel's solver).  We could have just shown them the spreadsheet, but they wanted a "web prototype", so we took the info through forms and piped it through excel on the backend.  There's a flag where you can tell excel to actually launch visibly on the server.  It's kind of entertaining to watch the screen as excel magically starts up, values get entered, the solver runs, and excel closes.  At the time, we used ASP with a VB/COM piece to automate excel, though there's probably a better way to do this now.  Even though we told the client about the excel element of this approach, they still seemed happier to see it running through a browser.  It probably helped them visualize how the system would actually be used.  This was also back in the day when anything "on the web" generated a lot of buzz. 

I wouldn't recommend using excel like this in production, though.  For prototyping, excel on the backend is a useful tool, but I an "excel server" doesn't sound like an especially scalable solution. 

Hmmm...  it might not be a bad thing to have, though.  Complex calculation pipeline are fairly common, and they can often be set up easily in excel.  Has MS done anything like this? 

gee bee
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

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