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Share Your Spreadsheets with Excel Services in SharePoint 2007 : Page 3

At long last, Excel Services for SharePoint 2007 gives you a way to share spreadsheets easily—calculating and rendering output on the server rather than struggling to maintain multiple individually installed copies.


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Setting Parameters
The "Parameters" tab (see Figure 9) is incredibly useful. It contains the named ranges available on your sheet, and (if necessary) allows you to turn these into parameters that the user can use to pass data into your sheet. For example, in this sample application, if you want the user to input the Stock Ticker, you add this range as a parameter. Because this example doesn't connect to a back-end database to get the earnings and price values for the stock, add them as parameters as well. When you serve the sheet from SharePoint into the browser, you'll see a generated UI that allows you to pass these parameters to the spreadsheet.

 
Figure 9. Entering Parameters in Excel Services: In this dialog, you specify the parameters that you want users to pass into the spreadsheet.
 
Figure 10. Publishing Your Spreadsheet to the Document Library: Specify the path to the SharePoint site to which you want to publish, and save the spreadsheet into the library.
You're now ready to publish. For the file name, specify the path to the SharePoint site that you set up earlier. The dialog will refresh and show you the document library. You can then save the document into the library (see Figure 10). SharePoint publishes your workbook into the document library. If you browse to this document from IE, you'll see an Excel-like generated interface. Remember, your clients do not need to have Excel installed to use the application that you've just built in Excel—that's part of the magic of using SharePoint and Excel services. You can see this in Figure 11. Note the UI on the right hand side of the screen that allows users to pass in parameters.

 
Figure 11. Viewing the Spreadsheet: Excel Services provides a generated Excel-like UI, so clients don't have to have Excel installed to use your spreadsheet.
 
Figure 12. Using Firefox with Excel Services: Here's the sample spreadsheet running in Firefox.
The generated UI isn't IE-specific. You can also use Firefox to view and render the results, as shown in Figure 12. In this article you saw the procedures to configure and use Excel Services with SharePoint 2007. This is a terrific and incredibly useful service that allows you to publish your Excel documents to a server library and let users run them, taking advantage of the Excel's calculation power and formulae. This is important on a number of fronts. First, it prevents version drift of documents—a common problem for companies that use a lot of spreadsheets. Having a centralized repository means that all users can share the same version. Additionally, because the calculations can now run on the server, many users don't even need to have Excel installed! They just need to be able to browse to the SharePoint repository and render the sheet within their browsers. The user who specifies the calculations also becomes the developer of the functionality available to the end users. So, instead of having a developer translate Excel spreadsheets and formulae into a language suitable for Web applications and building a custom UI, your formula experts can simply publish their spreadsheets to Excel and have end users consume them directly.




Laurence Moroney is a freelance enterprise architect who specializes in designing and implementing service-oriented applications and environments using .NET, J2EE, or (preferably) both. He has authored books on .NET and Web services security, and more than 30 professional articles. A former Wall Street architect, and security analyst, he also dabbles in journalism, reporting for professional sports. You can find his blog at http://www.philotic.com/blog.
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