Excel Services in SharePoint

Do you do a lot of work with numbers at work? Then you are certainly familiar with Microsoft Excel. When using Excel do you also find it difficult to share your spreadsheets with your colleagues or your boss? If so, then SharePoint’s Excel Services is going to be a best in class collaboration solution that you will be interested in.




SharePoint’s Excel Services, first introduced in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, is a service application that enables you to load, calculate, and display Microsoft Excel workbooks on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Excel Services help you to reuse and share Excel workbooks on SharePoint Server 2010 portals and dashboards. For instance, financial analysts, business planners, etc. can create content in Excel sheets and share it with others by using a SharePoint Server 2010 portal and dashboard—without writing custom code. The data displayed can be controlled by you. You can maintain a single version of your Excel workbook while sharing it via web based Excel. 

Excel Services is built on ASP.NET and SharePoint Foundation technologies and includes the following core components:

Excel Web Access: Excel Web Access is a viewer page and an Excel Services Web Part that you can add to any Web Parts page in SharePoint Server 2010. Excel Web Access renders (in other words, creates the HTML for) live Excel workbooks on a Web page, and enables the user to interact with those workbooks and explore them.

Excel Web Services: Excel Web Services is the Excel Services component that provides programmatic access to its Web service. You can develop applications that call Excel Web Services to calculate, set, and extract values from workbooks, and to refresh external data connections. By using Excel Web Services, you can incorporate server-side workbook logic into an application, automate the updating of Excel workbooks, and create application-specific user interfaces around server-side Excel calculation.

User-defined functions (UDFs): Excel Services UDFs enable you to use formulas in a cell to call custom functions that are written in managed code and deployed to SharePoint Server 2010.

ECMAScript (JavaScript, JScript): The ECMAScript object model in Excel Services enable developers to customize, automate, and drive the Excel Web Access Web Part control on a page. By using the ECMAScript object model, you can build mashups and other integrated solutions that interact with one or more Excel Web Access Web Part controls on a page or an iframe with script on the page. It also enables you to add more capabilities to your workbooks and code around them.

Representational State Transfer (REST) service: The REST API in Excel Services enables you to access workbook parts or elements directly through a URL. The URL contains a “marker” path, which is the entry point to an .aspx page, to the workbook file location, and to the path to the requested element inside the workbook.

Excel Calculation Services: The role of Excel Calculation Services is to load workbooks, calculate workbooks, call custom code (UDFs), and refresh external data. It also maintains the session state for interactivity. Excel Calculation Services maintains a session for the duration of interactions with the same workbook by a user or caller.

Excel Services supports many features and scenarios which include the following:

o Business Intelligence Portal and Workbook Analysis: A business intelligence portal displays scorecards and reports, and enables users to explore data by using only a browser. Excel Services participates in the BI Center by providing the ability to calculate and expose Excel-based content on integrated BI dashboards.

o Workbooks Management: The workbook management capability of the Excel services maintain only one copy of a workbook created and changed by a trusted author in a central, secure place. It secures and protects workbook models and back-end data. Excel services also helps create snapshots of a workbook.

o Custom Applications: Excel Services help create custom applications—for example, ASP.NET applications—that can:

1. Call Excel Web Services to access, parameterize, and calculate workbooks.

2. Open, refresh external data, set cells or ranges, recalculate, participate in collaborative editing sessions with other applications or people, save, and save as.

3. Use custom workflows to schedule calculation operations or send e-mail notifications.

Above all this, in multiple server configurations, Excel Services load-balances requests across multiple Excel Calculation Services occurrences in a farm configuration. If your installation includes multiple application servers, Excel Services will balance the load in an attempt to help ensure that no single application server is overloaded by requests.

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