The Excel Web App and its missing API

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.

16 thoughts on “The Excel Web App and its missing API

  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 :)

  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

  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.

  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)?

  5. 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

    • 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.

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