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What's new for Excel Services (SharePoint Server 2010)

SharePoint 2010

Published: May 8, 2010

Excel Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is designed to help you analyze business data and increase business intelligence. Excel Services is a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 shared service that you can use to publish Microsoft Excel client workbooks on SharePoint Server. The published workbooks are available throughout your organization for knowledge workers to use. Any published workbook can be managed and secured according to your organizational needs and then shared throughout.

With business intelligence, you can store data that represents your organization’s key business processes, organize that data in a useful manner, and present that data as meaningful information. Knowledge workers can act on that information to increase productivity and to provide feedback that improves underlying business processes.

New Excel Services features

Excel Services introduces many new features for the IT professional user. Several of these new features originate in SharePoint Server but directly affect all of the shared services. New shared features and the exclusive features that are added when you deploy Excel Services are discussed in this section.

  • Unattended Service Account   Excel Services provides a low privilege unattended service account for customers to use as a single “get data” type of account. Excel Services relies on the Secure Store Service to store the encrypted unattended account. The unattended service account credentials are stored or cached as needed per session or connection so that when a workbook is loaded that contains a data connection for the unattended service account this account is called from Secure Store and used. Secure Store is available regardless of which authentication option you choose for the farm.

  • Manage Service Applications   The SharePoint Central Administration Web site contains a link to the Manage Service Applications page, which lists all of the services the user has rights to administer. Essentially, all available services for a particular user or role are collected on the Manage Service Applications page. Each service has its own administration page, for example Manage Excel Services.

  • Windows PowerShell   Windows PowerShell can perform a complete Excel Services deployment, and also the unattended installation and deployment of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products. Administrators who need to look up Trusted File Locations and user-defined functions are now able to do this by using a single Windows PowerShell cmdlet. Stsadm commands are no longer supported for Excel Services.

  • Trusted File Locations   Trusted file locations are now provided by default; no administrator action typically is needed. However, if Universal Naming Convention (UNC) types of trusted folders or locations are used with Excel Services, the administrator must create new trusted file locations for these.

  • Delegate Services Permissions   SharePoint Server contains a new shared service infrastructure that allows the farm administrator to delegate permissions to manage services to users.

  • Slicer feature   A slicer is a new type of data filter in Microsoft Excel 2010 that is interactive, flexible in design and layout, and easy to create. Slicers enable users to select one or more items in a group and view the aggregate values of those groups in any reports that are connected to those slicers. For example, suppose that you have a Time slicer that lists months. Users can select one or more months, and any PivotTable reports and PivotChart reports that are connected to that slicer will update automatically to display information for the months that were selected. In Excel Services, slicers appear and function exactly like they do in the Excel client. Now suppose that you also have a Products slicer that lists product categories. Users can select one or more of those product categories—separate from or together with the Time slicer—and any reports connected to that slicer will update automatically to display information for those product categories.

    Slicers are manual filters that do not include advanced filtering capabilities, such as label, date, value, and top-10 types of filtering. Users can connect slicers to multiple PivotTables in Excel. That way, a single slicer can act as a common, shared filter so selections made by using the slicer are automatically propagated to all PivotTables that are connected to it. Additionally, slicers can be formatted by applying styles in Excel.

    Slicers can also serve as parameters to consume inputs from other Web Parts, such as filters.

New Excel Services custom applications

Custom applications are created by using user-defined functions and these functions remain available for Excel Services. Excel Services APIs will work with Excel Services and there are also a few new APIs. User-define functions are common functions that extend the calculation and data-import capabilities of Excel. See the Microsoft MSDN library article, Excel Services User-Defined Functions for more information. There are now two additional methods that are available to build custom applications:

  • REST API   The REST API is a client server software architecture/protocol that defines entities and how to access them. This API uses hyperlinks and is stateless. REST lets the user access entities (ranges, charts) in workbooks using Excel Services through the HTTP protocol and also provides a method for users to set values in these ranges, including single cells.

    The REST API is based on the Representational State Transfer services that are based on two requirements:

    1. Addressing scheme used to locate networked resources

    2. Methodology for returning representations of these resources

  • JSOM or ECMAScript (JScript or JavaScript object model)   ECMAScript enables syndication, mash-ups, automation of Excel Services, and the extension of Excel Services by third parties. It also provides a subset of Microsoft Excel Web Access functionality that lets an administrator or developer insert JavaScript code on a Web page to affect range navigation, cell values, and other grid operations. The ECMAScript mirrors the Excel Services Web services API functionality. However, it is not a proxy for this API.

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