Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Excel 2007 and SAS Programmers

SAS-L is always having questions on Excel (and sometimes Word and PowerPoint). Office 2007 has now gone to beta 2 and should go production by the end of the year.

There are some areas that might be of relevance to SAS programmers who have to interface with the new Excel 2007.

- Color coding of cells by value is now very, very easy for users to do. So easy in fact that it is 1 click for the entire sheet.
- Cell formatting, coloring, etc. is now wide-open and very, very easy to do.
- Color choices now expand to 16M
- Rows go to 1M, columns to 65K
- Pivot tables no longer expand into other columns but remain fixed in the 1 column
- The file format for Excel files will be changing. Currently, it is binary. The new file format will be XML based, may contain multiple files, and all of them will be zipped up into a single package
- Etc., etc.

The reason I mention this is because a) it’s on my mind, b) I'm at TechEd and just saw mor eof this stuff, and c) I think it may have significant impact on SAS programmers. BTW, the beta 2 of Office may be one of the largest download activities ever seen by Microsoft (500K+ in 2 days).

I can see users using Excel a lot more for data storage. Also, expect a lot more data to be displayed by color-coding rather than value-based.

Why should SAS users care?

It will break a lot of existing paradigms for reading Excel and from what we expect from users. Data will now be stored a lot more in unstructured forms and there will be a lot more data. Also, users will expect Excel sheets to be done nicely and not just be a data dump.

The move of SAS programmers away from using DDE is long overdue. As difficult as it may be for many, the use of Excel object models will becoome more and more of a job necessity IMO.

For what it's worth...

Alan

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