Target non Excel users

I got an email recently about some control that would allow me to target clients that do not have Excel installed.

That got me thinking…

WHY would I target non Excel clients?

Quite frankly I wouldn’t!

For work that I do targeting Windows, generally MS Office is a pre-requisite. Sure I’ve done a few standalone apps in C/C++, VB and .net, but my core work is Office extensibility. Rather unsurprisingly there is an assumption the client will have something to extend.

One possible reason I would not target Excel is if I were not targeting Windows. In that case an Active-x control isn’t going to get me very far is it? I am keen to do more Linux/Open Source dev work, but that will likely be web/server stuff.

Its my feeling that those devs that target Excel don’t often write apps with no spreadsheet component. And there is a whole other world of devs who wouldn’t touch office automation with a barge pole. This component might be useful to them, but to the rest of us, I’m not so sure. What do you think?

Also do you think Excel development is completely polarised? Either you do it most of the time (probably with other apps too), Or you never touch it. I don’t hear of that many folks who do 20/30/40% Excel and 50/60% .net or Java or something, do you?

Seems either 0-10% Excel Dev or 80-100% Excel Dev. Do you see that? why is that? is it good or bad?

(I wonder if its the Excel OM complexity(/power)? and I think its probably bad there is a gaping hole in the middle – the 0-10 is probably IS/IT, and the 80-100 are probably business devs, the gap may represent missed opportunity to use or to avoid Excel as appropriate). What do you think?

When I say Excel dev I am thinking Excel with other tech as required so it includes VBA, ADO, COM, .net etc. I reckon I’m in the 80-100 camp (prob about 90%), where are you?

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4 Responses to “Target non Excel users”

  1. Al Gill Says:

    My viewpoint is fairly industry-specific (mostly financial services) but in this area there is a definite split between:-
    * Analysts who use Excel and will probably write VBA from time-to-time. They spend 90% of their time in front of XL Excel and 100% of their ‘dev’is in Excel
    * Quants who still use Excel but will use and abuse any other technology that happens to be appropriate – there used to be lot’s of good old fashioned C++ where Excel was just a convenient front end for users. Nowadays, there tend to be a lot of browser-based trading tools though and hence quite a lot of java which may even link with ‘proper data sources’

    Re ‘why’- because most analysts have no formal IT / programming training and can’t use anything but Excel – all credit to Microsoft Excel is really easy for end-users to use. Quants tend to be real people who more or less know what they are doing.

    As to whether it’s good…..

  2. Stephane Rodriguez Says:

    Simon,

    You probably don’t mean Excel alone. I would be surprised that people using data every day don’t end up purchasing cubes and other BI pieces. Plenty of niches to address, with Excel remaining the “reporting client”.

  3. Simon Says:

    Stephane, yes 90% of everything I do has Excel in it somewhere, but I don’t spend 90% of my time in Excel/VBA. But when using other tools its with a view to reporting in Excel.

  4. Marcus Says:

    “control …target clients that do not have Excel installed”
    OWC?

    “Excel OM complexity(/power)”
    There seems to be a complete misunderstanding about the size, power and flexibility of the Excel OM, particularly by the developers/IT depts who view MSO development as Mickey Mouse.

    What is rare for me nowadays is to develop an Excel solution in isolation. Virtually every solution incorporates other technologies, most commonly a RDBMS, or other MSO apps. As much as possible, the crunching is done on a server and Excel simply becomes a convenient reporting tool.

    “completely polarised”
    I do occasionally come across Excel/VBA code written by a ‘real’ developer which usually highlights their misunderstanding of the Excel OM. If you spend 0-10% in any development environment, you’ll never have the level of proficiency of someone who spends 80-100% of their time in it.

    “most analysts… can’t use anything but Excel”
    I’d add a caveat to that. Most analyst are given access to any other development tools, so Excel/VBA is all they have without having to involve the IT dept (which they usually try to avoid at all costs).

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