I am sure there are very few of us here naive enough to assume tinkering with Excel services would be a 10 minute job. But just in case, I’m here to tell you that was not the case for me!!
This post will document my battles to try out this technology.
Hopefully we are all aware that Excel services is a newish feature of Sharepoint 2007. Bear in mind its only in the Enterprise version of Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 (catchy eh?). That would be your first check then – what version of MOSS2007 can you get access to?
Before that though you may want to consider how/where this MOSS2007 will be.
Here is my plan:
On a virtual machine on a USB drive. Yep I know the performance will be poor. Maybe I can delete a few Gb of junk off my laptop and squeeze it on there. But experience tells me messing with virtual images when disc space is tight is bad news.
So the first thing is that Virtual pc is not up to the job. You need virtual server. Thanks to rather aggressive competition in that area, those nice Microsoftians give this product away. I won’t link to where it was because it won’t be there by the time this get published, probably.
Anyway I bought myself a new USB drive (WD Passport – bus powered, handy). It came formatted as FAT32 – great for interoperability, crap for files larger than 2Gb. I tried to repartition to leave some FAT32 and make most of it NTFS. Partition Manager was not prepared to do that for me, Ghost crashed (as usual). So in the end I just reformatted the whole thing to NTFS – this took over an hour!
I should have checked what Ubuntu could have done – next time…
MS do a trial version of MOSS as a virtual image on Windows Server 2003. This was my target, this is six 700 Mb downloads. But it saves any install hassles. It’s time limited for 30 days and includes Office 2007. You can just recycle the virtual image after 30 days. This seems fair enough to me, although its easy enough to find 60/90/180 day trial versions of many of Microsofts products.
The first version I found had a hard expiry date of October 2008 not a right lot of use – did they really think they would have 100% uptake by then, with no more need for demos??
It’s bloody hard to work through Microsofts maze of shitty names – there are only a couple of differentiating characters in each 90 character name.
Anway I found this one. Which works.
March update – of course a few images have expired, and been reinstalled.
Anyway on getting VS up (needed me to reset my default web site in IIS) you need to create a new site – choose the document library one.
Setting up Sharepoint is pretty obvious, once you get used to the limitations of a brwser interface for an app that patently need a proper UI.
Once you have a document library you can open Excel 2007 and publish docs to it. You can then browse to them.
In Excel you can set up range names as usual, but when saving to SP you set them as parameters. You can then modify these values in the browser version later and see the impact.
I’ve only just dipped my toe in the water, I hope to do more before this current image expires. In particular I want to find a compelling use case, I’m sure the technology has value, I just havent worked out where I can apply it in the stuff that I do yet.
Anyone else working with ES? In what circumstances?