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Today's post was written by Angela Chu-Hatoun, a senior programmer writer on our big Office team who's, frankly, much more technical than I am and is good at exploring the deep underbelly of programming, how it works, and how YOU can do it too.
This post originally appeared last Friday, May 13, on the MSDN Office Client Developer Content blog (friendly name: Dev Docs) and I just HAD to ask Angela if I could post it here, too. I figure it's a good tandem piece to my September 2010 post What is a macro and why you should care.
For Wednesday's post, I offered up five useful features that I feel you should know about and use. Today I want to continue that list but I want to dig a little deeper into a few programs to uncover some features that, while useful and neat-o, may be underutilized (by you, by me, by the public at large).
So let's get crackin' and expose some of these things so that we can start using them...pronto!
Update: See near the end of this post for the latest Office how-tos on embedding Excel and PowerPoint files.
My name is Larry Waldman and I'm a program manager on the Excel team. This week the Crabby Office Lady was nice enough to let me combine a couple of Office's cool features to highlight one of my favorite little tricks. (Note that this post and these features refer to the Office Web Apps.)
First we've got a feature called "Excel embedding" that lets you put Excel files—yes, interactive Excel files—into your web pages by using Office Web Apps and SkyDrive. You may have seen Crabby's earlier posts about embedding Excel (or PowerPoint) files into web pages and making sure they ARE interactive. Doug Thomas also did an Office Casual video about the free Office Web Apps and SkyDrive accounts.
Also, I've long been a fan of the file templates we have in Office—that's right, Office.com Templates that you see when you click the File tab and click New in Office 2007 or 2010. For me, things really come alive when you start with a fully functional (and premade) Excel template, tweak it as you need, and then plop it on your site. An example (and I got my example below straight from the Office.com Templates site) is worth a thousand words...
Today's final "jargon demystified" post is going to cover the basics of OneNote, that über popular and oh-so-useful (not to mention favorite) Office program for note taking. We're going to define the three most basic of OneNote features today, the ones that seem to be confusing to some of you: notebooks, sections, and pages.
If you read last week's two posts about fonts—Fonts I: The families and their styles and Traveling and tails: Best practices—you should be pretty up-to-speed about 1) some font terminology (families, styles, tails); 2) how to travel successfully with fonts (a BIG issue among my readers, apparently); and 3) what you have to consider with your audience and the tone to project when choosing a font for your email, presentation, document—whatever. You wouldn't wear your sweaty workout clothes to work, would you? (Oh wait; I've seen that on the Microsoft campus WAY too often. An unspoken "no dress code" is often abused, in my crabby esteem. But never mind; let's plough/plow ahead.)
And now it's all led up to this:
1. GET more fonts!2. Make your own fonts!
I like notes; I take a lot of them and got into a lot of trouble passing them, as an overly chatty schoolgirl. Today I find notes here, there, on sticky pads, on my kid's homework, even on my own hand sometimes. But on my computer or my phones I only use OneNote and truthfully, all the other methods of keeping notes are starting to go by the wayside. I mean, I can jot down a note in OneNote Mobile on my iPhone, sync it with my SkyDrive, and then download it to my computer. I can also do this in the opposite direction: Type it up on OneNote on my computer, upload it to my SkyDrive, get it on my iPhone (or Windows 7 phone). Or...create a note or add to existing notes from within my SkyDrive, send them to the phone...etc.
As a matter of fact, I just now copied a recipe I found online into OneNote on my computer, it popped up on my SkyDrive...and *bing!* it's on my iPhone and ready to be taken into the kitchen at dinner time (Risotto Milanese).
Security is a pretty loaded word. When I was a kid, it meant my blankie—period. Now it's something totally different; it could have to do with money, relationships, my job, and my computer. I just asked my 8-year-old and she gave me a one word answer, "Safe."
"Safe." We all want to feel it, and we want others we love to feel it too. As you can imagine, safety and security are at the forefront of priorities when talking about computers. In one way or another, computing has become so widespread that whether or not you have a computer, have access to one, or have even used one, you are impacted daily by computers. A few examples: Your bank, the stores you shop at, street lights, and utilities all use computers to keep them going.
(As an aside, just this week, Intel, the chip maker ["chips" being, essentially, the tiny little engines that make computers run] is buying one of the leading security software maker companies, McAfee. I personally think this is an exciting prospect. Soon our hardware—not just the software we've chosen to install on our computers—will be the one dealing with the more and more sophisticated threats coming our way.)
But okay! Let's lighten up! Security in computers can also mean just securing a document, a spreadsheet, a Visio drawing, a presentation. You've made one and you don't want anyone changing it. Is that so wrong? No it isn't, and this week's "Dear Crabby" letter comes from someone who is thinking about just that.
You like your (or your mom's, or kid's, or student's) phone that uses touch technology, right? Remember how exciting and different it was when it first came out? Well, have you ever seen it on a table top, like maybe at design store? How would you like to interact with a wall-sized version?
TouchWall is an Office Labs experiment that explores alternative ways to interact with information on a vertical canvas. Office Labs is working with Microsoft Research to explore the uses of this sort of technology for collaboration and presentation scenarios. It's pretty cool, really, using laser technology reflecting off the user's fingers, and you can make virtually any surface—be it a whiteboard, a wall, or a table—have multi-touch capabilities.
(And here you thought that technology couldn't be touchy feely...)
Last Thursday, my colleague, Holly, wrote about some of the new and updated features coming with Office for Mac 2011: Excel Sparklines, PivotTables, photo editing, and some other stuff.
Today I want to focus to sparklines (for the PC; I'll address this for the Mac when it's all ready for the prom).
First of all, I like the name; you don't really hear of developers giving groovy, trendy, fabulous monikers to software features—particularly for data-related, spreadsheet features. And secondly, sparklines are such a great idea when you're someone who plays show-and-tell with important data...
PowerPoint 2007 enables you to embed only the specific characters actually used in the presentation, (which is baggage you packed yourself).
See, when you embed a font into your presentation, the file size grows by as much as the font file (which is usually a lot — some of the new Unicode fonts are monsters). This means you are carrying umlauts and italics you don't use.
Read the full post to find out how to do this; embedding just the characters you used will cut down on the size by quite a bit.