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Today Eric Patterson returns with a few more guest posts on Compatibility.
Thus far the discussion about compatibility has been focused on how new features in Excel 2007 are handled when saving files to previous versions or when working in Compatibility Mode. The flip side of the discussion is the list of features that are being deprecated for Excel 2007. That will be the topic for today’s post.
Why Remove Anything?
Before jumping to the list of which features are being deprecated or removed, let me say that we never make decisions lightly about removing functionality that has been in the product. We rarely remove functionality and strive for backwards compatibility with every version. When we do make changes to functionality that has been in the product we do so when we believe it will be a benefit to the majority of our customers by helping us to make forward progress.
Natural Language Formulas
This feature allowed people to use the labels of columns and rows on worksheets to refer to the cells adjacent to those cells without explicitly defining them as names. This feature has been disabled by default since Excel 2000 based on customer feedback. In Excel 12 we will completely remove this seldom-used feature from the product. When opening files in Excel 2007 that use this feature, formulas will be converted to use cell references.
Note: This feature could be found in the Excel 11 options dialog with the title “Accept labels in formulas”
Insert Name Label
This command allowed people to more explicitly specify labels for Natural Language Formulas and is being removed as part of that feature.
Data Retrieval Services
In Office 2003, we introduced a new type of external data connection known as Data Retrieval Services. Data Retrieval Services is a web service protocol for querying different data sources, and was originally intended as a new standard for getting data into Office applications. Moving forward, however, we will no longer be investing in Data Retrieval Services. The customer demand for something like this was much smaller than originally anticipated.
File Format Support
Historically Excel has supported many different data formats. We have determined that a number of these older formats are seldom, if ever used. We are removing support for some file types to allow us to devote more of our efforts towards the file formats that are being used. Theses formats are being deprecated in 2 ways. For the set of file formats with the lowest usage, we will be discontinuing support for opening and saving of these formats. For the second set that has some minimal usage, we will support loading the files in Excel 2007 to allow you to save them in a newer format.
The following formats cannot be opened or saved in Excel 2007:
The following formats may be opened, but not saved to in Excel 2007:
HTML File Format
Excel 2007 will no longer store “Excel only” feature information in our HTML file formats. Based on very limited usage as a primary file format, we will not save Excel specific tags that retain Excel functionality when re-opened.
We have found that Excel’s “Save as HTML” feature is used as a publishing format and we will continue to support it as a way to create a document to be viewed in a web browser. Excel will still open HTML files and any Excel specific features contained in the file that was created in a previous version will be preserved. Such files should be saved in one of the new file formats as a primary version of the document and published to HTML when desired.
HTML Save with Interactivity
Previous versions of Excel allowed for publishing of Excel files to HTML with interactivity using the Microsoft Office Web Components. With the introduction of Excel Services, our ongoing investments in creating interactive spreadsheets in a web browser will be focused on Excel Services. As part of this focus we will be removing support for saving HTML files with interactivity using the Office Web Components.
Integration with Microsoft Script Editor
As part of our decision to move away from supporting HTML as a full-fidelity file format, integration with Microsoft Script Editor (MSE) has been removed from Excel, Word and Powerpoint in Office 2007.
In Excel, this means the following:
What are we doing with Script Tags:
List Insert Row
The List feature in Excel 2003 has a special row at the bottom that is used for adding new records to the list. In Excel 2007, the insert row has been removed based on feedback that we have heard from customers. Lists (now Tables) have been improved, making it easy to add data by using the Tab key in the last row of the Table or by typing or pasting data directly below the Table.
Writeback to SharePoint
Excel 2003 added the ability to connect to (read) and update (write) to lists that reside on SharePoint sites. Moving forward we are focusing our efforts on Access as the best way for writing data to lists on SharePoint and taking SharePoint lists offline.
For Excel we are deprecating the update behavior in the following ways:
OLAP Cube Wizard
In Previous versions of Excel, the OLAP Cube Wizard would allow you to create OLAP Cube files from relational data sources. This feature allowed for adding hierarchical data organization to relation data for viewing relational data in PivotTables and storage of the data in a separate file. The OLAP Cube Wizard has been removed from Excel 2007 based on the limited use of the feature. PivotTables based on relational data may still be created using the more common methods of directly connecting to the relational data or importing into an Excel sheet.
Support for Pattern Fills
Pattern fills for shape objects has been deprecated in favor of Picture and Texture fills. Existing files will appear the same when loaded. The ability to create new shapes with the previous pattern fills has been deprecated as part of the new drawing capabilities.
Alternate Navigation Keys in Excel 4 files
Excel 4 files had the ability to store a setting that enabled Alternate Navigation Keys when the files were opened in previous versions of Excel. We are not carrying that setting forward with the new file formats. Opening files with this setting will not enable Alternate Navigation Keys. You may still enable Alternate Navigation Keys using the Excel settings for an individual user.
The ability to add and play sound notes in cells was removed several versions ago, but the sound was still persisted in the file format. We will now remove the sound note when opening such a file in Excel 2007.
PS Updated "opened but not saved list" to correct typo.
Thanks for the info. This is useful to know.
You say the following formats can't be opened or saved in Excel 2007...
DBF 2 (dBASE II)
WQ1 (Quattro Pro/DOS)
Microsoft Excel Chart (.xlc)
Then in the next section, you list them again as being able TO OPEN but not save.
Which is correct?
This is the correct list of files that can be opened, but not saved:
Microsoft Excel 2.1 Worksheet
Microsoft Excel 2.1 Macro
Microsoft Excel 3.0 Worksheet
Microsoft Excel 3.0 Macro
Microsoft Excel 4.0 Worksheet
Microsoft Excel 4.0 Macro
Microsoft Excel 97- Excel 2003 & 5.0/95 Workbook
Microsoft Excel 4.0 Workbook
DBF 3 (dBASE III)
DBF 4 (dBASE IV)
The second list should not have also included the entries from the first list.
Thanks for the heads up! A couple of these will be causing some excitement over here.
Note - I updated the blog to provide the correct list. A User, which items in particular do you think will "cause excitement"?
Am I missing something or can you only save to the 2007 format? Can I create a new workbook in 2007 and save it in a format someone with 2003 can open?
Really disappointed that you are removing patterns; I use them frequently to ensure documents I produce can be printed in black and white as well as colour. In particular, I use this for producing resource allocation spreadsheets where the conditional formatting is used intensively.
Why bin patterns? The textures you have have always been useless junk. Pictures are good, though. Sod's law says I'll have to make the patterns myself. Cross shading was especially useful, and the intermittent dot patterns were essential for older colour printers to distinguish shades and for B&Ws that couldn't tell light grey from yellow without the shading.
I can't control the printer quality because work provides the printers. Can you give me patterns back? Please, please, please?
[please email me a reply personally if you get a chance, this matters to me lots.]
"pattern fills has been deprecated as part of the new drawing capabilities"
This is bad news. We use the patterns regularly here, and textures and pictures can not provide the same functionality. I join Edward in pleading to give them back.
And what exactly are these "new drawing capabilities" ? I don't recall them being discussed on this blog.
It seems to me there is a ton more features getting canned. At least in the UI, I have not taken the time to verify in the .xslx file itself. Perhaps that's because it's a beta2 codebase, I am not sure.
Charts : the ability to interactively move the 3D chart with the mouse ; some chart axis formatting options seem to have been streamlined ; ...
Patterns still work in cells (though not in OfficeArt) in Beta 2. Is it just the OfficeArt that is losing pattern capabilities?
The Powerpoint - OfficeArt blog talks about the new drawing capabilities
All good decisions, save the removal of patterns. Home users and printing shops may have color printers, but most offices continue to use black and white.
Color fills often turn to varying, and bands and dithers when printed monochrome. Likewise, image fills often lose definition and print too dark. The result are indistinguishable shades of gray and a useless chart.
Admittedly, the patterns are somewhat dated. Why not update them, adding new ones? More elaborate, distinctive patterns (such as paisley or floral) could be created if the dimensions of the grid they use is increased.
Check out this site:
Excel could use similar patterns. Most use no more than 3 or 4 colors, which could be linked to Excel's theme colors (so when you change the theme, the pattern would update to match.) When printed in black and white, many (including all 2-color patterns) of these patterns would elegantly "flatten" down to monochrome.
John S. - We only removed a few, seldom used file formats as shown by our instrumentation. You can still save to many file formats, such as the Excel 97-2003 format. See the post on "All About File Formats" for more information.
Edward, Vic, Francis - Thanks for the feedback on Patterns. We are hoping to provide pictures of the patterns that we had previously such that you can get similar results using texture fills.
A - Cells do still support patterns. Only pattern fills for shapes are affected.
Stephane - There are some additional deprecated features in the area of Charting which I will pull together for another post.
Oops, should have read "Various colors all turn to gray, and band and dither...."
David - Thanks for asking about the excitement, it's more like mild stimulation.
- Writeback to SharePoint -
A few things here were recently implemented this way just because it is really, really simple and, of course, it was very lightweight stuff.
(Names withheld to protect the innocent. I expect to be asked to help people move their stuff to Access, or build a Rube Goldberg with Access in between, but I will decline. I consider Access an awkward product that is neither easy enough for lightweight users nor robust enough for heavy lifting, but that is a story for another day....)
- Formats That Cannot Be Opened -
A surprising amount of Lotus 1-2-3 r5 archive is still used here as "point of reference" on a read only basis. (Mostly: long term pro forma models.) I expect a rather boring campaign to convert working reference copies of the archive, which will make them a whole lot easier to use anyway.
(Names withheld to protect the guilty. People resisted converting them out of concern for purity of the archive. I suspect the only reason was to justify keeping originals on line by saying "I still use this.")