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Excel Services does a good job of rendering Excel spreadsheets with a high degree of fidelity. In other words, what you see in Excel is what you will see in Excel Services. Excel, however, is incredibly feature rich, comprising features added over decades of development. By comparison, Excel Services is a young product, so naturally Excel Services doesn’t yet support all the things you might create in Excel. So what does Excel Services in SharePoint 2010 support? And how does Excel Services deal with files that contain features it doesn’t support? That is the topic of today’s blog post.
I am going to assume readers are aware of our feature support in Excel Services 2007. If you need a refresher, read our original blog topic on the matter. The following sections build on top of this topic.
Hopefully by now you’ve heard about some of the great features in Excel 2010 (If not, read through our posts here). By and large, most of the new features you’ll hear talked about for Excel 2010 will work in some way in Excel Services. Some features will display as they do in Excel. Others are also interactive.
In addition to this, I am happy to announce that embedded images, a long time feature of Excel, are now supported and can be viewed in Excel Services. Here’s an example of a report with an embedded image:
In Excel Services 2007, if a file contained an unsupported feature, Excel Services would not be able to open the file at all. This was a frustrating point for customers, as the unsupported feature was often something that the customer didn’t care about in the context of rendering in Excel Services. For example, a workbook may have a cell comment, which is unsupported, on Sheet3, but the workbook, when rendered via Excel Services, was only meant to show the chart on Sheet1. In this scenario, the only recourse for the customer was to remove the unsupported feature.
In the SharePoint 2010 release of Excel Services, a lot of work went into bringing support for new features as well the other investment areas that were discussed in the Excel Services overview post. With every release we narrow the functionality gap between Excel and Excel Services and reduce the number of unsupported features, but even in this new release, unsupported features still exist. To help users work with this limitation, Excel Services will simply “ignore” certain unsupported features. In other words, rather than blocking the entire file from loading, Excel Services will load the file just fine, you just won’t see the features that Excel Services doesn’t support.
So which features fall into this bucket? Here are the features that will not prevent Excel Services from loading a file:
A couple notes about the above list. These features continue to be unsupported, so that means they don’t render, execute, or work in any way like they do on the client. Most of the features in the above list will not render at all in Excel Services. For example, if there’s a shape near cell A1 when viewed in the client, you will see no shape at all when viewed on the server. Other features, like formula references and query tables, show you values that were last refreshed in the client. In other words, the values in the cells are still there, but you cannot update them in any way. Lastly, VBA code will not execute on the server.
One additional note about VBA. Excel Services 2007 didn’t support loading *.xlsm files at all because such files are meant to contain macros and files with macros would not load. Now that the SharePoint 2010 version of Excel Services knows how to ignore VBA macros, I am happy to say that also means *.xlsm files can now be loaded in Excel Services.
Viewing a File with Ignored Unsupported Features
You may be wondering, if Excel Services will load files and not render certain unsupported features, how do I know if the file I’m viewing is missing features? Excel Services will display a notification above the sheet that the file has missing features.
This is your first clue that the file is rendering different than Excel. If you’d like to learn more about which unsupported features Excel Services found in the file, click the “Details…” button.
What About Other Unsupported Features?
All other unsupported features will continue to behave as they do in Excel Services 2007. That is, Excel Services will block loading of the file if it detects the existence of one of these features.
This help topic for the 2007 release covers the detailed list (just ignore any mention of images, as I already mentioned those are now supported).
I hope that the changes we’ve made to how we handle unsupported features will alleviate many of the pain points our customers experience when rendering spreadsheet files with Excel Services. I would love to hear your feedback about the work we’ve done, as well as any thoughts you have on which unsupported features you’d like to see supported in a future release.
Are you guys really trying to patent sparklines? Seems like yet more microsoft IP theft (see CPM, Windows 1.0, OS2, Lotus). We keep hearing that you guys have turned the page, and you keep pulling stuff like this.
It's clear why google's marketing slogan, "Don't be evil" has such appeal.
Thanks for this post. Realistically though, since you have to support new Excel features in each new version of Excel Services, I don't see major older features, like VBA, ever being supported. Besides, anyone seriously using Excel Services today (and during the next 3 years) would be building solutions with other tools that can substitute for VBA, form controls, data validation etc.
One surprise omission is the lack of an Excel Services compatibility checker *within* Excel 2010. You provide an excellent compatibility checker when saving to older Excel versions, so why not Excel Services? Even Access 2010 provides a Web compatibility checker for publishing to Access Services. It's quite annoying to have to go through the trouble of publishing and then viewing the worksheet before you can know what features aren't compatible.
"Are you guys really trying to patent sparklines? Seems like yet more microsoft IP theft (see CPM, Windows 1.0, OS2, Lotus). We keep hearing that you guys have turned the page, and you keep pulling stuff like this."
I don't think that they are trying to patent sparklines - only expand on its meaning. Prior to Excel 2010, by definition a sparkline was a mini line chart - period. Now it referes to lines, columns, stacked columns and any new in-cell chart type that Excel might include in the future.
Actions support in pivottable ? And displaying of member properties in mouse over ?
excel does not allow me to insert an equation right after starting(option in disabled)
but the option gets enabled if I insert a picture or a textbox and stays enabled afterwards.
Also why isn't a close header and footer option available in excel? It's there in word, this is slightly inconsistent.
Colin: Thanks for the feedback. A compat checker is something I hope we can add in a future release.
Michael: Thanks for the feedback.
gawicks - I assume you are referring to the Excel client. The issue with the Equation option being disabled initially has been resolved in a later build. Previously you had to create a shape or textbox in which to insert the equation. That step is no longer necessary.
Are all these features going to be supported across browsers, or are they going to be proprietary to IE like some of the Office-centric features currently are in SP WSS 3.0?
Olivier: All of these features are available in all of our supported browsers.
If only it would be able to refresh SSAS data in a browser it would be great.
I had truble making it work on 2 different installations.