Field List and Field Well in the Excel Web App

Since we delivered Office in the browser — slightly over 4 years ago — we have targeted a progressive release schedule meant to deliver features that narrow the gap between desktop and web versions of Excel. For a long time, you could do things with the Excel desktop application that were inconceivable when it came to Excel in the browser. In fact, about the only thing you could do with Excel in the browser was to view data and do some basic editing. Don’t get me wrong, editing workbooks in the browser, regardless of how basic, is incredibly cool, but not compared to what we’ve brought to the Excel Web App in the new Office.

We want users to have a great experience with Excel and to see its rich feature set, even if users don’t own the desktop application. Of course there will always be some things that are only possible to create with the desktop application, but for many users (and even for some power users), the browser version will let them accomplish most tasks. With every passing month, we added stuff to the browser version that allows customers to analyze and work with data, not just to edit it. So, with that, let me introduce you to the Field List and Field Well . . . in the browser.

Enabling the Field List and Field Well

When you open a workbook with a PivotTable or a PivotChart in the browser, and click on a cell, you will see the field list, just like you do in the desktop application.

And from there, you can add dimensions, measures, and filters without leaving the relative comfort of Excel. And, yes, there is a certain amount of comfort in Excel because you know the tool so well. Now we give you one more reason to use it: BI analytics in the browser. Actually, there’s another reason — if you still (try to) use the currently deprecated Office Web Components (OWC), start using the Excel Office Web App. You’ll like it infinitely more than the OWC. I promise.

But this isn’t the only place where we expose the field list. You can also access it from the new named object view. If I publish only the PivotTable, I can work with that table using the field list:

The same thing applies to charts too — actually the feature applies to any published OLAP-based object. If you click on the chart within the browser, the field list displays. And once there, you can begin working with the data until you find something interesting (for example, it seems curious that the highest paid player in Major League Baseball essentially plays pitch and catch with, effectively, the lowest paid player on the field).

Disabling the Field List and Field Well

There are times where you simply don’t want to see the field list appear, even if you do click on a PivotTable. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first way is to simply turn it off in the Excel desktop ribbon. When you do that, you will not see the field list show up when opening the document in the browser.


However, if you use Excel Services in a SharePoint web part, chances are pretty great that you don’t want the field list popping out into the relatively small web part frame. You can see from the following screen shot that the experience just isn’t very good.

So, in SharePoint 2013, we wired the field list to the “PivotTable & PivotChart Modification” web part property. You can use this property to suppress the field list within the web part. But even if that wasn’t a concern, you may not want to invite users to modify a chart or table using the field list. So suppressing it through the web part property framework was something else we added.

Even if you aren’t working in the web part, you can set a persistent property on the in-memory workbook that will suppress the field list even if a user clicks on a cell in the PivotTable or PivotChart. You can do that by right-clicking on a cell in the workbook and choosing either to hide or to show the field list:

Needless to say, we are really proud of this feature and hope that you will use and enjoy it as well. Here is a link to the workbook used in the sample screen shots in this blog article. Feel free to open it and get a feel for how the feature works.

Kevin Donovan
Program Manager, Office BI