A year ago we announced that Excel Online and each of the applications that make up Office Online were destined to become a comprehensive productivity experience on more browsers and devices—not just companions to the desktop applications. Since then we’ve released several major updates and many minor updates, and today I’m sharing another significant step forward! (Note that these changes will roll-out worldwide over the course of the next few days.)
As I wrote in an earlier post, we have a prioritized list of features and functionalities based on customer feedback and market research. In this post we’ll take look at some of the awesome new things you can do in Excel Online, now in both OneDrive (previously SkyDrive) and Office 365, and we’ll also take a peek at some of what’s coming in future updates.
Of course, I recommend that you try the new Excel Online to get a sense for yourself for how great it is. And, if you’re interested in trying out the features highlighted in this post, you can download a copy of the demo spreadsheet here: April 2014 Excel Online Update Demo.xlsm. Click Download on the toolbar, and then upload it to your own OneDrive to see some of the features in action.
Office.com is the place to get going with Excel Online
We’ve heard for a while that it’s hard to find Excel Online (and all of Office Online). In the past, getting going meant navigating to OneDrive or Office 365, signing in, and then creating a file in the folder of your choice. Now, it’s much easier—just go to http://office.com and click the type of document you want to create.
Authoring (inserting, editing, and deleting) comments
Users of Excel Online have been able to see comments on cells for a while, but until now there has been no way to add new comments to a cell. With this release, we’ve added the ability to insert new comments as well as edit (and even delete) existing comments. Long-time Excel users may notice that the experience has been modernized—the text of a comment now shows in a task pane that contains all of the comments for the active sheet (making it easy to jump between cells with comments by simply clicking the comment in the task pane). We did this to align with the commenting model across the rest of Office Online, and so far we’ve gotten great feedback.
Editing files with VBA
Ever since we released the first version of Excel Online in 2007 (called Excel Services), we’ve gotten feedback about the lack of support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). While we haven’t added support for running VBA, we have now added support for editing files that contain VBA without removing (or corrupting) the VBA contained in the file. That means that if you have a file that you use in Excel Online sometimes and in desktop Excel other times, you can do that, taking advantage of the VBA in the desktop, and keeping it intact when you’re using it in a web browser.
Hiding and unhiding rows and columns
Previous releases of Excel Online have correctly displayed—by not displaying—hidden rows and columns, and there have been some “hacks” to hide and unhide those cells. With this release, we’ve added support for the most common way that users hide and unhide rows and columns, using a context menu that appears when you right-click a row or column header—just like in desktop Excel.
In-app feature search: Tell me what you want to do
A few months ago, the Word Online team posted about Tell Me, a feature that allows you to ask Word how to do something, and have the relevant commands presented in a simple drop-down list so you can perform your action right away. We’ve all had that moment when we know what we want to do, but don’t quite remember how to do it, wondering, ”How do I change the font?” or “How do I find the median of a set of numbers?” Now, when you type a few characters in Tell Me, Excel Online will tell you exactly how to do what you want to do.
Customizable Status Bar Aggregates
We released an update in November that brought Status Bar Aggregates to Excel Online. We got some great feedback (users loved the convenience of the feature) and with this update we rounded out the feature in two ways: by adding several more aggregates, Min, Max, and Numerical Count; and by making the set of aggregates visible in the status bar configurable—just like in desktop Excel.
Get anywhere in your spreadsheet fast with GoTo
As Excel Online becomes more and more feature-rich, the spreadsheets being created are more and more similar to spreadsheets created with desktop Excel. That means larger, more complex spreadsheets and a greater need to quickly navigate around your masterpiece. Enter GoTo (Ctrl+G), a “pro” feature that allows you to quickly type in a reference and jump to that location in the spreadsheet.
We’re still working on more of what you want
I hope you’ll agree that the improvements we’ve looked at so far are great ones for Excel Online. But we’re not done—not by a long shot. We have much more in the pipeline, and in the coming months we’ll be releasing even more of the features that you’ve come to love in desktop Excel, as well as some you may not have even realized existed! Log in and give the updated Excel Online a try. We think you’ll like it.
Remember to grab the sample workbook (Download and then save it to your OneDrive) to try out the features highlighted here. And, as always, we love to hear what you think, so let us know in the comments section, and have fun using the new release of Excel Online!