An overview of Excel Services

Excel Services, deployed on a server running SharePoint Services with the Office Web App installed, extends Microsoft Excel to those in your organization who don’t have the Excel desktop program available on their computers. It also provides you with a multitude of options for presenting and even working with Excel data in a web browser.

In this article


Understanding the value of Excel Services

Much more than just a file viewer, the power of Excel Services is maximized as the Excel Web App, which you can use not only to view but also to interact with data. For example, you can apply filtering and sorting on lists, and apply slicers on PivotTable data. In “Edit in browser” mode, you can even change and add values, create formulas, worksheet functions, and more. You can do all this in a workbook that’s saved on a SharePoint Services site that has Office Web Apps deployed. Deploying Excel Services in your organization can reduce the number of Excel or Office desktop client licenses needed and can also lower the administrative burden on your IT department.

When you save a workbook from the Excel desktop program to a SharePoint document library, the entire contents of the workbook are saved to that location. The ability to work with Excel Web App is not limited to Microsoft Internet Explorer – Mozilla Firefox and Safari are also supported web browsers.

Although the editing experience in a web browser isn’t quite as rich as the Excel desktop program, it is still quite similar. As a bonus, simultaneous editing of a workbook by multiple users is possible in edit mode in the browser, a feature that isn’t available in the Excel desktop program. In addition to editing in the browser, those with adequate SharePoint permissions can also open the workbook in the Excel desktop program if it is installed on their computer and utilize all of Excel’s features.

Another advantage of publishing a workbook to a SharePoint site is the ability to publish only the elements of a workbook that you want to a page. For example, you can publish only a specific worksheet, a limited range of cells on a worksheet, a chart, an Excel table, a PivotTable or PivotChart, or any combination of those items. By controlling access to the workbook with SharePoint permissions, you can then limit what users see to what you've explicitly published to that page.

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One Version of the Truth - Data Integrity, and Secure, Accurate Information Sharing

By saving your workbook to a centralized location and taking advantage of SharePoint permissions and the simultaneous editing capability of Excel Web Access, you can eliminate the inefficient loop of emailing workbooks back and forth in an organization for data gathering and review, which leads to out-of-sync versions of workbooks.

Working with only a single copy of a file that's stored in one place is commonly referred to as "one version of the truth." Adding the ability to control access to your workbook with SharePoint permissions and collaborating on it in the web browser makes the experience that much better.

By connecting a workbook to web parts on various site pages, you can present the same information in multiple places for different audiences. In short, you do this by creating an Excel Web Access web part on each page where you want the data to appear. You then connect the workbook that contains your information to each web part separately, specify the item that you want to appear, and change some key settings to best present your information in a secure yet visually appealing way.

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Applies to:
Excel 2010, SharePoint Server 2010