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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Hosting Excel on web page

    I have a lot of Excel applications I've written (they all have VBA code behind them hence I call them 'applications') and I've been asked by my managers to see what it d take to offer these same tools online.We need to limit the risk of a competitor getting a hold of one of these tools (since we all know Excel is far from being secure no matter what you do).

    I've tried w/o success to run these Excel apps under IE (or other browsers) and find that they do not run well at all. A plain Excel file runs fine (with just formulas) but once I have code in it that hides/shows sheets, pops up menus, dynamically updates sheets, charts, etc., it no longer works. <img src=/S/cranky.gif border=0 alt=cranky width=18 height=25>

    I don't know of a way to prevent someone from downloading an Excel file in a link, do you?

    Ideally I'm trying to avoid re-writing all my apps in Perl and utilize some web tool or web environment to allow the user to interact with the Excel file just as if it was on their desktop.

    What about MS Sharepoint or web components? I haven't used any of these.

    Deb

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    Re: Hosting Excel on web page

    I've never heard of anyone being able to post Excel on a webpage and expecting the user to open Excel in the browser and have the VBA stuff work trouble-free. I suppose that is possible on some systems but definately not for any and all.

    Excel can be used to provide a data source for, say, an ASP-driven page; you can learn how to do that in a variety of places on the net.

    Basically you'll have to get into some kind of webservices programming (ASP, ASP.NET, Perl, etc.) and re-do whatever functionalities Excel is providing, but you may have to do without some neat things Excel does. You could, perhaps, do a lot of things in Flash...

    One thing you can do is just make the tools available for download and do what you can to keep the 'competition' from getting them. Password-protect the VBA modules, place the tools in a password-protected folder on the webserver, etc. In any case, if you provide an excel file directly to a link most systems will prompt to download it, not try to display it in a browser. Some systems may indeed open the file directly in the browser but that's just for some people. Zipping the excel files will cause just about any system (I'd say all but who knows what someone might be using on the net?) -- anyhow, almost all user will be prompted to download, which has the advantage of consistent behavior. Also, if the file is downloaded rather than run as an embedded excel file in IE you should be more consistency in the VBA code behind the apps.

    Well, these are all just suggestions, comments and observations. hope this helps a little to clarify the issues involved.

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: Hosting Excel on web page

    Thanks for the reply. Actually Excel with VBA works fairly well when run from a browser. It depends on what your VBA does of course that might make it fail. The parts that don't work are where the code tries to unhide a sheet or unhide rows/cols, etc. The buttons and pop-up forms work just fine. I have about 10 actively used Excel programs that I need to convert to web-based hence my questions to The Lounge about my options.

    Right now I already make the .xls files available for download from my company's internal web site; that's how they get used but I now need to figure out how to re-implement them as web-based to ensure better data protection. This is important since some of these tools are meant for our customers to use, not just our internal sales force.

    Windows servers are few and far between and the IT department isn't likely to let me do something one-off from the rest of corporate world. I have been playing with Office 2000 Developer's kit to build a XLL file (a DLL for Excel) that would let me best protect my code and data. That way I would then create a setup.exe file that contains my .xls and .xll and that's what the user downloads. This setup file then installs the.xll and the .xls uses the code in that file just like it used the embedded VBA. It's something new for me so I'm still working out the details.

    Unfortuantely it still looks like this won't be accepted as they really want web-based everything so I'll have to re-write it all in Perl and lose most of Excel cool features. Oh, well, at least I still get paid to do what I like to do (programming) <img src=/S/clapping.gif border=0 alt=clapping width=19 height=23>

    Deb

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    Re: Hosting Excel on web page

    If you know perl that should work fine, but i've had very good experiences using ASP (and am starting to look at ASP.NET) -- it's some cool stuff. I encourage you to at least look at an new MS tool for ASP.NET, ASP WebMatrix, which is totally free and seems to work really well: http://www.asp.net/WebMatrix

    I think once you get going using a technology for doing things complete weberly you'll find things that work as well or better than some Excel VBA widgets.

    Well, good luck in your programming!

  5. #5
    5 Star Lounger jujuraf's Avatar
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    Re: Hosting Excel on web page

    I definitely agree with you but I am constrained by what my company's IT rules are and with few exceptions, they do not support any MS stuff for web development (server side, that is). This is why I will probably have to stick with Perl on Unix. I'll know more after my Monday meeting with the IT folks but from all I've been told so far, there's nothing I can do about it if I want to offer these Excel tools (in a web format) on a supported server (not one located in my cube that only my team uses). I do understand their concerns in having a small uniform set of tools to support and not allowing everyone to do their own thing.

    I have played with .Net and it does make a lot things easier since a lot of the GUI stuff is built-in. I know this transition from Excel to web-based tools would be 100x easier if I was allowed to use MS products for web development so I'll wait and see if I can convince them to let me do this. <img src=/S/crossfingers.gif border=0 alt=crossfingers width=17 height=16>

    There are also other (not .Net) options such as Office web components and 3rd party tools that would work too but those again require a MS web server.

    Thnx, Deb

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