Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Taking it to the Cloud: Sharing and Collaborating on the Internet
C H A P T E R 10
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Taking it to the Cloud: Sharing
and Collaborating on the Internet
Note: As Beginning Excel 2010 goes to press, Excel’s Web App 2010, an Internet-based means for empowering
multiple users to access and edit the same workbook simultaneously, remains a work in progress. What follows is
a report of how the Web App works—as I’ve experienced it. But results, as they say, may vary—and the nature of
Web apps is that they are much more frequently updated and modified than traditional desktop applications, so the
Excel Web App may undergo changes between the time I’m writing this information, and the time you read it.
In the old days—I think it was around 2000—I was assigned to a help desk post at an actuarial firm in
New York. One afternoon a fellow from the San Francisco office called me with a spreadsheet question
and proceeded to attach the workbook to an e-mail, in order to afford me a closer look at the data. After
giving the question due consideration, I e-mailed the workbook back with my recommendations.
Not a terribly compelling tale by today’s expectations, is it? But the idea that one can toss a
spreadsheet back and forth across a 2,500-mile long backyard is remarkable enough, even if we’re no
longer impressed by the techo-magic that makes that transcontinental game of catch possible. But
wouldn’t it be even better if the help desk guy could actually see the workbook onscreen at the same
time as the guy posing the question, and if the two could make changes to the workbook then and there,
and immediately see the results on the screen? That is, wouldn’t the exchange of information be better
served by hoisting it into the cloud—that is, that vast Internet-based, data-hoarding place in the sky—
and making it available to anyone down here on the ground?
I think the answer to that question is yes; and something like that scenario is coming to a screen
near you— now —in the form of Microsoft Excel’s Web App 2010, a new Office 2010 free Internet-based
way to access a version of Excel on your browser, which lets you grant access to your workbooks to
others and enable them to collaborate with you in real time (more or less). All you need is a Windows
Live ID (if you’re a Hotmail subscriber, for example, you already have one, and you can get an ID with
an e-mail address from any provider), Excel 2003 or later, and access to the Web. Get past that minor
bureaucratic chore and you can upload your workbooks to the cloud, and make them available to
anyone else at your discretion.
Of cour se , ma n y wor k pl a ce s already share their workbooks through Excel’s Share Workbook
feature. That option lets employees work collectively and simultaneously on workbooks—but that
access is naturally confined to that organization. With Web App 2010, on the other hand, the whole
world can be signed into your network (it is called the Internet, when you think about it) and grab a
seat on your cloud.