5 Things You Need to Know about the Microsoft Data Explorer Preview for Excel

5 Things You Need to Know about the Microsoft Data Explorer Preview for Excel

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Data Explorer Preview for Excel represents a new way to discover, combine and refine data for your self-service BI needs. If you are new to Data Explorer, here are 5 key concepts to get you caught up on how Data Explorer can fundamentally improve the way you work with data in Excel. With Data Explorer you will:

1.  Discover the world’s data

Data Explorer brings the concept of data search to Microsoft Excel. Searching for public data using Data Explorer is easy and straightforward. You get rich and interactive previews of data. When you have found the data you need, a single click will import the data into your workbook.

Here’s an example of a search for “largest cities in Europe”.


2.  Connect to a wide range of data sources

Data Explorer supports a breadth of data sources, ranging from simple sources such as text, to more sophisticated sources like Hadoop.

File and text based sources supported include:

  • Text based sources (plain text, CSV)
  • XML
  • Excel files
  • Access databases
  • Folders (ability to treat a folder full of files as a single logical table)
  • Web sources supported include:
  • Tables on web pages
  • Web APIs / JSON
  • OData

Relational engines supported include:

  • SQL Server, Windows Azure SQL Database, SQL Server PDW
  • Oracle
  • Teradata
  • DB2
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL

Other sources supported include:

  • Windows Azure Marketplace
  • SharePoint Lists
  • Active Directory
  • Hadoop
  • Windows Azure HDInsight
  • Facebook

We are also working on a new set of data sources. If there are data sources you would like to see supported, please let us know.

3.  Combine data from multiple data sources

Data Explorer makes it easy to combine data from different data sources. The screen below shows the experience for joining data sourced from an OData feed (Products table) and a text file (Suppliers table)


4.  Reshape and transform your data effortlessly

Data Explorer makes it trivial to reshape and derive new value out of your data. Everything from simple operations such as filter and sort, to the more complex operations such as Unpivot are all done with just a few clicks.

The UI exposes the most useful transforms – but you can always use the Data Explorer Formula Language to harness the full power and expressivity of the Data Explorer.

Shown below is a screenshot of the menu of table transforms exposed in the UI. The formula bar that is shown above the table preview lets you invoke formulas and custom expressions should you need to drop down into the expression yourself.


5.  Refresh your data anytime

Data Explorer queries are simply expressions that the UI creates for you when you go through the steps to import and reshape data from a data source. What this means practically speaking is that your queries can be refreshed on demand. The query pane has a refresh link that you can click to update your workbook with the latest data.


Give Data Explorer a shot. We think you will like it. If you have any questions or feedback, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us via the Data Explorer Forum.

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  • Please add 3 and 1 and type the answer here:
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  • Great post! It would be nice to have more videos showing how easy it is to use.

  • I'm assuming this is Excel 2013 - but it doesn't say so, that I can see. Could you possibly identify which product the posts relate to? Thx

  • Can't read the first chart - too fuzzy when enlarged.

  • For documentation on Microsoft “Data Explorer” Preview for Excel, including tutorials and step-by-step instructions, go to office.microsoft.com/.../start-page-HA104003813.aspx .

  • In the Data Explorer on Azure, one of the features was to enable the data shapes to be published as OData.  

    What happened to that?  Is there a tool which will enable us to do it now?

  • I just want to say, I really like this post about the coming Data Explorer in SQL Server 2014, so I translated it into my local language:


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