New features for developers in Excel 2013 Preview

Frank Rice, Senior Programming Writer, Office Developer Documentation team, authored today's post.

This post briefly describes some of the features available to developers in Excel 2013 Preview. 

Apps for Office

Of course, the big news for developers and users are apps for Office in Excel that brings the web to Excel. Because this feature is web-based, you can use popular dynamic languages (such as Python, PHP, Perl, and JavaScript) and web development tools (such as Microsoft Visual Studio 2012) for application development. You can create two kinds of apps for Office in Excel, Content apps and Task pane apps. Content apps for Office integrate web-based features as content that can be shown in line with the document. Task pane apps for Office work side-by-side with an Office document. For a great example of an app for Office in Excel 2013, see the the Medal Tracker Template.

You have probably already seen a lot of information about apps for Office and will definitely see much more in the future, so the rest of this post will focus on some of the other Excel 2013 features. For information about apps for Office 2013, see Apps for Office and SharePoint in the MSDN online library. Additionally, you can follow the Apps for Office and SharePoint developer blog to keep up on the latest information around apps for Office and SharePoint.

New worksheet features

Excel 2013 Preview adds about fifty new worksheet functions for compatibility with the Open Document Format (ODF 1.2). For more information about ODF, see http://opendocumentformat.org/. You can also now use web service functions to anonymously access REST Web services. Of special note is the FILTERXML function, which lets you use XPath expressions to filter the XML returned by a WEBSERVICE function call.

Quick Analysis

Quick Analysis, as shown in Figure 1, is a contextual UI tool that enables single-click access to data-analysis features, such as formulas, conditional formatting, Sparklines, tables, charts, and PivotTables. You can enable and disable the display of the new Quick Analysis feature in Excel 2013 Preview programmatically by using the Show and Hide methods of the QuickAnalysis object.

Figure 1. Quick Analysis tool

New data sources

You can connect to many new data sources supported by PowerPivot, including OData feeds, Azure, SharePoint Data Feeds, and other OLE DB providers. The new DataFeedConnection, ModelConnection, TextConnection, and WorksheetDataConnection objects contain data and functionality needed to connect to new data sources.

DataModel object model

A new DataModel object model (an addition to the existing VBA object model) enables you to load and refresh data sources programmatically. This extension to the PowerPivot model introduced in Excel 2010 enables you to integrate additional data sources and the ability to combine data from multiple data sources programmatically.

Create independent PivotTables and PivotCharts

You can decouple PivotCharts from PivotTables in Excel 2013 Preview. PivotCharts and PivotTables based on an OLAP or PowerPivot data source can be decoupled such that you can create a PivotChart independently of any PivotTable and you can navigate through data by using a PivotChart-only experience.

Single document interface

Excel 2013 Preview uses a single-document interface (SDI). SDI means that each workbook will have its own top-level app window and will have its own corresponding ribbon. All existing application-level window methods, events, and properties are unaffected by this change. All existing workbook-level window methods, events, and properties now operate on the top-level window for that workbook. And the list goes on...

Conclusion 

I encourage you to download Excel 2013 Preview and experiment with these and more features for developers not discussed here. You can get Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus Preview which includes Excel as well as Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other products at the MSDN Evaluation Center.

Additional resources

You can find much more information about many of the features for Excel developers in the article titled What's new for Excel 2013 developers. Additionally, you can find information about the developers features available in other Office products in the article titled What's new for Office 2013 developers.