Deploying Excel to Web Applications
Organizations across all industries, regardless of company size, all have one thing in common: a love-hate relationship with Excel spreadsheets. Excel is loved for its flexibility and “agility” – the ease of making changes quickly – and the fact that most folks are already familiar with it. But when spreadsheets are widely shared, the “hate” part of the relationship begins to appear, stemming from familiar issues such as lack of version control, difficulty protecting IP and proprietary information, inability to conduct analytics across many separate files and constrained access within an increasingly mobile (and generally disparate IT infrastructure) environment.
Many companies find themselves considering expensive, time-consuming and often risky efforts to replace their spreadsheets with completely custom developed software or specific purpose software that requires immense customization work and a completely new learning curve.
EASA has been developed to specifically enable companies to continue to utilize their existing spreadsheets (and workflows involving spreadsheets), while simultaneously eliminating the various typical Excel problems (the “hate” part of the relationship) mentioned earlier.
EASA does this with an Excel to web capability that is far more elegant than traditional web-enabling systems for spreadsheets. These systems typically rely on converting spreadsheets and are unable to cope with advanced formulae, VBA and macros. EASA, on the other hand, does not alter the native spreadsheet, but rather the mechanism to interface to it. EASA enables you to create a customized web app within a codeless or “low-code” environment. This web app then serves as the user interface to the spreadsheet so that users of the spreadsheets no longer directly touch it – no copying, editing or emailing of xls (or xlsm) files. Rather, users simply access a web app with any browser, specify the necessary inputs and the web app then communicates with the spreadsheet, now on a secure location on your network, to instantly provide the calculated outputs back to the web app. Excel becomes the business logic engine only, and the web app replaces Excels rudimentary row-column-cell based user interface.
Some of the benefits of using EASA’s Excel to web application software include:
1) Security: since users don’t touch the actual spreadsheet, there is no danger of exposing or unauthorized or accidental editing of the logic.
2) Version control: your web app talks to a specific master version of the spreadsheet which cannot be altered by the general user, only by the administrators authorized to update the native spreadsheet. Version control becomes a non-issue. Furthermore, when updates are made, they can be rolled out instantly to your entire network of users.
3) Greatly enhanced accessibility: since it is now browser based, anyone authorized to access the URL on your network can access the app. Finer access control is enabled by EASA, and an admin user can specify which users and user-groups can use which apps, and who can share (or not share) results and output. But even higher granularity is possible, for example only exposing certain parts of a spreadsheet do different user-audiences.
4) Customizable: the interface you create (the web app) is no longer constrained to look like a spreadsheet (unless you want it to). Highly dynamic and fit-for-purpose customization can make your existing spreadsheets far easier and intuitive to use, especially for those not familiar with it.
5) Integration: Excel spreadsheets are often part of a greater process or workflow, and may involve any number of other software assets, for example databases, ERP systems, and CAE software just to name a few. EASA automates and web-enables complete workflows – for example, from Salesforce to a pricing spreadsheet to a PDF, signature-ready proposal.
6) Reliability: a local version of Excel is no longer needed for the users, whether they are using a computer, an iPad or a smart phone. Besides the obvious benefit of enhanced access, you will no longer suffer from failures due to mismatches in settings, release numbers, service packs, etc.
EASA’s Excel to web application software allows you to keep using your existing spreadsheets, providing all the advantages of flexibility, familiarity and agility, while completely addressing the inherent challenges of sharing spreadsheets. Compared to hand coding custom software or programming a commercial tool, EASA is typically much faster, far less costly and disruptive, and far easier to implement.
Article by EASA Software