Improvements are coming to Excel to go beyond numbers and text

Don Sharpe
by Don Sharpe
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  • Microsoft is bringing new updates to Excel to allow creation of custom data types.
  • The update mainly targets developers.
  • The Microsoft Office suite has been receiving updates for a while now.

Good news for developers on Excel who need to create their own custom data types. While the update is a major step in the right direction, it is a much welcome update and adds more to just text and numbers.

For a long time, Microsoft Excel has been predominantly about text and numbers and Microsoft has been working to increase the data types supported by the application.

Just last year at the Ignite Conference, dynamic arrays and array formulas were introduced and now this year, it’s the custom data types.

Here is the gist

The great thing about this update is that linked data types connect users to other data from Bing and other sources.

The goal is to show everyone that Excel can offer more than just text and numbers. Non-developers can now create mobile and desktop apps for businesses.

According to Microsoft’s program manager,

“With the addition of data types, Excel has evolved to a world where cells can contain something much richer. Linked data types (Stocks, Geography, Wolfram and Power BI), entity values, dynamic arrays, improved errors, images in cells, lambdas, and formatted number values are all new types that have delivered on this promise and back many of the experiences you have seen introduced in the product today,” 

Introduction of Javascript interfaces

With the introduction of Javascript interfaces, developers can now use more data types. This addition will revolutionize how developers work.

It will significantly reduce the number of custom fixes for add-ins needed.

For those familiar with Range.values API, Range.valuesAsJson should be easier to read as it will allow them to read and write data types.

The new API supports entity values, web images, formatted number values and arrays which can be used as inputs and outputs.

The update is currently available in the latest Windows and macOS versions for Insiders with the latest JavaScript APIs.  

What do you think of the latest update for Excel? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.