Excel

Excel 2002 also introduced only incremental changes. Once more, the major improvements were in the user interface rather than in programming features. Microsoft continued to concentrate on improving web-related features to make it easier to access and distribute data using the Internet. New features that can be useful for VBA programmers included a new Protection object, SmartTags, RTD (Real Time Data), and improved support for XML.

The Protection object allows selective control over the features that are accessible to users when you protect a worksheet. You can decide whether users can sort, alter cell formatting, or insert and delete rows and columns, for example. There is also a new AllowEditRange object that you can use to specify which users can edit specific ranges and whether they must use a password to do so. You can apply different combinations of permissions to different ranges.

SmartTags allow Excel to recognize data typed into cells as having special significance. For example, Excel 2002 can recognize stock market abbreviations, such as MSFT for Microsoft Corporation. When Excel sees an item like this, it displays a SmartTag symbol that has a pop-up menu. You can use the menu to obtain related information, such as the latest stock price or a summary report on the company. Microsoft provides a kit that allows developers to create new SmartTag software to make data available throughout an organization or across the Internet.

RTD allows developers to create sources of information that users can draw from. Once you establish a link to a worksheet, changes in the source data are automatically passed on. An obvious use for this is to obtain stock prices that change in real time during the course of trading. Other possible applications include the ability to log data from scientific instruments or industrial process controllers.

Improved XML support meant that it was getting easier to create applications that exchange data through the Internet and intranets. As everyone becomes more dependent on these burgeoning technologies, XML support becomes of increasing importance.

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