You’ve probably seen Microsoft’s TV spots where the office workers are cheering, sliding down the hall on their knees, and otherwise celebrating their fantastic achievements. The message I get from that is not what Microsoft Office can do; it’s what the team can do together.
You may or may not like those ads, but their point is valid: Office 2003 isn’t really about features, it’s about cooperation. This book is an Excel programmer’s guide to that way of thinking.
Not long ago we were hearing how software helped us work with data; now it’s how software helps us work with others. But where did the data go? More and more it’s hiding behind a web page.
Folks know how to use web pages: they click a link and go to a new page, they click a button to add something to their shopping cart, type in their payment info, check out, and then get confirmation in email. Those actions now seem so natural they need little explanation.
You can do the same thing with your office processes: click on a link, fill out an expense report, and click a button to submit it for approval. These web-based processes replace the document-based approach. Instead of .doc and .xls files flying around you’ve got a single data format shared between the browser, email, database, and Office applications: XML.
Think of all the information where you work as a giant stream of XML data. You navigate the stream using your browser and you use Office applications to reach in and get, add, or change things (Figure 1-1).