Microsoft has released their Excel REST API, a way for developers to use Excel functions within their programs.
This might not seem like a big deal to most people but it open up the possibility of very interesting programs and apps in the future.
It’s possible for a app to link with Microsoft servers to get the results of complex calculations instead of having to write and test that code separately (aka ‘reinventing the wheel’). It’s also possible to save an Excel worksheet to OneDrive, SharePoint etc. and work with them from a program.
Microsoft’s example is a simple ‘To Do’ list which is really an Excel worksheet. Excel worksheets can be the source of data or a template of calculations and charts ready for an app to input values.
All this is done via Microsoft Graph which is a programing platform for some Office functions to work with data stored on the broad ‘Office 365’ cloud system.
There’s been an Excel API for some time and, of course, VBA programmers have been able to work with Excel worksheets directly. But that requires individual Excel install and licence on each users computer. The Excel REST API is cloud based so there’s a lot less needed on individual computers.
Nerds will tell you than REST means Representational State Transfer, a stateless, client-server, cacheable communications protocol. That means the program makes a request for information from a web service and waits to receive some information back. Each time you click on a web link and get back a web page; that’s a form of REST.
For most people this is all so much phlogiston but, if the promises hold, it should mean better and cheaper specialist apps for organizations and the wider public.
Of course, it also means the need for Office 365 subscriptions and payment for other Microsoft cloud services. An Office 365 school or work account is required (not just a simple Office 365 subscription for Office software).