The latest release of Excel 365 for Windows is a right mess with missing Dynamic Arrays and, for a while, Stock and Geography data types disappeared too!
We received some reports late Friday, US time that Excel 365 for Windows v1907 build 11901.20176 wasn’t showing Stock or Geography data types on the Data ribbon.
The problem was happening on both sides of the Atlantic. And was happening on our test machines too. The linked data types still appeared in the Insider builds of Excel for Windows and Mac.
Most people assumed it was a bug in that version of Excel but that’s not it. The bug seems to have been in the cloud systems that service Excel 365.
Happily by early Saturday morning, Stock and Geography data service seems to have been restored. But not for everyone.
Why the disappearing act?
Unlike other parts of the ribbon, Data | Data Types only appears on the ribbon after Excel checks with Microsoft’s cloud services.
If there’s no response from the Data Types servers, that whole section of ribbon doesn’t show up at all.
When Excel 365 starts it checks for linked data types on the MS servers and shows what’s available. That happens whether you’re using Linked Data Types or not.
If no response, that entire block in the Data ribbon doesn’t appear.
It seems there was a problem when the latest version of Excel tried to contact ‘home’ for data types information.
We’ve seen this problem before but as a Microsoft server problem. Linked Data Types (LDT) are serviced from various Microsoft server farms around the globe, Excel picks the closest one for it’s LDT connection. Very rarely, the nearest server isn’t working and Stock/Geo don’t show up in Excel.
The workaround is to use a VPN connection to somewhere far away from your real location then restart Excel 365 (either the USA or Europe should be more reliable). That should force Excel to check a different Microsoft server system,
Whatever happened (no announcement from Microsoft) it’s not a good look for Office’s much hyped cloud services or the way they are presented in Excel.
The decision to have Data Types disappear entirely when there’s no server connection is questionable. Better for ‘Data Types’ to appear but be blank or the Stock and Geography types be greyed out. At least the customer knows the feature exists though not currently available. That would be consistent with other Office ribbons where unavailable buttons are greyed out not removed entirely.