ExcelWriter V4 Review
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by Andrew Mooney
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Full Excel Functionality

ExcelWriter gives you the ability to use all of Microsoft Excel's major formulas and functions in your spreadsheet reports. This is where ExcelWriter flexes its muscles simplifying Web reports with the power of spreadsheet formulas. The amount of code required to write an impressive-looking report with ExcelWriter is minimal compared to ASP script alone. Just as with Excel you can create multiple worksheets and access their cells in your formulas.

You can create Microsoft Excel spreadsheets from ASP script by setting the content type to application/vnd.ms-excel, but with this method, you cannot use any format properties or formulas. ExcelWriter allows you to modify the visual aspect of your report. Formatting can be added to a cell by setting the font, hidden, horizontal alignment, locked, number, orientation, vertical alignment, and text wrap properties. You can create styles that contain color, font and other format options for use in multiple cells or ranges.

Pivot Tables are an uncommon feature in Web reporting software packages, but always a welcome feature. Using Pivot Tables, ExcelWriter allows you to analyze related totals, especially when you have a long list of figures to sum and you want to compare several facts about each figure. The interactive summary table allows you to change your view of the data. This is an excellent feature because the spreadsheet performs the calculations for you automatically.

ExcelWriter offers good printing flexibility, allowing you to set the page layout properties for header, footer, alignment, margins, paper size, orientation, print area and print gridlines. Any Page layout settings you make in an existing spreadsheet or a template spreadsheet are kept when you open it in ExcelWriter. Or you could use ExcelWriter´s PageSetup object to set layout properties in ASP script. Having a page layout already set up for users, who will need a hard copy of the report, can save time for both you and them.

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