back to article Time to make up: Realtime collaboration comes to Excel

Microsoft has announced a "significant" step in Excel for Office 365 users on PCs. Users of the giant's trademark Excel spreadsheet package can now work on a document at the same time as colleagues. It means you can jointly edit Excel documents stored on SharePoint Online, OneDrive or OneDrive for Business rather than fields …

  1. John Styles

    At last, a technological breakthrough that will truly bring about the end of the world. All the people with MBAs who can **** things up by buying / moving / closing businesses based on bug-ridden scary 135 worksheet spreadsheets can now do it collaboratively in real time.

    In particular I look forward to Davis, Johnson and 'Disgraced' Fox collaborating on Brexit.xlsx from their respective bed-rooms in Chevening (with the Russians having full access too, obviously)

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >In particular I look forward to Davis, Johnson and 'Disgraced' Fox collaborating on Brexit.xlsx

      Only the three Brexiteers? Surely they will working on the same spreadsheet as the EU negotiators and the other 27 member nations - so easily circa 100 collaborators...

  2. Roger Greenwood

    Less of a breakthrough . . .

    . . . more of a catch up with the competition. (We switched to google docs for this feature alone. 10 years ago).

    1. Rores

      Re: Less of a breakthrough . . .

      It's a current feature of Excel Online, and has been for ages. This brings it to the desktop version.

      1. Roger Greenwood

        Re: Less of a breakthrough . . .

        The desktop version of old (2003?) had a facility we liked a lot - called shared spreadsheets or similar and it sort of worked most of the time. The trouble is it was very flaky and would hang - we got fed up of round tripping it through openoffice every week to clear out the cruft.

        I have tried the online version but it still has a way to go in the user friendly department.

        Open/Libre office never got there either.

      2. P. Lee

        Re: Less of a breakthrough . . .

        >This brings it to the desktop version.

        So it is a database with row/field level locking? And its being shared from a desktop?


        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Less of a breakthrough . . .

          So it is a database with row/field level locking? And its being shared from a desktop?


          So what's the worst that could happen? After all, Access multi-user never had a problem, right?

          Oh - hang on..

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Hardly new...

    This was already possible with Office 2010 right after Microsoft launched SkyDrive (now OneDrive).

    And I'm not just saying mind you, check this MSDN article from 2013. This involves Team Foundation, but even so that was still a way to perform team edits on Office documents.

    Or what about this Office support article on co-authoring?

    I quote: "When you're using Office and your document is on SharePoint or OneDrive, when everyone is done, you have a finished document, there's no need to copy and reformat.". As said: I've been using this with Office 2010 for years now.

  4. Snarf Junky

    Will be interesting to see how much they have to disable to get this working. VBA will almost certainly not be allowed. You probably won't be able to insert tables or do much in the way of changing the structure of a spreadsheet. Probably not much more functionality than current shared workbooks.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why not...

    umm, put it in a SQL database and massage it from there instead of in a freaking spreadsheet that's so highly sensitive to corruption? If you're big enough to need to actively "collaborate" in a SINGLE spreadsheet, aren't you big enough to hire a DBA and do things properly? In legacy, non-collaborative mode, when a spreadsheet corrupts, it's only going to piss off one person at a time. So just imagine the fun when there are 20 or 30 simultaneous users in said spreadsheet and you have two bytes somewhere in the binary skeleton of the file that get swapped. (Although, on a positive note, if you fix it, you look like a hero to 20 or 30 people at once)

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: why not...

      >put it in a SQL database and massage it from there instead of in a freaking spreadsheet

      Surely as this is cloud that is exactly MS have done: simply put an Excel like UI on a SQL*Server DB.

      I mean they managed to do it for Access decades back.

  6. DNTP

    This will be fun and I hope never to have to troubleshoot it

    Considering how much trouble and support the supposedly "advanced level" staff around here seem to get into with their single-user Excel spreadsheets.

  7. Potemkine Silver badge

    Clouds. Dark ones.

    Was the functionality already here for years or not? Whatever the answer, it shows how functionalities are difficult to use and access in MS Products. Obscurity, complexity, making half of the job, all these words fit very well with whatever tools makes Microsoft.

    For the one used to work with G Drive apps, working with MS is like going back in the dark ages when programs were made by IT people for IT people, and screw the typical user who does not think like aforementioned IT people.

  8. Code Dinosaur

    600Mb Shared Excel File

    About three years ago I had some users sharing an Excel file to record quotes they had done. A worksheet that started as 50k grew rapidly to 600Mb as Excel tried to do it's versioning & sharing thing, it clogged the file server with locking errors & gradually brought down every machine that touched it. After washing it through libreoffice I moved the data into SQL & gave them a simple editing screen. One day's development gave them a much better system & got all their machine's running at a decent speed.

    I also went the full "Linus" on my users explaining why you don't share spreadsheets or use them for database jobs. To this day if I'm walking round the office I see users swiftly hiding an instance of Excel afraid I might spot their illegal use of a spreadsheet.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like