Professional Excel Templates

Vertex42 The Excel Nexus

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Vertex42 The Excel Nexus Overview

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My Vertex42 The Excel Nexus Review

Highly Recommended

Some users might complain that the default interface is more complicated than it needs to be. If you just panicked grab a quick drink and relax because this baby has a full customizable interface.

However, Vertex42 The Excel Nexus is a fairly good program considering the standard and depth of the material it provides. In addition to being effective and its great ease of use, this software makes worth every penny of its price.

Listing 66 Spreadsheet Oriented Grid Column Selection Support

In this case, I just programmatically added some rows and columns to the grid, set the column headers to be the letters of the alphabet, and turned off sorting on the column by setting the SortMode property to NotSortable. If you were going to support very large spreadsheets, you might need to maintain an in-memory sparse array, and only render the cells as you need them (which you could do with virtual mode) to avoid the overhead of maintaining a large number of cells, their contents, and their selections if the grid will be sparsely populated.

Defining Tables Entities and Fields Attributes

The first step in creating the logical database design is to define your tables and fields. Tables, also called entities, are logical groupings of related information. Recall that, when we converted our flat file spreadsheet into tables at the beginning of the chapter, we ended up with the following Customers, Orders, and OrderItems tables

Flat File versus Relational Databases

Flat files are the most basic form of database - all of the information is stored in a single file. A flat file includes a field for every item of information that you need to store. While they are easy to create and can be useful in certain situations, flat files are not very efficient. They can be quite wasteful of storage space, containing a lot of duplicated information, especially in a complex system where multiple files hold connected information. This can make information harder to maintain and retrieve. If you have worked with spreadsheets before, then you have already worked with one of the most common examples of a flat file database. To further demonstrate how the data in flat files is organized and why this can be problematic, let's walk through a hypothetical example. Suppose you use the spreadsheet shown in the table below to track orders placed by your customers Suppose you use the spreadsheet shown in the table below to track orders placed by your customers Notice how...

Declaring multidimensional arrays

This tells the C compiler that you want to create an array with one dimension of 10 and another dimension of 25. You can think of a two-dimensional array as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with 10 rows and 25 columns. Table 3-3 shows how this array might look if its data were in a table.

Understanding the Effort Total Worksheet

A complete summary of the effort and cost estimations can be found on the Effort -Total worksheet in the Microsoft Excel workbook that is generated by the assessment tool. this workbook and each has an associated weight indicating the effort required to upgrade that particular aspect, the weights for some aspects are left at zero. This means that the assessment tool does not consider that all aspects are important to the estimation. The aspects that do have weights for effort and cost have values that may not be appropriate for your organization. Also, remember that every upgrade project is different, and although similar worksheets to this one have been used in real upgrade projects, there are always new things to consider or assumptions built into estimate worksheets that do not apply to every project. It is likely that you will have to make some adjustments before applying this estimation to your own projects. For this reason, the next paragraphs explain how the assessment tool...

Data Transformation Services

DTS is a set of components used to import, export, and transform data and the tools that let you use the components. The source and destination data can be from a single data source or multiple data sources. The data formats can vary greatly, from an Excel spreadsheet to a comma-separated text file or a relational database. Because DTS is a series of COM components, SQL Server does not have to participate by being either the source or the destination data source.

Overview of Data Import and Export Tools

One of the more common tasks involved with administering a database is importing and exporting data. The necessity to import and export data can be spawned by a request from a user, an upgrade to a system, data consolidation, archiving, or testing new application technology. Just as numerous as the reasons to move the data are the number of native and heterogeneous formats in which the data reside. Sometimes the data can reside in another database, such as Microsoft Access or Oracle. Other times, the data source is not in a database and is encapsulated in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or a text file. Adding more complexity is the fact that the data can reside in various disparate locations a needed file could be located on a network share on the LAN while other needed information is on a database server in another city on the WAN. Issues are further complicated because often the data cannot be used as is and need to be transformed to be useful. Compounding the difficulty is the fact...

Logging web site activity

IIS allows you to log user activity into a text file* or into an ODBC-compliant database. This logging is separate from Windows NT logging, and the records in the IIS log cannot be viewed using the Windows NT Event Viewer tool. To view the IIS log files, you must open them as you would any other ASCII text file, import them into a spreadsheet or database program, or, if you've been logging to an ODBC database, view them through queries to that database.

Creating a database table with keys

As DNN is a database driven Content management system (CMS), it is likely your module will include one or more database Tables. A database table is used to hold information for your module. Similar to a spreadsheet, a table consists of columns called Fields and rows called Records. As we are creating a module called Employee, the fields in our table will hold employee information such as first and last name. Each record in the table will hold one employee. One of the things that makes a database table more powerful than a simple spreadsheet is its ability to automatically validate the information in the records. For example, it is important that each employee record in the table has a unique value that identifies the record (called the Item id). The database can enforce the unique value with a primary key (named for the fact that the Item id is the most important key to the employee record).

Gracefully Recovering from an Exception

Result * Code to calculate value of a spreadsheet's cell This pseudocode calculates the contents of a cell in a spreadsheet and returns a string representing the value back to the caller so that the caller can display the string in the application's window. However, a cell's contents might be the result of dividing one cell by another cell. If the cell containing the denominator contains 0, the CLR will throw a DivideByZeroException exception. In this case, the method catches this specific exception and returns a special string that will be displayed to the user.

Utilizing Cell Oriented Grid Features

You have probably noticed that the DataGridView is much more focused at the cell level that itsDataGrid predecessor was. Part of the reason for this is that a frequent use of grids is where columns don't necessarily dictate the structure of the grid's content. Specifically, users want spreadsheet-like functionality that mimics the interaction model millions of people have become accustomed to with programs like Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet applications. As an example of a more cell-oriented application, the download code includes an application called SimpleSpread. This application mimics a simple spreadsheet and lets you do summations of the numeric values in a cell. It uses a combination of selection mode and some event handling to give you a similar selection experience to most spreadsheetsspecifically, it acts like a combination of RowHeaderSelect and ColumnHeaderSelect, even though you can't achieve that through theSelectionMode property alone. The To code this up (as...

Data and XML

Almost everything we do in the software industry relates to data in some way. At some point, all software developers must deal with data, perhaps using a database, text file, spreadsheet, or some other data store. There are many different methods or technologies for using, manipulating, and managing data, and newer methods are continually introduced to enhance existing ones. These methods range from function-based APIs to object-based frameworks and proprietary libraries.

Adding the Selection Logic

Full coverage of the DataTable type can be found in the next chapter however, for the time being, simply understand that a DataTable is a class type that represents a tabular block of data (like a grid on a spreadsheet). To do so, the DataTable type maintains a collection of rows and columns. While these collections can be filled programmatically, the DataTable type provides a method

Data GridView Overview

You can make the grid act like a spreadsheet, so that the focus for interaction and presentation is at the cell level instead of at the row or column level. You can control the formatting and layout of the grid with fine-grained precision simply by setting a few properties on the control. Finally, you can plug in a number of predefined column and cell control types, or provide your own custom controls, and you can even mix different control types within different cells in the same row or column.

Using the Builtin Column Types

The first thing to realize is that even though most of the functionality is surfaced at the cell level in a DataGridView and it can support spreadsheet-like behavior (as described later in this chapter), the grid is still primarily a tabular control. The columns in the grid usually represent information that can be determined at design timespecifically, the schema of the data that will be presented. The rows are usually determined dynamically at runtime and map to the structure specified by the columns. You may occasionally programmatically create columns for rendering based on dynamic data schemas at runtime, but even then you are first defining the data's shape (the columns) and then providing the data (the rows).

Desktop Application Types

Multiple-document applications Include full-fledged applications like word processors and spreadsheets. When you think about it, they represent that fringe area of C programming where you need to weigh the flexibility of C against the development speed offered by RAD programming environments like Visual Basic. Multiple-document applications can work with more than one document at a time and could work with multiple document types simultaneously.

Data Access with ADONET

Data can come from a variety of sources, including comma separated value (CSV) files, XML, e-mail, spreadsheets, or one of a range of other text or binary formats. In general, however, you will more commonly be taking information from a database such as Microsoft Access, SQL Server, Visual Fox Pro, Oracle, DB2, Sybase, or Informix. At the moment, there is much demand for communication with data sources across platforms, such as accessing data on a mainframe running under Unix from a workstation running Windows. A great deal of data is being migrated to newer generation servers that are more robust and cost effective, so this trend is likely to continue, and there are a lot of companies that want to upgrade because their existing systems can no longer support the volume of data they now require. Now, of course, everyone is talking about Internet services and retrieving data through that means - the ultimate distributed model. How can we do this in a way that avoids having to rewrite...

How Do I Create a New Value Type

Creating new value types isn't that difficult, although it can be a long-winded process if you want to implement a completely functional type. As an example, let's look at a simple value type implemented in VB, which formats negative numbers by placing parentheses around them the way you often see them in accounting and financial spreadsheets. It implements the three common interfaces IComparable (so that you can easily write code to compare objects), IConvertible (to provide conversions between a MyType and other common value types), and IFormattable (so that it can be printed out in the correct format)

Estimating Time and Cost

These two estimates are usually the most important and traditionally the most difficult to determine. Among other things, they depend on the available resources, developer skills, experience, and knowledge, and quality and size of the application. The MainReport.xls file produced by the assessment tool provides assistance with cost and effort estimates by providing suggestions of the types of resources needed for various upgrade tasks, the cost for each type of resource, and the length of time that resource will need to perform the task. The MainReport.xls file contains several tabs the report the estimated cost and effort for upgrade tasks, as listed here The configurability of the various estimates in the MainReport.xls file will help your organization improve their accuracy over time. The more upgrade projects your developers participate in, the more information you gather about the costs and effort required to handle different aspects of upgrading. This information can then be...

Assessing the Necessary Technical Expertise

When planning what needs to be done and in what order, you must also decide who will be responsible for each of the tasks that you identify. The assessment tool produces a report in the MainReport.xls file to assist with making these kinds of decisions. The Config - Resources tab of this file provides a list of recommended resource categories with a description and cost-per-hour for each category. Although default costs for each category are provided, these values can be modified to fit the actual costs for your company. The MainReport.xls file also provides a fairly complete set of information about the kinds of tasks that need to be completed to upgrade your project. Furthermore, it hints at the resource categories needed to complete those tasks.

Dynamic Crystal Reports

Viewer Crystall Report 2008 Net

If you have Crystal Reports 2008, you can also create a report using its SDK's object model. Just as in Word or Excel VBA, for example, anything you can do with Crystal Reports from the designer interface you can also accomplish programmatically via the SDK. Using the same interface shown in the previous section, you can build a report using the code shown in Listing 7-18.

Syncfusions Essential XlsIO

Syncfusion's (www.syncfusion.com) Essential XlsIO is written completely in .NET code (C ) and optionally comes with the source code. This product offers PageSetup objects, row height settings, page breaks, document property settings, data validation, conditional formatting, comments, rich text, autofilters, charts, hyperlinks, PivotTables, and images. Essential XlsIO offers everything but macros, but it preserves them if they're present in template spreadsheets. Listing 7-9 shows how to create a simple spreadsheet. Instantiate the spreadsheet creation engine oExcelEngine new ExcelEngine() Create a workbook You need to instantiate the spreadsheet-creation engine first and then reference the existing workbook and worksheet as you would in Excel. The PageSetup object encapsulates the same settings as its Excel counterpart, and Essential XlsIO provides its own enumerated values to refer to such properties as Orientation and PaperSize. Headers and footers are set as you expect. Finally,...

Soft Artisans Office Writer for Excel

The application object in the Enterprise product offers an unlimited number of spreadsheets with full programmatic functionality, including PivotTables, VBA, charts, and macros. The programmatic control allows you to add flexibility to your applications by instantly modifying reports based on runtime data or your users' requests. The Standard Edition preserves all of the Excel features in a template or existing spreadsheet. With limited exposure to the OfficeWriter application object in the Standard Edition, features such as cell merging and column and row autofitting aren't available at runtime. Listing 7-12 shows how to create a spreadsheet using SoftArtisans' OfficeWriter. The output is the same as that shown in Figure 7-3. If you've ever created a spreadsheet with VBA code, this should all be familiar territory. Listing 7-12. Creating a Spreadsheet Using SoftArtisans' OfficeWriter for Excel In addition to creating and formatting spreadsheets, SoftArtisans offers its Hot-Cell...

Clipboard Data Formats

Some text is intended to be read by programs rather than people. For example, many database and spreadsheet programs can copy and paste information in a comma-separated value (CSV) text format. This format provides an application-independent way of sharing database records or numeric tables.

Adding a Data Source to Your Report

Locate the type of datasource you would like to add to your report and expand the data source folder. Depending on what type of datasource you select, an additional dialog may open. For example, if you select ODBC (RDO), a second dialog will open and prompt you for an ODBC data source. Likewise, if you select Access Excel (DAO) under More Data Sources, a second dialog will open and allow you to select a spreadsheet or database to report from.

Working with Data Grids

The DataGrid control is a bound data control that displays items from the selected data source in a grid or spreadsheet-like fashion. This was possible before .NET, but it required a fair amount of code if you wanted to implement more than a read-only grid. This new server control, along with the Repeater and DataList controls, makes it a snap to wire up to a data source and display columnar data using a minimal amount of coding. New to the DataGrid control is paging. You no longer have to be concerned with writing code to handle the paging of data in the grid. For anyone who has written this type of code in the past, this is a welcome relief.

Data Object Methods selection

The SymbolicLink string identifies text in the Symbolic Link (SYLK) format created by Microsoft for the MultiPlan spreadsheet program, and the DatalnterchangeFormat string identifies text in the Data Interchange Format (DIF) devised by Software Arts for the VisiCalc spreadsheet program. Both these clipboard formats were introduced in Windows 1.0 and, as you might expect, aren't used much these days. Csv is a text format used by spreadsheet and database programs for exchanging data. In a block of spreadsheet rows and columns, columns are separated by commas and rows are separated by end-of-line characters. When a database uses Csv, fields are separated by commas and records are separated by end-of-line characters. Numbers are stored in a readable ASCII format text is delimited by quotation marks.

Missing Application Elements

Figure 3.9 illustrates the Missing Components report from the DetailedReport.xls file. The Missing Components report includes the file name and path of the missing components in addition to the corresponding version and the registered name. It is necessary to install these components on the upgrade computer to execute the automated upgrade. The quantity of missing components is considered in the effort estimation (Effort - By Tasks tab in the MainReport.xls file produced by the assessment tool) according to the missing elements configuration data. Figure 3.10 illustrates the Missing Files report from the DetailedReport.xls file.

Command Line Utilities

Object Linking and Embedding Database (OLE DB) fills this gap. Designed with broader goals in mind, it becomes the data access bridge for spreadsheets, file systems, documents, e-mail systems, and other data-bases using ODBC. Data sources that you might not normally think of as data sources become accessible through the same interface used to access traditional databases. Each data source, including normal databases, has an OLE DB provider, which is the layer between the ADO and the data itself. Information within the data source is returned as rowsets, which most developers are accustomed to dealing with when accessing normal databases such as SQL Server. If a vendor wanted to leverage this technology to give access to network resources, for example, it could write an OLE DB provider designed to access those resources.

Add Multidimensional Arrays

C lets you declare multidimensional arrays for processing a large number of values in one argument. A multidimensional array arranges its data similar to the way a spreadsheet does. C multidimensional arrays let you specify two or three elements in the array for two-dimensional and three-dimensional arrays, respectively. You can use two-dimensional arrays for specifying coordinates such as with the row and column in a spreadsheet, on a map, or on a game board such as those for checkers and chess. Programmers use two-dimensional arrays for such tasks as image processing.

ERepeating Data Controls

The repeater control is the simplest of the repeating data controls, because it has no inherent user interface. Thus, the repeater controls offer the most output flexibility. However, the trade-off for this flexibility is more effort required on the developer's part. The repeater control is very useful for any type of listed data including spreadsheet-style tables, bulleted point lists, series of images, or even simple comma-delimited lists. The datalist is similar to the repeater control, but is designed specifically to handle table-style data. The datalist organizes each data record into a single row of a standard data table format. Developers have control over both the display of the table as a whole, and each row of data. If you are looking for a way to display a spreadsheet style table of data, the datalist is a better choice than the repeater because it has the table structure built into it. If you use a repeater control, you need to define the table structure using HTML tables...

Second Normal Form

In the First Normal Form step, we modified the Orders table to allow multiple records for every product ordered (as opposed to having a fixed set of fields for up to four products). To allow this, the OrderNumber and ProductIdentifier fields became the primary key for the Orders table. While that satisfied the rule for first normal form, it violates Second Normal Form because the OrderDate, CustomerNumber, and OrderShipDate fields are not dependent solely on the entire primary key -that is, the combination of OrderNumber and ProductIdentifier. These fields depend only on the OrderNumber and are irrespective of the ProductIdentifier field. It should be possible to find values for the OrderDate, CustomerNumber, and OrderShipDate fields without needing to know the value of ProductIdentifier of any products that were ordered. The effect of this is that the current design repeats information (CustomerNumber and OrderShipDate) in multiple records of the Orders table when, ideally, we should...

Adonet Architecture

Microsoft ADO.NET's object model encompasses two distinct groups of classes content components and managed-provider components. The content components include the DataSet class and other supporting classes such as DataTable, DataRow, DataColumn, and DataRelation. These classes contain the actual content of a data exchange. The managed-provider components assist in data retrievals and updates. Developers can use the connection, command, and data reader objects to directly manipulate data. In more typical scenarios, developers use the DataAdapter class as the conduit to move data between the data store and the content components. The data can be actual rows from a database or any other form of data, such as an XML file or an Excel spreadsheet.

Connections

DTS connections are based on the OLE DB architecture, allowing the use of numerous, readily available OLE DB-compliant providers. In addition to the vast array of OLDE DB drivers, DTS can use ODBC connections through the OLE DB provider for ODBC, and it can access flat files using the OLE DB flat-file provider. DTS has native OLE DB support for both Oracle and SQL Server because they are so widely used. Other providers exist for such data sources as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Access, and HTML.

Ole Db

The real innovation behind OLE DB was Microsoft's strategy for Universal Data Access (UDA). The thinking behind UDA is that data is stored in many places - e-mails, Excel spreadsheets, web pages, and so on, as well as traditional databases - and that we should be able to access all this data programmatically, through a single unified data access technology. OLE DB is the base for Microsoft's implementation of this strategy. The number of OLE DB providers has been gradually rising to cover both relational database systems (even the opensource MySQL database now has an OLE DB provider), and non-relational data sources such as the Exchange 2000 Web Store, Project 2000 files, and IIS virtual directories. However, even before these providers became available, Microsoft ensured wide-ranging support for OLE DB by supplying an OLE DB provider for ODBC drivers, This meant that right from the start OLE DB could be used to access any data source that had an ODBC driver. As we shall see, this...

Items and Formats

However, an application can copy a particular item to the clipboard in multiple formats. For example, consider a spreadsheet program in which the user selects an array of rows and columns, and then triggers the Copy command. The spreadsheet program will probably use a variety of formats for storing those rows and columns on the clipboard. Of most importance to the application is probably a binary format known only to the application itself this private format allows the program to retrieve the exact data (with any formatting that is present) when the user triggers Paste. The spreadsheet program can also copy the selected rows and columns into the clipboard in a text-based comma-separated format that other spreadsheet or database programs can use. It could also format the data into text using tabs between the columns this format is suitable when you paste the data into a word processing program. Perhaps the spreadsheet application could even create a bitmap or a metafile containing an...

Tracking Issues

Tracking ofissues is a common way to follow bug changes. You can use a commercial software package or something as basic as a spreadsheet to track information. Some of the more common information to capture includes issues names, the module where the bug was found, the date entered, the resolution date, comments, the developer the bug was assigned to, and so on. The goal is to gather enough information so that the assigned developer or team can decipher the problem and determine the solution. Tracking the issues keeps you from losing track of bugs that need to be fixed. Tracking can also be used to single out issues to be enhanced in the future, because tracking frequently highlights issues that have room for improvement.

Existing Data Format

One of the considerations that you must take into account is the format of the source and destination data. Are the data in a SQL Server database, an Oracle database, a spreadsheet, a text file, or some other format The data format matters quite a bit because some tools can work with only particular formats. The BULK INSERT statement can work only with files as its source and a SQL Server as its destination. The BCP application and BulkCopy SQL-DMO objects can deal with files as either the source or destination but must have a SQL Server table and view as the other.

Analysis

Analysis of custom counters is application-specific, and there are no hard rules as to what you should analyze. It really depends upon what counters you have created and when you update them. Remember that custom counters can easily be tracked in the Performance Monitor. Using tools such as WAST, you can test your application and collect performance counters for analysis, perhaps in a spreadsheet. You can also use the PerformanceCounter object to query counters, although this is a task best left to applications other than ASP.NET. This is because accurate monitoring depends on regular sampling of data, and this isn't a task that ASP.NET is suited to. In this case you'd be better off building a Windows Forms application that could sample the data at regular intervals.

Database

We are no longer in the position of just extracting data from a database and presenting it as a simple web form. Now, we are just as likely to be aggregating data from mail messages, spreadsheets, XML documents, queries from various databases, and values retrieved from web services, and presenting them both over the Web and on mobile devices. Furthermore, all of this is mediated by business rules that determine which users have access, editing, and manipulation rights and takes place in an environment in which the tools and the specifications are in a near-constant state of flux.

What is XML

This alone, however, did not offer appropriate solutions to the growing needs of modern-day Web applications. For example, electronic-commerce applications required tags for product references, prices, addresses, and others. This implied that more new tags needed to be created, which would not do any good to the already-burdened HTML language. Therefore, XML was introduced to address the shortcomings of HTML. XML provides a set of rules to present structured data. Examples of structured data include spreadsheets, financial transactions, and technical drawings. Similar to HTML, XML also makes use of tags and attributes. In HTML, tags are used to control the display and appearance of data. In XML, however, tags are used to define the structure of data. XML is simple, platform-independent, and widely used. In XML, tags are used to delineate elements of data. The interpretation of data is not done by XML but by the application itself. For example, the < p> tag in XML need not indicate...

Linked Servers

Linked servers consist of an OLE DB provider and an OLE DB data source. The OLE DB provider is a dynamic link library (DLL), which interfaces with the data source. The OLE DB data source specifies which specific database will be accessed. OLE DB providers exist for databases, text files, spreadsheets, and query results.

Special Addons

Most vendors design PDAs as electronic versions of the calendar, address book, and personal note taker. Early versions of these products didn't include the mini-word processors and spreadsheets you'll find in modern versions. In fact, with special add-ons, you can now extend many PDAs to double as cameras, scanners, and other devices.

Methodology Overview

The cost of most tasks is directly derived from the cost of the resources necessary to perform the tasks and the estimated effort required to execute the task. For example, the cost of upgrading a COM component is higher if a senior developer is responsible for the conversion, although this may result in reduced effort. In contrast, a junior developer will cost less than an experienced developer but will require more time to achieve a functionally-equivalent upgrade. For more specific tasks, the cost is obtained from a per-occurrence cost that is related to the each task's degree of difficulty and the kind of resources necessary to perform it. The Config - General tab in the MainReport.xls file generated by the assessment tool contains default values for cost and effort for different upgrade tasks. These values can be modified For tasks whose cost is derived from the quantity of occurrences of a feature, the application conversion estimate of effort is calculated by counting up all...

Inventory to Upgrade

The table illustrated in Figure 3.3 is from the DetailedReport.xls file and shows an example of the Project Files Overview report that is generated by the assessment tool. User components account for a significant percentage of the upgrade effort as a consequence, the inventory of user component definitions and instances declared must be taken into consideration when determining the inventory of resources to upgrade. Figure 3.4 illustrates the DetailedReport.xls file and shows an example of the User Components Summary report. Third-party and Visual Basic 6.0 intrinsic components are also considered in the application inventory to be upgraded. The upgrade of these components involves the processing of the application source code to identify accesses to each of the component members. All member usages will be analyzed to determine if there is an equivalent member in the target environment some of these members will not have an equivalent in Visual Basic .NET and will require additional...

Using Cross Tabs

Multi Row Crosstab Crystal Report

Cross-tabs within Crystal Reports .NET can be used to display summarized data in rows and columns, similar to a spreadsheet. If you want to create a report with a cross-tab as its main feature, there is a Cross-Tab Expert available that will guide you through the steps to do so.

Single Tier Solutions

A single-tier architecture is the simplest form of application architecture. Single-tier applications, sometime called standalone applications, have everything they need to run installed locally on the client computer (also called a client workstation). Typically, these applications consist of a single binary executable (EXE) file, although you will find some applications that ship with their own binary libraries (DLLs), local data stores, or both. There are many examples of single-tier applications, such as word processors, spreadsheets, accounting programs, and video games.

DXML and HTML

One of the benefits of using a standard markup language such as XML to represent our data is that we can easily integrate data from different sources. For example, we can aggregate content from relational databases, spreadsheets, text files, or legacy corporate applications, into a single XML document. This document can then be merged with HTML for robust presentation in a web browser. Instead of displaying in a web browser, we could also deliver the XML to a software application in a different enterprise thus providing a link between the two stand alone applications and producing a truly distributed software system.

Microsoft Excel

I like Microsoft Excel for two primary reasons. First, its cell-and-column format is perfect for reporting. Second, its nature as a spreadsheet makes it a powerful interactive tool for users to perform analysis. You can facilitate this by outputting calculated columns as formulas. Instead of displaying raw numbers for totals and subtotals, formulas allow summary values to change as the user manipulates the detail when performing what-if analysis. If you want to create a server-based reporting solution, the creation of XLS files with Microsoft Excel itself isn't a viable solution. Excel, and the rest of the Microsoft Office suite, still requires the use of COM Interop. Although .NET 4.0 offers many new features for working with COM objects, especially the new dynamic type, they're not everyone's primary choice of development tools. The Excel object model has a large memory footprint and was intended to be instantiated individually on desktop machines, not potentially hundreds of times...

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