Someone sent me an email last week suggesting I have a Wishlist category where we could discuss features we hope MS will someday incorporate into Excel. I think that’s a fine idea. If you like, send me an email with your wish. If I find it sufficiently interesting, I’ll post it for others to comment.
For my first wish, I’d like a sheet in my workbook dedicated to External Data. I think someone on Simon’s blog suggested this in a comment once (maybe Harlan). The worksheet would be a recordset of an external data source and nothing else. Users would not be able to type anything outside the recordset or change much about the sheet. Here’s the kicker: Excel would keep the sheet and the external data source in sync. When you write to a cell on the sheet, the external data would be updated. If the recordset isn’t updateable, you wouldn’t be able to write to the cells. If you try to put a string in a cell that’s linked to an external data field designated Integer, you would get an error. Basically it would be like datasheet view in Access. Now I handle all this will class modules and ado, but it would be nice to stay within Excel’s object model to accomplish the same thing. Not to mention the UI.
One prediction I made at the recent Excel Users Conference in Sydney is that Excel and Access will be one product in our lifetime (well mine anyway). Have you seen Access 2007? Do those dropdowns in datasheet view look familiar? “But Access is a database”, you say. No, not really. Access is the front end to a database. In my world, Excel is usually the front end to a database. It’s not that I don’t like Access, there are just people who are better at it than me, so I generally avoid that kind of work. The recent datasheet view changes in Access 2007 brings that prediction one step closer. My external data worksheet wish would bring it closer still. The only question that remains is whether to call it Accel or Excess. I prefer the latter.
You can leave your own wish in a comment (or email as noted above), comment on my wish, or leave a comment with what you would name the new combination Excel/Access product.