What it does

The Excel-to-Word Document Automation Add-in automates updating of Excel-based content into Word and PowerPoint documents. Updatable content includes text, tables, and charts. It also makes it easy to link/map the “dynamic” content to be updated. Users can update any new or existing Word or PowerPoint document with content from any new or existing Excel workbook.
The add-in can significantly improve productivity for scenarios requiring updating of recurring reports and documents that need to be customized/personalized multiple times. It is often used for information-intensive applications where Excel is used to capture, consolidate, calculate, analyze, or summarize data.

Inspiration

I've helped businesses automate the creation of data-intensive documentation from Excel assessments for over 15 years . I've used VBA, OpenXML, and various web technologies, but they all have significant limitations. Office.js provides a great cross-platform solution that solves many of these limitations. It allows extensive user flexibility to create powerful documentation automation solutions (the Office suite), but also allows organizations to control user actions where desired (version control, access security).

Common Usage Scenarios

This add-in can be used in a wide variety of document automation scenarios. Here are a few:

Customer business cases (from an Excel-based ROI/TCO Tool);
Personalized sales and marketing collateral, including proposals and quotes;
Custom product documentation (from Excel sizing/capacity/configurator);
Recurring financial and business reports (from Excel analysis);
Custom datasheets (from engineering/scientific calculations in Excel)

How I built it

Uses Office.js on the client side and C#, SQL Server, Azure, and OpenXML on the server side.

Challenges I ran into

Communication between Excel and Word/PowerPoint; Easy-to-understand UI design; and limited PowerPoint API functionality (required complex server-side OpenXML document manipulation)

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Built platform from scratch that individuals and businesses are now starting to count on to significantly improve productivity of a variety of document creation/updating tasks.

What I learned

UI Design is critical to enable user adoption.

What's next for Excel-to-Word Document Automation Add-in

We are mostly finished with these "enterprise" features:

Version control (disable features or encourage user to download new version);
Secure workbook access (Data/calculations available after secure login, automated workbook protection) Administrator controls;
Usage reporting & analysis;
Server-based report creation, using OpenXML (similar to PPT reporting, but uses a template stored on server)

We plan to develop other "enterprise" features, including:

Save/Load assessment data to the cloud;
Collaborate (securely share assessment data with colleagues/partners);
Usage reporting and analytics; Document management (easy access to corporate-approved workbooks and documents);
Integration with AnalysisPlace web-based sales/marketing tools Enterprise single sign-on;
Add-in customization (e.g. branding);
Localization;
Integration (CRM, ERP, SFA)

The add-in requires Office 2016. It must be added to Excel and either Word or PowerPoint. The add-in includes sample documents to help get users started. The free-forever "Basic" version does not require registration or login to get started and is a great option to evaluate the add-in and for users with basic content automation needs. Fee-based versions are also available to enable premium and enterprise features. The add-in has 2 types of user access: 1) Anonymous: limited usage, but adequate for most users; 2) Secure (login): Fee-based and enables “Enterprise”, advanced, and custom features

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Updates

Andrew Hall posted an update

We are wrapping up core development of our first batch of "Enterprise" features. These features enable deployment and management of Excel-to-Word/PowerPoint document automation tools in a multi-user environment. The features include: • Flexible access control - allows access by email domain or via a user list • Version control - checks if Excel, Word, and PowerPoint documents are current. If not, it can disable use until user downloads current version • Restore default values/formulas in the Excel workbook - this makes it easy to restart assessments or portions of an assessment • Administrator and authoring controls - automates creation and management of the document pair. Helps automate protection of worksheets, hiding "hidden" sections and sheets, setting default values, defining input cells, etc. • Usage analysis - allows administrators to view usage statistics And most importantly, server-based Word/PowerPoint document creation (based on a template) - this makes it very easy for occasional users to get started fast (especially combined with auto-open in Excel). Users simply open the workbook, conduct their assessment (modify input cells), then select a Word or PowerPoint report from a drop-down list. The reports are created on our server and downloaded by the user. If desired, the user can then further modify/update the Word or PowerPoint report in the Office apps via the add-in.

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