Excel Casts a Wider Net for Data in August Update

Updated connectors for SAP HANA and Access enable users to incorporate more information into their business analyses.

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft has tweaked some of its Excel connectors, allowing users to gather more data for their business intelligence and analytics efforts with fewer steps.

This month's update includes an improved connector for SAP HANA, allowing users to select more than one value for a variable or parameter in the Navigator window. HANA, the in-memory analytics platform from German software maker SAP, has gathered its share of big-name supporters in recent months.

Dell, in partnership with SAP, recently announced that it plans in April to open up an innovation lab intended to help businesses pit their business analytics workloads—30 terabytes—against the technology. "The lab environment for SAP HANA offers our customers the ability to test their current and future SAP applications and benchmark their performance to facilitate rapid adoption within their organization," remarked Simon Spence, global director of the Dell SAP division at Dell Services, in an Aug. 2 announcement.

In May, during SAP's Sapphire Now conference, Microsoft pledged to make more room on its cloud for HANA workloads. Among the new HANA on Azure options are multimode deployments with up to 32TB of memory and a high-performance virtual machine option with 448GB of memory, 32 cores and over 6.5TB of SSD-based storage.

Meanwhile, the Access Database connector for Excel features a new Select Related Tables button that, as its name suggests, selects all the tables with a direct relation to selected tables when clicked. And the OData connector gains a new way of gathering data.

"The OData connector now supports importing Open Type columns from OData feeds. Prior to this update, such columns were not supported in Power Query," blogged Microsoft's Excel team. "This option is exposed under the Advanced Options section in the OData connector dialog."

In addition, Query Editor users can now get on the same page with colleagues who create new Query Steps while working on Excel reports with localized editions of Excel. Steps are data acquisition and transformation activities performed in the Get & Transform tool or Power Query for Excel plug-in for Excel 2013 and 2010.

Previously, the software would label Steps like SplitColumns and FilteredRow according to the user's language settings. Now, by digging into their regional settings, users can keep the English labels and make them more recognizable to all contributors, claims Microsoft. A new description field in the Query Steps dialog allows users to optionally add comments or added documentation to each Step.

Query Editor also gains time- and date-based abilities. Once this month's update is applied, users can extract Week, Day or Month names from Date/Time columns from the Query editor ribbon. Users can also select a Date and Time column and merge them into a single Date/Time column. Finally, the software can now extract the start or end of an hour from Time and Date/Time columns.

The new capabilities are being rolled out to Office 365 subscribers using Excel 2016 as an automatic update. Excel 2010 or 2013 users can access the new features by downloading the most recent Power Query for Excel add-in.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...