Home >Companies >News >Microsoft redesigns Excel with custom live data types — key features and more

To allow customers work with their own data as a data type, Microsoft is overhauling Excel. While Microsoft has already added dynamic arrays and few custom stocks and geography data types, the firm is now redesigning Excel to let users import their own data as a custom data type.

So users will now be able to manipulate data in Excel in new ways and probably without much of the inconvenience that exists today. Data types will also give one more confidence in the data that the person is viewing in addition to the flexibility.

For example, one can import the data type for Seattle and then generate a formula that references that single cell to pull out data on the population of Seattle. If the data type updates, the results of the formula will update too.

Excel users have already been using Microsoft’s spreadsheet tool for decades to import, organise, and analyse data, but the basic data types have always been limited to text and numbers.

Under this change, the data types work by cramming a set of structured data into a single cell in Excel that can then be referenced by the rest of the spreadsheet. Meanwhile, the data can also be refreshed to keep it up to date.

If you are a student who is researching the periodic table, for example, you could create a cell for each element and easily pull out individual data from there.

According to a statement issued by Microsoft, the company is bringing over 100 new data types into Excel for Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscribers. Following this, Excel users will be able to track stocks, pull in nutritional information for dieting plans, and much more, thanks to data from Wolfram Alpha’s service. This is currently available for Office beta testers in the Insiders programme.

Data types offer you key advantages

Data types are rich, going well beyond numbers and strings—just one cell value can contain a deep collection of hierarchical data, references to other data types, images, and intelligent actions. They are also connected and can point to live services providing data that can be refreshed at any time.

This means data types offer you two key advantages over the old way of working with data, flexibility, and confidence.

The advantage Excel has over any other data or analytical tool is its flexibility. Until now, to get a value in a cell you either wrote a formula or typed the value directly into a cell.

One cell, one value. If you wanted another value, you repeated the process; filling up the grid with a mix of disconnected data and helper cells.

With data types, that all changes. Now a cell can contain a vibrant data type; one cell, a world of possibilities.

Data types allow you to bring the data you care about into the grid, in its most natural form and unleash the power of Excel to gain critical insights. With data types, a single cell value can have a live connected set of information you can quickly pull into your decision-making process, without needing to constantly go back to the original source to find more information. Leverage the card view to see more information on that data type, and navigate through to related information.

That additional information can be used in the formulas you write, charts you create, it can even be used to change how you sort and filter. This will allow you to build more vibrant spreadsheets, faster, with robust attributed data, and have less chance of error.

In addition to the flexibility, data types also give you more confidence in the data you are viewing. Avoid the risks of copy and paste errors.

Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with Mint. Download our App Now!!

Edit Profile
My ReadsRedeem a Gift CardLogout