This page provides an overview of how the AnalysisPlace Excel-to-Word Document Automation Add-In updates Word and PowerPoint content.
How it Works – 3 Update Scenarios
The image below illustrates how the add-in updates documents for each of the 3 update scenarios:
Prior to updating content, the documents must be “linked”.
Update Word Document
The add-in can update Word documents directly within Word. Dynamic/linked content is contained within Content Controls.
Process to obtain the source (Excel) data and update it within Word:
- In Excel, when the user clicks “Submit Content”, the Add-In obtains all Linked content (text, tables, and charts). The “Linked” content refers to all named ranges and charts with names that start with the designated prefix.
- The content is then temporarily stored in a secure database on an AnalysisPlace server, so it can be available to the destination (Word) document. Subsequent updates overwrite previous data for that user.
- In Word, when the user clicks “Update Document”, the Add-In retrieves the content and updates the Linked content (in Content Controls)
Update PowerPoint Document
PowerPoint does not have the ability to update documents on the user’s PC, so the documents must be updated on our reporting server.
Process to obtain the source (Excel) data, update a copy of the PowerPoint document, and return it to the user:
- Same as above, in Excel, user clicks “Submit Content” to obtain linked content
- Same as above, content is stored on the server, so it is available to PowerPoint
- In PowerPoint, the add-in retrieves the content
- In PowerPoint, the add-in makes a copy of the open PowerPoint document, then submits it along with the source content to the AnalysisPlace reporting server
- The reporting server updates the PowerPoint document based on the source content and provides a URL link to the updated file
- The user downloads the updated PowerPoint document from a “Download Report” button in the add-in
Cloud reports are currently only available with Enterprise subscriptions. Cloud reports update customer-created templates that are stored on the server. The reports are managed by designated customer administrators.
- In Excel, user selects the desired report from a drop-down list, then clicks “Create Report”
- The Add-In obtains the linked Excel content, this is submitted to the reporting server
- The server creates a copy of the Word/PowerPoint template, then updates the content based on the source Excel data. It provides a URL link to the file.
- The user downloads and opens the updated Word or PowerPoint document
AnalysisPlace Add-Ins Infrastructure
The AnalysisPlace Excel-to-Word Document Automation Add-In is comprised of 3 main infrastructure components:
1. Public Website
The AnalysisPlace.com website provides product information and manages user registration.
- The website contains information about AnalysisPlace products and services
- The website and associated database is hosted by Managed.com
- It uses a secure and well-established Content Management System (DotNetNuke)
- It manages User Registration and account changes, such as account deletions and password resets
- Registration requires email validation to ensure validity
- It securely stores user credentials. Passwords are stored in a standard encrypted format (hashed with SALT), making the passwords unreadable, even if hacked.
- Subscription purchases are managed by PayPal (AnalysisPlace does not see or handle payment information). Users manage and cancel subscriptions via their PayPal accounts.
2. Office Add-Ins (Run in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word)
Microsoft Office Add-Ins Overview
- The Add-Ins run in a Microsoft-Office-controlled browser. On Office for Windows, the browser is IE11. On Office for Mac, the browser is WebKit. For Office Online, the browser can be any supported browser.
- Add-ins run within a browser and have capabilities and limitations similar to a browser. Additionally, add-ins are able to interact with the Microsoft Office document they are opened with using a Microsoft Office API (Application Programming Interface) called Office.js.
- Add-ins are “installed” via the Microsoft Office Store (App Store)
- Add-Ins can only read and modify the document they are opened with
- Add-ins can use web services to send/receive information over the Internet
- Add-Ins do not have access to the user’s operating or file systems (same limitations as a browser)
- Office Add-ins platform overview: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/dev/add-ins/overview/office-add-ins
AnalysisPlace Add-Ins overview
AnalysisPlace has developed the Excel-to-Word Document Automation Add-In to run in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. The add-in can read and write to Office documents via Microsoft Office APIs (Office.js).
The add-ins use a web service to send and receive customer data to/from AnalysisPlace servers
The add-ins store basic customer information (including email address and an authentication token) on browser storage (similar to a cookie). The add-in never stores user passwords on the client computer.
The add-in performs the following types of operations:
- Reads range values and obtains chart image data in Excel and submits this data to the AnalysisPlace API. This data is stored temporarily so it is available to Word and PowerPoint.
- Enables users to sign into the add-in (enables more features and usage based on subscription)
- Obtains “Submitted” data from the AnalysisPlace API in Word and PowerPoint
- Uses Microsoft’s Office.js API to update Word documents
- Helps to “Link” content and displays information about content that is linked
- Displays usage information (e.g. number of updates month-to-date and % of maximum usage)
- Team/Enterprise versions also allow a customer administrator to configure/manage features and report templates for their users.
3. AnalysisPlace API (Application Programming Interface)
The AnalysisPlace APIs (and associated database) are hosted on Microsoft Azure and perform the following types of operations:
- Control communication with the add-ins via encrypted web services
- Temporarily stores Add-In content data. Content data is automatically deleted daily and is not backed up or transferred elsewhere.
- Validates user credentials when users sign into the add-in. Credentials are validated via encrypted web services that connect to the AnalysisPlace website registration system. User passwords are not stored on the client or on the API server.
- Logs user usage data (e.g. size and count of updates). Calculate user usage by month based on logged usage
- Update PowerPoint documents and create cloud reports (Word and PowerPoint)