One of the projects we are funding is the development of a number of interactive Excel documents to support an open finance textbook in our collection. These types of projects are fun to do, and they enhance an existing resource by adding interactivity to the book. This makes the book more attractive for adoption by faculty.
The author has been developing a number of interactive charts using Excel. The idea being, you change a value and the chart changes. Excel is the software of choice in business, so it makes sense to develop these activities in Excel. Now, there is nothing wrong with having students download the spreadsheets and work on them on their own computer. But the author is looking for a way to try to enable the interactivity to happen within the browser.
After a bit of digging around I discovered that Microsoft OneDrive has the ability to embed Office documents within a webpage. The instructions on how to embed content also say that, “readers can sort, filter, and calculate data, right there in your post”. Sounds like the ticket to me.
So, I uploaded one of the interactive Excel spreadsheets the author sent me to OneDrive, followed the embed instructions and voila…
…an interactive Excel spreadsheet embedded into a post.
I tested this in Chrome, Firefox and IE and it seems to work. Change a value in the yellow column and the chart below it updates. The other columns stay locked, which is how the faculty coded them. So, the behaviour of the sheet seems to be intact.
The embedded interface also gives students the option to download a copy of the original file (so they can retain and work on it in Excel on their desktop, if they choose), or open up the document within Excel on the web using the icons in the bottom right of the embed window.
However, while it works well in the browser, the embedded spreadsheet doesn’t give me much love on my Nexus tablet or Android phone, and the Pressbooks output formats (ePub, PDF and mobi) don’t like the embed code much, leaving big blank spaces in those outputs. So, there is still that hurdle to cross to find an elegant way to make those work. But so far, I’m pretty happy to have found this as it gives students the option to interact with the data in real time on the website version of the book, or download and keep the interactive Excel spreadsheet. All while allowing faculty to work in a tool that they feel comfortable with.