I quickly wanted to share a nice trick I learned today in Excel 2013. As we all know, visualizing data trumps any text representation hands down. In programming, when we as developers can create useful dashboards we give our applications a definite edge above other competing apps out there. It is no wonder that Excel is so good at charting and visualizing data.
To illustrate this nice trick, open up Office Excel 2013 and enter some random City Names in column A, and dummy sales figures for each city in Column B.
Now if we had to present this list to a manager, it would take a second or two to see which city has the most sales for a given period. Imagine that this list is slightly larger. The data might not be as easy to pick out. What you really need is for the data to jump out at the viewer. Sure, you can sort the data accordingly, but there is a much nicer way. You need your data to be dynamic and visually appeasing. To do this, head on over to the Apps for Office menu item and click on it.
Once you click on Apps for Office, the Apps for Office screen opens up. Under Featured Apps, enter Bing Maps in the search bar and hit enter.
This will launch Internet Explorer and take you to the Bing Maps Add-in for Excel. Best of all, it is totally free. The description of the Bing Maps App is as follows: The Bing Maps app makes it easy to plot locations and visualize your data through Bing Maps in Excel.
Go ahead and add that to Excel. To use Bing Maps in your document, head on over to the Apps for Office screen again, this time selecting My Apps and clicking on Refresh. This will now display your newly added Bing Maps app.
Click on the Bing Maps icon to insert this into your Excel document. Now the real deal breaker for me is how incredibly easy it is for me to set up the visualisation of my data. Once the Maps object is inserted into your Excel Document, simply select your data and click on the Pin icon.
Once you do this, the data represented in your spreadsheet is refreshed in your Bing Maps object. It automatically plots the cities and visually represents the sales data on the Map.
From here on you have options to change the colour of your legend. What is even better is the fact that if you change your sales data, the map object is automatically updated. No need to delete and add the map object again making this a very dynamic way to do projections and what-if analysis. If you have any other Apps for Office you like to use in Excel, let us know in the comments below.