Microsoft SharePoint

Co-Authoring in Excel 2010: Not Supported (Use the Excel Web App Instead)

Following on from my post about co-authoring in Word 2010, Joseph from Microsoft recently published the Excel equivalent: Collaborative Editing Using Excel Web App.

The goal of the collaboration work we did in Excel Web App was to remove the “locked file” experience from users’ workflow in collaborative scenarios and enable interesting new ways for people to work together around spreadsheets. There are still times when locking a file for exclusive access is the desired behavior, and SharePoint enables that through checkout. I look forward to hearing about your experiences using these features in your own work. If you have any feedback around how you’d like to see us improve this area going forward, feel free to leave us a comment.

Some notes from Joseph’s blog post:
– as with Word 2010, multiple people can open and edit the SAME spreadsheet at the same time.
– as with Word 2010, you have in-spreadsheet notification of presence (who has the spreadsheet open).
– co-authoring in Excel 2010 is ONLY for the Excel Web App, not for the Excel 2010 client itself. We’ll have to wait for the next wave of Office to get Excel client co-authoring options.
– as unlike Word 2010, changes are made in real-time, at the cell level, whenever a change is made. This is because the Excel Web App saves continously, so changes are sent continuously.

My thoughts about this:
– it’s good to see this new capability.
– the lack of Excel 2010 client support is … work-aroundable. It’s a button click within Excel 2010 to transition the spreadsheet to the Excel Web App, so in conjunction with an IM session to send the file link to a collaborator, it will work.
– because Excel “the client” 2010 will not show collaborative authors, I’m unsure what happens if one person has the spreadsheet open in Excel “the client” 2010 and another person has it open in the Excel Web App. The client guy will feel perplexed if the web gal is making changes that are showing up (at some point) in the file he is working with.

Update November 2017
A lot has changed since I wrote this in February 2010. Please see the 2017 update on co-authoring in Excel.

4 replies »

  1. Thanks for the blog post. When you attempt to open a document in a webapp that doesn’t support coauthoring or a full version(client) that doesn’t support coauthoring, you’ll receive a file open error. At least that is our experience with using Word client and trying to open the same document using Word Web App.
    While I am pleased to see coauthoring being added, Microsoft really has got to get it so that both the Office Web Apps and the Full Client Office support coauthoring across versions. Right now coauthoring is a hot topic for our Administrators and Microsoft not having a consistent solution in this space is going to push our users to implement solutions like Google Docs on their own. Regardless of privacy and security risks associated with it.
    The fact that the Excel 2010 client can’t coauthor but the Excel Web App can is just as confusing as the fact that the Word 2010 client can coauthor but the Word Web App cannot. I hope that a service pack and web update will soon add these missing features. ;^D

  2. It’s crazy they flipped for Excel. All that effort to build the Web App, why not take a slice of it and just get co-authoring working in Excel desktop? You know, the one that people actually love and that MS gets paid for?