Spreadsheet to app: Turn your Excel spreadsheet file into an app in 1 minute

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Spreadsheet to App in Less Than a Minute. Seriously.

/ June 11, 2019
Blowing up spreadsheets

Spreadsheets: we all love them. They’re pretty easy to start and can help you structure your thoughts and your data in a straightforward way. But beyond that, things can get messy with data integrity and versioning problems. That amazing spreadsheet you made? Now it’s the bane of people’s existence.

That’s not a problem anymore. This week, we’ve launched Mendix Studio’s latest capability: starting an app based on a spreadsheet. Within minutes and a few simple actions, you can turn your spreadsheet into a secure running app and you don’t have to bug IT to do it.

The perfect spreadsheet, the perfect problem.

Suppose you’ve just created a spreadsheet that holds essential data for your team to make decisions. You’ve either exported it from an existing IT system, collected the data manually, or dumped the legacy database your predecessor built into a spreadsheet format. Your spreadsheet runs nicely and shows exactly what you want it to. You are happy, your teammates are happy, and your boss is impressed by the increase in efficiency of your team’s operations. Everyone lives happily ever after!

 

and they lived happily ever after

 

Until they don’t.

What starts with a simple ‘data.xlsx’ morphs quickly into ‘data v1.xlsx’ and then ‘data final.xlsx’. Then, ‘data final v2.xlsx’ pops up, followed by ‘Copy of data final v2 – edits Mike.xlsx’. And worse – all of these spreadsheets will land in your inbox at the same time! Soon, your team will spend half of their valuable time figuring out if they’re looking at the latest data or not and copying data between sheets to hopefully collect all relevant data. Your dream-come-true ending is now your worst nightmare.

 

This is the worst thing that could ever happen

 

Add to that the situation in which the clever person on your team that built the spreadsheet has moved on to another role. Now what worked well at first is showing complicated errors, data gets corrupted, and there’s no one there to solve it.

And what do you do when your team members want to use your spreadsheet on their mobile devices or want to the spreadsheet to hold images and files?

Hear me well, I’m not trying to bash any spreadsheet lovers out there — I will happily use a spreadsheet myself as input to make a decision. What I do know though, is that teams, departments, and companies have relied on their collection of spreadsheets for far too long to run their business processes. At Mendix, we wanted to change that.

What if you could convert your spreadsheet into an app in minutes?

We believe that you, your team, and your company would be far better served with a web app rather than a spreadsheet to support your daily operations.

But a web app means that you have to queue up to get time from the professional developers in the IT department, which takes their time away from (probably) far more important work. In reality, you’re left empty-handed and you’re left to continue using your spreadsheets. This flies directly in the face of your company (or any other for that matter) who wish to be in control of their data across departments and with customers and suppliers.

With Mendix Studio, you can drag and drop your spreadsheet into Mendix Studio and it’ll produce a web app in a minute.

Furthermore, you can immediately share this app with others to streamline the data management process and avoid the spreadsheet pitfalls we explored above. No more flooded inboxes. No more versioning problems.

Also, you are free to extend the app with your own logic using visual microflows, add dashboard pages, differentiate what different users see and tailor the app to match your processes in the best possible way.

To see it in action, watch this video of the announcement at Mendix World 2019.

Sure… but how does converting my Excel file into an app work?

After you drag and drop your .xlsx file to Mendix Studio, it inspects your spreadsheet and the data in it, and then generates an app based on what it has found.

More specifically, based on your spreadsheet, Mendix Studio:

  • Generates a domain model and data management pages
  • Packages your data and imports it into the running app
  • Looks for repetitions in the data in your spreadsheet
  • Searches for relations between the data in your spreadsheet
  • Protects the data from the get-go, because the app is secured when published from Mendix Studio

To get going, simply choose the ‘App from spreadsheet’ banner when creating a new app.

 

start an app from a spreadsheet

 

For detailed information on how this works, please see our reference guide documentation.

And how does moving from spreadsheets to apps help?

This new feature gives you a jump start with a very smooth and fast experience, saving you from the multiple hours of basic and repetitive work to build a data management app. Even if you’re a professional developer this can get you started easily, smoothly moving into the more advanced features of Studio Pro to extend the app.

Moreover, your team processes will be better supported because you’ll avoid the many pitfalls of spreadsheet-run processes. No more spreadsheet chaos – instead you’re creating a streamlined, differentiated experience for all people involved that helps get the job done a lot more easily.

And perhaps most importantly, this allows you to implement long-lasting and sustainable improvements in the way your team, department and company operate.

Vanquish the ordinary spreadsheet, and live happily ever after with a powerful and flexible Mendix app!

Start converting your spreadsheets into apps… now!

Every user in Mendix Studio can now create apps from spreadsheets. Go ahead, try it for yourself and get your first app out in one minute. Simply signup for free.

If you already have an account, all you have to do is create an app and select your spreadsheet to get going. There is no need to upgrade: all new capabilities are there so you can just Go make it.

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