This is a great topic I was planning to write on for a while and now that the Excel team has officially done a great series of posts on the topic, I figured it’s time to give my 2 cents. Again if you have never heard of Web App and in particular Excel please read these few recent posts: http://blogs.msdn.com/excel/
- Excel Web App 2010 Overview
- Editing in Excel Web App – Part I
- Editing in Excel Web App – Part II
- Project 2010: Business Intelligence Overview
- Microsoft Project 2010 Welcomes Project Web App!
So how does Excel Web App fit into a Project Server 2010 deployment? Some ideas that spring to mind:
- capturing financial data
- capturing metadata (custom fields/ lookup table…)
- capturing project status (actually use that internally to track customers that are currently deploying Project Server 2010)
I’m sure you can come up with a lot more scenarios. Typically once the data has been captured you can either “paste” it in a Project Custom Field for instance or use both Excel Services API and the Project Server PSI to automate data transfer/workflow/validation.
As a reminder Excel Services and Excel Web App are two separate things as summarize on one of the Excel recommended post from above:
Excel Services: Version two of our real-time, interactive, Excel-based reporting and dashboard capabilities which ship as part of SharePoint Server 2010. Also included are APIs which enable rich business application development. Excel Web App: The companion to the Excel client which extends the ability to create, view, edit, and collaborate on Excel workbooks using only a browser.
How about InfoPath? Yes InfoPath 2010 has great enhancements as well but I think Excel Web App might be a better alternative for some of the scenarios mentioned above.
Not to mention other enhancements of Excel 2010 such as support for REST, never heard of this? Check out this great post from Andrew Lavinsky - Document Automation with the REST.API. Must read blog post about Excel Services and its extensibility is this one: Summary – new programmability capabilities in Excel Services, just amazing how far you can go and potentially nail you customer’s business needs with a little of code and Excel …!
Bottom line, similar to all the great reporting options we have in 2010, Excel Web App (in addition to Excel Services which is required in project Server 2010) brings another set of capabilities to a Project Server deployment. Stay tune for more information on this subject (a white paper maybe :)).