Nebula Research and Development

FAQ for NebulaXLite

1. What's the support policy for this product?

2.What is "Lite" about NebulaXLite?

3. What else can I do with SpreadsheetML?

4. What if I want a feature that isn't included or scheduled as an enhancement?

5. Why not just give users a CSV file and let them format it on their own?

What's the support policy for this product?

Our public forum is available for How-To questions, suggestions for enhancements, and bug reports. We enter all change requests into our tracking system, which is available for all MV users to see Please e-mail for access. Minor releases containing only bug fixes are available for all licensed systems. Enhancements are only provided in major release updates. More information regarding upgrades to major releases will be posted when available.

What is "Lite" about NebulaXLite?

The original SpreadsheetML specification was created for Excel 2003, but did not support all features in Excel. NebulaXLite, as the name implies, is a product which is intended to support just a limited subset of Excel functionality, and a subset of the SpreadsheetML spec itself. NebulaXLite includes features which are useful to the majority of Excel document consumers, with a commensurately simple BASIC interface to make it easy for developers to use. NebulaXLite does not support many advanced features of Excel 2003 or Excel 2007 (Office 12) including:

  • charts and graphs
  • pivot tables
  • Office Open XML
  • macros, templates, or add-ins

Enhancements made to NebulaXLite will include features that are both requested by licensed users, and within the capabilities of SpreadsheetML for Excel 2003. Support for Excel 2007 will be driven by significant demand.

What else can I do with SpreadsheetML?

In addition to many Microsoft resources, you can get the XML Reference Schemas here for SpreadsheetML, WordprocessingML, and other document formats. This is the spec by which we decide if feature requests can be implemented, and the spec we use to implement those features. With that information you can augment the documents produced by NebulaXLite. Modification of XML is easily done in Pick BASIC, which is well suited to this sort of string manipulation. You could consider NebulaXLite as the first step in generating much more complex documents that suit your specific needs.

What if I want a feature that isn't included or scheduled as an enhancement?

We will do the best we can to implement all possible enhancements on a reasonable time schedule. For features that we do not provide "now" or do not plan to provide, NebulaXLite includes an option for plug-ins. Anyone can provide a plug-in for free to other licensed users, or for a fee that they determine for themselves. Nebula R&D will offer to sell and distribute these plug-ins.

So for example, if you want a quick way to code a What-If scenario (that's not in the plans yet), someone can write the code, make it available by any means they wish, and we will make it available on our site at the author's request.

For more complex needs, consider that this Lite product simply may not be suitable. Nebula R&D can work with you to provide much more complex Excel functionality to your users. For example, dynamic updates with Excel reaching into the MV DBMS for new data, merges of new data into existing workbooks, or charts which cannot be created as described above.

Why not just give users a CSV file and let them format it on their own?

When end-users ask for a solution and they get an answer, they assume the answer is the best one they can get. When a user gets a CSV file in response to a request for Excel, they assume this must be all that's possible from their MV environment. Especially in companies with Pick / MultiValue business applications, on a daily basis people see character screens and plain printed reports, so they don't expect much more from their poor old computer system. (By the way, to deal with the problem of plain reports, please take a look at PrintWizard.) When people expect plain and simple, and that's all they get, they come to assume that this is all that's possible. They might tell their families that their computer is prehistoric. They (may) complain to their management (rarely the I.T. people of course) that they're wasting precious time in document formatting.

Eventually some knight in shining armor saves the day - completely replacing the old fossil server with something new, colorful, and often very expensive. . The MV developers stammer "but...we could have done that!" Alas, the point is the MV developers didn't do that, and that's why they're now out looking for jobs. But this little dramatization need not play out in a real office (though it has many times). The MV DBMS is capable of delivering all of the same user interfaces, reports, and spreadsheets as any other environment.

NebulaXLite is available as just one of many possible solutions to help keep end-users happy, and keep MV developers employed. And that's why we shouldn't rest with giving CSV files to end-users unless that's really what they want.

© 2007 Nebula Research and Development


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