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Need to read MV data from Excel? Read about NebulaXChange!

Technical people frequently respond to "I want an Excel spreadsheet" with "Here is a CSV file."

But end-users are not talking about this:
They want this:
CSV File
Click here to see larger image.
Click here to see larger image.

"Minutes after I read your ad, I was called in by management to discuss how we can create spreadsheets directly from our database. They were tired of having to import into Excel. I downloaded the demo, and had spreadsheets being generated by the following morning ... they love it! I have since added the option to most of the key reports management uses. ... The most worthwhile $200 we've spent! Well documented and easy to use. Keep up the great work!"
- David Gordon, Information Manager, CardPak Inc.

I.T. people assume it's OK to provide a CSV file in response to a request for Excel. But many Excel users, even those who just want basic formatting, will spend many hours each week reformatting plain data that they get from their I.T. department - and often the I.T. people have no idea this is happening. Go ahead - ask your end-users what they do with the CSV files you give them.

So when your users ask for an Excel spreadsheet, give them one that's ready to use without post-processing.

It's said that 80% of end-users only use 20% of the features in Excel - sometimes only colors and font changes. But there's a major gap between a completely unformatted CSV file and even the small subset of features that a typical end-user needs.

You can create real Excel workbooks which include:

  • multiple spreadsheets
  • column widths and row heights, defined or autofit to data
  • merged cells
  • formatted data values
  • formulas with absolute or relative addressing
  • colors, fonts, patterns, borders, and other style detail images
  • comments
  • ...and other features that people have come to expect out of the Microsoft Excel application.

Documents created by NebulaXLite work with OpenOffice and Google Docs too!

"I originally thought NebulaXLite might be a nice tool to have but not much beyond that. We get asked for a lot of information, invoices, and reports from hospital administrators, practice managers, and physicians. The common theme is that they all want their reports in a spreadsheet because that is what they are used to dealing with. I did not realize how much time our staff was spending generating CSV files and then manipulating that data to make it palatable to the data consumers. Since we installed NebulaXLite I've been getting almost daily emails from both staff and outside consumers that are receiving the spreadsheets from NebulaXLite now, and they all love them. The staff loves them because it has taken a tedious 3 step process and made it one step. The outside folks love them because they are so much more usable and attractive. It's become a real cost effective, time saving tool for us in a short time."
- Steven P Douglas, Medical Billing Management Sytems

How? At the core of NebulaXLite is a Pick BASIC subroutine, callable from your own code, so any MultiValue application can generate rich Excel workbooks with attractive content.

Many years ago we offered NebulAnalysis which allowed definition of very complex spreadsheets. It included charts, graphs, pivot tables, and many of the other 80% of Excel features that most people don't use. The decision was made to scale back and offer a simpler product that just did what most people need.

The new NebulaXLite creates SpreadsheetML - an XML document with a good deal of formatting, but not "the whole enchillada". When saved as a .XLS file, this document will open as an attractive and fully functional Excel workbook with one or more spreadsheets.

The following image shows a simple but attractive Excel workbook, completely generated with NebulaXLite.

Click image to open spreadsheet!
NebulaXLite Workbook
Click here to see larger image.

That spreadsheet was created with a Pick BASIC (DataBASIC) program - the entire source for which is provided here.

NebulaXLite does much more than just decorate your data:

  • Metadata fields include Company Name, Keywords, and Document Title, Description, and Category.
  • Care is taken to ensure Date and Time data are properly stored in GMT/Zulu format.
  • Default GMT offset from server is stored in the document.
  • Default printing specs are embedded in the document.
  • Each spreadsheet has a name. (CSV doesn't even permit multiple sheets...)
  • The generating program can set the active spreadsheet and cell which will be visible when the document is first opened.
  • Units are properly converted among Points, Pixels, and Inches.
  • Default masks are provided for common Date and Time values.
  • Other common constant values are defined to minimize development and runtime errors.
  • And you may notice from the image above that documents can be opened and manipulated in a browser too.

Once the XML is returned to the application code, the developer is free to continue to change it before saving it to the host OS as a .XLS file.

NebluaXLite was written to run in most or all MV DBMS environments, can be run over any Windows or *nix Operating System and -

NebulaXLite doesn't even need Excel anywhere in the environment!

That's right - since we're generating XML, the only person who needs Excel is the person viewing the finished document.

Nebula Research and Development offers a free NebulaXLite trial license to developers. The trial software is fully functional but all trial licenses have an expiry date stated on the download page.

More information can be found in the NebulaXLite FAQ.


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