Back in the early 1980's I first learned spreadsheets on
VisiCalc and I worked on some of the first relational databases on the IBM
As a database professional, I'm often asked
about whether it makes sense to use Excel spreadsheets as a database. The
answer is that it depends on the nature of your data and application.
Using an Excel spreadsheet makes sense when the data is static and rarely
changing. I've created extremely complex financial spreadsheets using
database information that was downloaded into Excel using spreadsheet database
interface tools like Excel-DB.
Windows Vista and Excel 2007 are supported environments for Excel-DB.
In the world of data analytics where historical (read immutable)
data is consolidated, it makes sense to use Excel as a database. Let's
take a closer look at using Excel as a database.
The reality of many end-users is that they do not have the
time nor the desire to investigate OLAP interfaces into relational databases,
and these business intelligence offerings are both expensive and cumbersome.
If you data is static and making a one-way trip into your spreadsheet, using
Excel as a database makes sense. The trick is to find a tool that will
easily allow for data access.
I rarely endorse vendor
products, but I've been very impressed with Excel-DB as an Excel database
interface. Once installed, Excel-DB customized the Excel menus and allow
you to extract database information at lightening speed.
I've been using Excel-DB for almost ten years now, and it's great
to be able to enter a SQL query into a spreadsheet cell and just click a few
buttons to execute the SQL and pop the database information right into Excel.
Excel-DB has real-time demos to show just how easy it is to make your Excel into
Updating your database from Excel
One onerous problem with using Excel as a database is having
the ability to take your changed data and upload it back into the database.
Excel-DB allows you to update the database, and it also allows you to take
confidential spreadsheet data and upload it to the database for secure data
sharing. You can see an online example of updating a database from Excel
here. (Turn-on your PC speaker):
Update the database from the spreadsheet
Excel database demonstrations
These real-time demos show how to turn your Excel database
into a full business intelligence tool and it also shows you how to consolidate
data into Excel from a variety of databases, including Oracle, MySQL and SQL
Note: Turn-on your PC speakers, as
these are talking video demonstrations of Excel database access:
In sum, it makes sense to use Excel as a database platform and
you can use Excel-DB to quickly database-enable any Excel spreadsheet.
Excel-DB is also inexpensive (only $395 per seat) and they offer a
10-day free download.