Sparklines for XL 2007 - Update

Gustavo posted and update of the XL 2007 sparklines add-in.

It solves some minor bugs and adds AeraChart to the chart list.

The file is available HERE and on SourceForge.

Installer for pre-release of v3.4 for XL 2003

For the next release of Sparklines, I plan to use an installer to make things easier, just like Gustavo did for the XL 2007 add-in :

The installer approach has several advantages :
  • Several files packaged in one :
- The sparklines add-in (*.xla)
- The stand-alone version (*.xls)
- The color codes table in pdf
- The sparklines manual (permanent draft...)
  • Possibility to choose the install directory
- This should help if you do not have admin rights to install in certain directories or in citrix.
  • An optional shortcut can be created in your Desktop menu (or on the desktop)
  • Creation of an Uninstall file
  • Easy upgrade of new versions
- If a new package is installed, files are overwritten.
- As the add-in is already registered in XL, the upgrade should be transparent

A downside too :
  • Users will have to declare manually the add-in in Excel (not a big deal though...)

If you want to give it a try, the installer for pre-version 3.4 is available HERE.

New features of pre-v3.4 include :
  • Areachart
  • HorizonChart (as explained here and here et ici et , but no icon so far on the toolbar)
  • Revision of Boxplot (select your set of values, et voila ...)
  • Possibility to deactivate the sparklines formulas (to share files created w/ the add-in)

Nixnut has been dedicating a lot of time to this one, and I struggle to keep up with all the features he is implementing... many thanks to him.

... and still in the pipe for the next releases :
  • Sparkline chooser interface
  • Standalone files creator (as requested by Robert here)
  • Scatter plot chart
  • Updated manual (embeded in the Sparklines Chooser)
  • Recoding of Pareto and Cascade charts

As always,plenty of ideas, but we will just have to find the TIME to do all this !!

Auto-install add-in for Excel 2007

As I am not using XL2007, Gustavo from Buenos Aires (Argentina) brings a great contribution to the Sparklines for Excel project : an executable file that will copy the Excel 2007 add-in in a directory of your choice.

The default install directory is : c:\program Files\sparklines

The file is available HERE and HERE on SourceForge.

As Gustavo informed me, in order to use the add-in, you first have to add this install directory in Excel's "Trusted Zone":
  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Excel Options.
  2. Click Trust Center, click Trust Center Settings, and then click Trusted Locations.
  3. If you want to create a trusted location that is not local to your computer, select the Allow trusted locations on my network (not recommended) check box.
  4. Click Add new location.

    Important We recommended that you don't make your entire Documents or My Documents folder a trusted location. Doing so creates a larger target for a hacker to potentially exploit and increases your security risk. Create a subfolder within Documents or My Documents, and make only that folder a trusted location.

  5. In the Path box, type the name of the folder that you want to use as a trusted location, or click Browse to locate the folder.
  6. If you want to include subfolders as trusted locations, select the Subfolders of this location are also trusted check box.
  7. In the Description box, type what you want to describe the purpose of the trusted location.
  8. Click OK.

Sparklines gallery file on Clearly and Simply

Robert posted a on his blog "Clearly and Simply" an XL demo file of Sparklines.

This file (based on an XL2003 version) gives additional information regarding the different types of Boxplot and SpreadChart.
The file is available here and a PDF version here.

Thanks again Robert for your contribution to the project !

New templates from Argentina

Matias is sharing from Argentina 2 colorful sets of Excel templates using sparklines.

Click on the images to download the files.


You can't start a fire without a spark - Episode 1

I already mentionned Robert's blog "Clearly and Simply" in an earlier post.
Once again I must recommand you have a look at the great dashboard templates on his blog and an excellent 6 parts tutorial on Chandoo's blog.

Robert just posted a review of Sparklines for Excel, where he describes the pros and cons of the Sparklines User Defined Functions.

Here is his conclusion :
"Sparklines for XL are an excellent and cost-free implementation of sparklines. They are easy to understand and easy to use. From my point of view, with Sparklines for XL, Fabrice and Nixnut filled a gap in Excel's chart engine. One gap – among others - Microsoft was not able or willing to fill with Excel 2007.
Nevertheless I strongly recommend to always carefully consider whether or not sparklines are the best choice for your purposes. Sparklines are a great concept, but only in a context where they are appropriate. Sometimes they are the best way to visualize your data, sometimes a simple Excel standard chart will be sufficient and sometimes sparklines are definitely the wrong choice (e.g. if you need quantitative precision). Don't use them just for the sake of having them".
I can only agree with this.
If you have already tried to use sparklines to build a report, you already know that these small chart are just like Lego bricks... to have them working properly, you first have to work on the global architecture of your dashboard and put the right bricks together.
Define the key values to be displayed and prioritize them, organize the layout of the report. If you look for graphically dense information, where comparison is key, Sparklines are a great option. One of the most usefull property of UDF in general, is the ability to copy/paste them across a spreadsheet, just like any formula... and no problem to align them on the grid.

Robert... I am working on your wishlist, and might include this in the next release.

Sparklines v3.3 self standing template

Rado and Govi have requested self standing Sparklines template.

I posted a file that contains all sparklines functions but does not install as an add-in.

The advantage, is that it is easier to share "dynamic" files and you probably can bypass the administrator right for installing a file in the "program files" directory.

Downside ? files are some 500Ko bigger due to the code.

To use the file, download it, rename it, use it as a regular Excel file

The file is available here.

Let me know if any issue.