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Office 2003 XML by Evan Lenz, Mary McRae, Simon St. Laurent

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Loading XML into an Excel Spreadsheet

There are several different ways to load XML data into Excel. Some are useful mostly for quick exploration and maybe some editing, while others are more appropriate for creating spreadsheets that use XML as a data source that can be easily replaced with new data whenever appropriate. All of these mechanisms share a common approach for showing XML data in the spreadsheet, so it’s worth taking a moment to examine how Excel handles XML structures before moving into the mechanics of importing data.

When Excel opens an XML file, it imports data from it. If you make changes to the XML file while Excel is working with the data it has imported from that file, changes to the XML will not be reflected in the Excel spreadsheet.

Tables and Trees

Excel, like all spreadsheets, is built on a grid. Information is organized into rows and columns, and this worksheet grid (as well as relationships among multiple worksheet grids in a workbook) is used to create cross-references between different sections of information. Within the grid, Excel is enormously flexible. Information doesn’t have to follow neat table structures—pricing data could, if desired, run diagonally down a spreadsheet. It’s easier to work with ranges of information if it stays in a single row or column, though, so most spreadsheets combine table areas that contain raw data and then either tables of results or cells along the fringes of the tables.

XML has no built-in notion of a grid. While it’s ...

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