Thursday, February 25, 2010

iXBRL - LinkedIn Group

Hi Everyone

I recently attended a product sponsored session on iXBRL and HMRC/Companies House submissions for the UK. I will put together an updated paper on new developments this week but would like to just highlight that I have created a group on LinkedIn called "iXBRL in the UK". This group is specifically designed to address issues that companies are having with the submission of accounts in the format and to discuss not only the process being followed to comply but also a forum to discuss any software solutions that start to make themselves available. Just search for it on LinkedIn and I look forward to any contributions.

- Paul Steynberg

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

PowerPivot Storage

For you hard core techies out there, stop reading now. This post is for those people in the world who had no idea that the Office 2007 (and upwards) files are actually just a bunch of files zipped up. I was curious to see how PowerPivot Data was stored with the Excel spreadsheet and was amazed to find out that a number of my associates were unaware of the make up of the new Excel formats.

In order to illustrate the concept take an Excel (or Word) 2007/2010 file and just to be safe make a copy of it. Then change the file extension from XLSX to ZIP and then open in Winzip. Shock and horror we find a whole bunch of files (mostly XML) in various directory structures. This was done in order to comply with Office Open XML Format. Read all about it here.

Back to the original question about how the PowerPivot Data is stored. It is stored in a directory called xl\customData with the extension DATA within the Excel (zip) file. Here is a bit more on how the data interacts with your memory.

- Paul Steynberg

Monday, February 1, 2010

PowerPivot

Microsoft promised BI for the masses and PowerPivot is the first real taste of this promise. Originally code named Gemini this Excel Add-in was developed by the SQL Server Team. In a nutshell it is SQL Server Analysis Services on your PC. In order to get it up and running you have to have Office 2010 (Beta) installed and XP should be on SP3. Here is a full list of requirements.

I am not going into the full technical bits of the product as this has been done many times before and here is a full list of links to get you up to speed:


Take a look at the demo videos as they are quite quick and really show the power of the product. To illustrate I took a normalised data source and imported 3.5 million rows into PowerPivot in under 2 minutes. I then created a Pivot Table from the data with the new look and feel of having slicers across the top and down the left hand side. The results were blistering fast.

This is a first release and the product is full of bugs. As with most Microsoft products wait for V2 before releasing into your production environment. More to come later.

- Paul Steynberg