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Excel 2013 - Task Pane vs. Content Window RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    We have an existing COM application that utilizes a task pane in Excel 2010.  We are considering moving this to the new world of Apps for Office.  I have seen that Excel (desktop client) supports both Content and Task Panes while Excel Web Apps only supports Content panes.  To give us the most flexibility we would obviously like to just go with a Content pane.  However, it may not make sense given functionality.  So I hav 2 questions:

    1. Can someone tell me if adding Task Pane support for Excel Web Apps is in the plan and just didn't make this beta release cut.  If not, is it in the roadmap for the next release?

    2. Is there a guide to discuss when you should use a Content pane vs. a Task pane?   

    Thanks.

    Alan


    My Ramblings @ http://alanwhitehouse.wordpress.com and My Tweets @ http://www.twitter.com/alanwhitehouse

    Friday, July 20, 2012 1:35 PM

Answers

  • Alan - great questions. Right now we don't have immediate plans to have task pane support in the Excel Web App, however it is on the roadmap for future release. To build an app that spans both Excel and Excel Web App I recommend focusing on content apps.

    Content apps and task pane apps both have access to the same api, but can behave a little differently, not an exhaustive list but things that come to mind:

    1. Down-level Story - we place a picture of the content app as of last save in the workbook for downlevel and off-platform usage - this can be useful for data visualization scenarios (this requires that the developer allows snapshots, otherwise we use a stock image), we don't save a picture for task panes.

    2. Printing - only content apps participate in printing

    3. Zooming - only content apps participate in document zoom

    4. Locking - only task pane apps can be locked (to prevent the user accidentally closing the task pane in a template document and not knowing how to add it back - the user must unlock the task pane before closing it)

    5. Show Saved Image - this is a content app feature - the scenario being that you set up your cool data visualization and then save, set this option on the app and then send the doc to people who will just want to see the picture (and won't be making changes that will need it to be redrawn)

    Hope this helps...pc


    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 9:16 PM

All replies

  • Hello Alan,

    Great choice to move to apps for Office :)

    1. Unfortunately, we can't commit to a specific timeframe or deliverables. With that said, we do plan to enable apps and app types in more Office applications going forward. Also, symmetry across Office applications and across different platforms (desktop, web, mobile) is super important to us and going forward we will keep investing in a unified experience everywhere apps are running!

    2. Taskpane and content apps traget different user scenario. We touch on this in the developer documentaiton (Overview of apps for Office ), but can include more specific guidelines. Thanks for your feedback! In general, taskpane apps are shown side-by-side with the document and enhance the document authoring and viewing experience by providing contextual information and functionalities to the user (think product lookup or a translation app). Content apps, on the other hand, appear in line with the document and allow users to integrate content as part of the document (think rich visualization apps, such maps). Based on the goals and user scenarios tageted by your app, you should consider which one makes more sense to use.

    Thanks,

    Hila Shemer

    Program Manager, Office Solutions Framework

    Friday, July 20, 2012 6:47 PM
  • Hi Hila,

    I understand you can't comment on future product features.  My question was mostly if this was supposed to be in the beta and didn't make the cut for this release or it never was going to make a 2013 release.

    In regards to #2.  We are looking to get complete portability of our application between Desktop and Excel Web Apps.  Traditionally our model would fit more into the Task Pane mode -- however that means we can't support Excel Web Apps with it.  So although the two functions are targeted to have different uses, is there anything a Task pane can do that you couldn't do in a Content pane and vice-versa from a technical perspective?

    Alan


    My Ramblings @ http://alanwhitehouse.wordpress.com and My Tweets @ http://www.twitter.com/alanwhitehouse

    Friday, July 20, 2012 6:52 PM
  • Alan - great questions. Right now we don't have immediate plans to have task pane support in the Excel Web App, however it is on the roadmap for future release. To build an app that spans both Excel and Excel Web App I recommend focusing on content apps.

    Content apps and task pane apps both have access to the same api, but can behave a little differently, not an exhaustive list but things that come to mind:

    1. Down-level Story - we place a picture of the content app as of last save in the workbook for downlevel and off-platform usage - this can be useful for data visualization scenarios (this requires that the developer allows snapshots, otherwise we use a stock image), we don't save a picture for task panes.

    2. Printing - only content apps participate in printing

    3. Zooming - only content apps participate in document zoom

    4. Locking - only task pane apps can be locked (to prevent the user accidentally closing the task pane in a template document and not knowing how to add it back - the user must unlock the task pane before closing it)

    5. Show Saved Image - this is a content app feature - the scenario being that you set up your cool data visualization and then save, set this option on the app and then send the doc to people who will just want to see the picture (and won't be making changes that will need it to be redrawn)

    Hope this helps...pc


    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 9:16 PM
  • 5. Show Saved Image - this is a content app feature - the scenario being that you set up your cool data visualization and then save, set this option on the app and then send the doc to people who will just want to see the picture (and won't be making changes that will need it to be redrawn)

    I have multiple Content apps in a Powerpoint presentation. The apps need to be shown as an image before distributing the presentation to the wider audience group. As mentioned above, the way to do this is by clicking 'Show as Saved Image' menu item in the context menu of the app. But with multiple add-ins in the document, this is a very tedious process as this will have to be done repeatedly and manually on each content app. Is there a solution to implement 'show as saved image' on all the apps in the document in a single step / click?

    Desperately looking for a solution. Thanks for any help.

    Friday, November 13, 2015 5:38 PM