Category Archives: 11929

Keep It Simple? Don’t be Daft!

Keep It Simple? Don’t Be Daft!

I was recently working on a project where we were using SSRS to create XML reports which are then imported into Excel to facilitate further analysis.

Unfortunately, I could not see any option in PowerPivot to connect to an XML source. There is the option for text and RSS, but no XML that I can see. I know I could create an RDL and connect to that, but XML is far more than just SSRS.

I raised this with some colleagues, and one of them pointed me to this Microsoft article, Data Feed XML Syntax. I came away shell-shocked from reading this article. I cannot understand Microsoft’s reasoning here. I thought that RSS used XML as its transport protocol because it (XML) was a recognised data transport standard. RSS may use a particular dialect of XML, that is hardly surprising as it has particular needs, but why would anyone choose to use that dialect for its general XML import? We have a universal standard, and a particular implementation of that standard. So what do Microsoft use in PowerPivot but the RSS specific implementation of XML. Surely, it would have made more sense to build an XML import capability, then modify that for the particular implementation that is RSS.

To create a situation whereby we have write code to change the original XML to conform to some other implementation that is totally irrelevant to our problem is madhouse development. To quote that document … Programmers who use other tools or approaches (such as Microsoft generated XML – my words) will need to know how to structure a valid XML response that can be processed by the data feed reader that is built into the PowerPivot for Excel. This is a long way from my idea of self-service BI.

At times I wonder what planet Microsoft inhabits, it often seems to be a different world to mine. You can (easily) import XML into Excel, so they can do it, have done it. I knew we were in trouble as soon I saw SharePoint mentioned in the article, the bane of Office at the moment is that Microsoft seem intent on subsuming it within SharePoint.

Mr Richard (sorry, I cannot use the name he addresses himself by, this blog sees that as a profanity) Moffatt also makes a an interesting read on Office and SharePoint.

Pride Dispensed, Pride Promised, And Pride To Go







Just got back from London yesterday after the UK
Excel Conference

A successful couple of days I think, we had a large audience,
few no-shows, and a general good time.

As this was organised mainly to avoid disappointing the many
wait-listed people from the previous, April, conference, the agenda was largely
the same as before. We had one new session on ‘Excel as a BI Tool’, which I
think that many delegates found enlightening; to see Excel being used as an
Enterprise reporting tool, querying huge amounts of data very quickly was an

It was good to see the presenters again, and we had a good first evening prior to the conference – at least until Roger persuaded me to have a pint of Timothy Taylor’s which was not nice, especially after the Pride!

As would be expected with an audience of circa 100 people,
we had a mixed bunch. There were some company men/women, some consultants; bankers,
auditors, and tax inspectors; a guy who works for Apple; we even had a pig
consultant – who would have thought that a pig consultant is a big Excel user.

Another good dinner at Zsi-Zsi’s with some of the delegates;
a decent Chardonnay at Ha-Ha’s’ on the last evening; a good meal at a most
unexpected looking Indian restaurant in Victoria that Simon, Andy and I went
to; and good hosting from Microsoft.

 To cap it all, I missed the last train home because I was too busy talking with Simon, I got on the wrong tube line.