zxing barcode generator example c# Part 6: Excel and the Outside World: Collaborating Made Easy in Visual C#.NET

Encoder Quick Response Code in Visual C#.NET Part 6: Excel and the Outside World: Collaborating Made Easy

Part 6: Excel and the Outside World: Collaborating Made Easy
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Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Programming Inside Out
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Communicating with a Web Server
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Within a corporate network, nearly all data transfer takes place using proprietary binary formats, ranging from transferring files to performing remote database queries. Due primarily to security considerations, communication across the Internet has evolved to use textual formats, the simplest being a URL, such as http://mysite.com/mywebpage.html. To communicate with an application running on a Web server, you need to be able to perform some processing on the server and pass information to and receive information from that application. The Workbook object s FollowHyperlink method can be used to communicate with a Web server. There are a few problems with using this method, including the following:
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If an error occurs during the connection, Excel will freeze. Any data returned from the hyperlink is automatically displayed as a new workbook. You have very little control over the communication.
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There are more flexible alternatives provided by the Microsoft Internet Transfer Control, msinet.ocx. This ActiveX control, often referred to as the ITC, is an easy-to-use wrapper for the wininet.dll file, which provides low-level Internet-related services for the Microsoft Windows platform. There are two mechanisms that can be used to send information to a Web server. You can either include the information as part of the URL string, or you can send it as a separate section of the HTTP request. URL Encoding uses parameters included with the URL string by appending them to the end of the URL. You ve probably noticed as you surf through Web pages that after you type the address, the address bar automatically updates to the destination URL with question marks and equal signs, with several letters thrown into the mix. Next time, pay attention to the character string. Upon closer examination, you ll see that after the URL there s a question mark followed by param1=value¶m2=value. For example, when you navigate to the MSN Hotmail Web page, you type in the address, www.hotmail.com. However, after you press Enter, the following result appears in the address bar:
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http://loginnet.passport.com/login.srf id=2&svc=mail&cbid=24325&msppjph=1&tw=0& fs=1&fsa=1&fsat=1296000&lc=1033&_lang=EN
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That is certainly different from what was initially typed in, but somehow you reach the destination Web site. One advantage to including the parameters as part of the URL is that the URL with the parameters can be stored as part of the user s favorites. However, a URL is limited to 2083 characters in Internet Explorer, which in turn restricts the amount of information that can be passed using this method.
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Part 6: Excel and the Outside World: Collaborating Made Easy
Excel and the Web If you choose to send information as a separate section of the HTTP request, you will be using the POST field to transfer the information. POSTing data uses the POST field to send information to the Web server. Because there s almost no limit to the amount of data that can be put in a POST field, it s the preferred way of transferring information to the server. How do you return information to the client The data can be presented to the client as a Web page that can be read using the same techniques described throughout this chapter.
Using Internet Solutions with Excel
Microsoft has enabled the Excel developer to use the Internet as an integral part of an application solution. For example, workbooks can be opened from and saved to Web servers, Excel can open HTML pages as though they were workbooks, and Web Queries can be used to extract tables of data from Web pages. The Internet Explorer object library can also be automated to retrieve individual items of data from a Web page, without the overhead of using a workbook. Besides the ability to utilize and extract data from the World Wide Web, you can also save Excel workbooks as content-rich Web pages. Interactive Web pages can easily be produced, providing Excel-like interaction within the Web browser. All these tools discussed in this chapter enable you to develop new types of business solutions where Excel is one key part of a larger business process. This process is not limited to a single organization; rather, your solutions can span multiple organizations and geographical locations. After reviewing this chapter, you might need to rethink your strategy on developing Excel application solutions. The Internet is a valuable resource and can be easily used. Not only can you use the information found on the Internet, but Excel has added Internet functionality to assist you in sharing data with the world. While developing your solutions, you might need to think outside the typical box to achieve the desired results.
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