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9/96 How To: Applications

Strut Your Stuff On the Web

Show off your snazziest spreadsheets on the info highway.

By Jim Boyce

THE INTERNET IS just like Las Vegas. You can get anything you want, 24 hours a day. Have you ever had the urge to buy a Hawaiian Shave Ice cart and set up a summer sideline? Check out and you could soon be selling ice for $3 a pound.

If selling gourmet snow cones leaves you cold, maybe you'll be happy just getting some of your documents on the Web. Whether you're creating new documents or working with existing ones, converting them to HTML (hypertext markup language) format is easy. Although you could convert documents manually with any text editor, there are many tools to automate the process. Some applications even feature built-in HTML capability. This month, I'll focus on exporting spreadsheet data to HTML format.

Microsoft Excel users will find it fairly simple to incorporate spreadsheet data into HTML documents. Internet Assistant for Microsoft Excel makes saving your spreadsheet data in HTML format a one-step process. You can find the Internet Assistant Wizard at Microsoft's Web site at Download the wizard into the \OFFICE95\EXCEL\LIBRARY folder. To make it available in Excel, open Excel and choose Tools/Add-Ins, then place a check beside the Internet Assistant Wizard.

The process is a bit more roundabout with Lotus 1-2-3. Although Lotus SmartSuite 96 integrates Internet connectivity in Word Pro, Approach and Freelance Graphics, 1-2-3 Release 5.01 is a 16-bit application that lacks that capability. The 32-bit version of 1-2-3 will have Internet connectivity built in, but until that version becomes available, you'll have to funnel your spreadsheet data through Word Pro. But aside from the few extra steps, you don't need anything else to migrate your spreadsheets to the Web.

Get your cells on the Web

The first step in publishing spreadsheet-based documents on the Web is, obviously, to create the spreadsheet. Whether you're using Excel, 1-2-3 or another spreadsheet program, the process is no different from creating any other spreadsheet. The only additional point to consider is presentation; what looks fine as an internal document might not be ready for prime-time viewing. As you're building the spreadsheet, think about composition and readability, keeping in mind that millions of people could be viewing your creation (no pressure).

When you've fine-tuned the cells and are satisfied with the way the spreadsheet data looks, you're ready to incorporate it into your HTML document. Here's the process for Excel. Select the range of cells you want to include on the Web page. Then choose Tools/Internet Assistant Wizard. The wizard's Step 1 dialog box shows the selected range. If you didn't select the range previously, or want to change the selection, select or type the range in the text box. Then choose Next.

The Internet Assistant Wizard offers two options for dealing with the data. You can create a standalone HTML file or a table for insertion in an existing HTML file. To create a new HTML file, which you can modify with Word or another HTML editor, choose the Create radio button and click on Next. The Step 3 dialog box then prompts you for optional information to include on the page, such as title, header, description, e-mail address and other data. Fill in the desired fields, then click on Next.

The Step 4 dialog box prompts you to specify how you want to handle formatting. You can choose to convert as much formatting as possible, including font formatting and other characteristics, or convert only the data. Pick the option you want, then choose Next. The Internet Assistant Wizard then prompts you for a filename and location in which to save the file. Once you click on Finish, you can view the file with your Web browser, edit it with an HTML editor or put it right on the Net.

Had you chosen Step 2's Insert radio button, the wizard would have prompted you to specify the name of an existing HTML file in which to insert the spreadsheet data, and insert the string <!-##Table##-> at the point in the document where you want to insert the table. Switch to your word or HTML processor and insert the string, then save the file. Using an HTML editor, such as Internet Assistant for Word (, open an existing HTML file or start a new HTML file, and place the cursor where you want to insert the table. Then choose Insert/HTML Markup. In the resulting dialog box, type the tag <!-##Table##-> and click on OK.

Before you trudge on, here's a tip. Internet Assistant for Word suffers from a slight bug. It appends an extra space to the end of a document when you load the document. If your table tag is the last line of the document, that extra space will completely confuse Excel and prevent it from inserting the table. Either move the table tag so it isn't the last line in the file, or simply add a blank line to the end of the file. Then save the file. Make sure you don't accidentally add any extra characters to the table tag line.

Now back to Excel. When the wizard prompts you for the name of the existing HTML file in which to insert the table, type the path or browse to the file, then choose Next. Decide whether you want to convert formatting and data or just data, and choose Next. The wizard then prompts you for the name of a new file in which to save the HTML data. You can specify the existing HTML file to overwrite it or specify a new filename to store the entire HTML file, complete with spreadsheet table, to a new file. When you click on Finish, the wizard creates the file. You then can view it in your Web browser or place it on the Net.

SmartSuite takes a different approach to moving spreadsheet data into HTML pages. First, open Word Pro and open or start a new HTML file. Switch to 1-2-3 and open the spreadsheet containing the data to be inserted (if you're creating a new file, make sure you save it before you continue). Select the cells you want in the table, then press Ctrl+C to copy the cells to the Clipboard. Switch back to Word Pro and locate the cursor where you want the table inserted. Choose Edit/Paste Special, then select the Rich Text Format option and choose OK to insert the table. Massage the formatting if necessary, then save the HTML file.

You can also use this method with Word to create and view HTML documents. Follow the same steps you used in Word Pro.

It may seem easier to convert spreadsheet data through the Clipboard than through Internet Assistant, but using Internet Assistant offers a number of options not available through the Clipboard, such as control over formatting and the ability to create standalone HTML files from Excel. If you just want a quick and dirty copy, though, the Clipboard works well and doesn't require any additional software. And perhaps most important, the Clipboard offers a transfer method between any combination of spreadsheet program and HTML editor. Now you'll be able to sell your own ice-making concept on the Internet.

Contributing Editor Jim Boyce is the lead author of Special Edition: Using Windows 95 Communications (Que, 1996). Contact Jim in the "applications" topic of WINDOWS Magazine's areas on America Online and CompuServe. Jim Boyce's e-mail ID is:

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