Excel-Lite: Hey coder! This spreadsheet's for you!

Excel-Lite (XLL) has all the calculating power of regular Excel, but without the bloat, the baggage, the bulge, the.. the.. obligatory overheads, the albatrossicle accoutrements, the embarrasing encumbrances, the chaff.

For generating SQL statements, or HTML, or any sort of code, for manipulating raw data, you can't go past XLL.

There is no limit to the number of rows or columns you can use. No limit to the number of sheets.

XLL does not reformat your data. It won't drop the '0' from the front of a number. It won't alter the format of a field that happens to resemble a date. Currency symbols don't confuse it.

It has excellent support for Regular Expressions. Plus a genuinely comprehensive 'reveal-codes' mode to help you get to grips with your data.

Okay, there's no ability to set text colours or bold or italics or varying fonts or font-sizes, and there are no charting capabilities and even no printing (without plug-ins). But those features are outside the intended use of the product. The trade-off is a fast, versatile, bloat-free application, targeted at programmers and information-workers.

It's quick to load. And damn quick at performing calculations. It takes up about 100k of memory (excluding spreadsheets) and has a versatile undo/redo capability that appears to be unlimited.

Files are internally represented (and stored) as XML. Hence spreadsheet searches can be performed with XPath!


You can load data from most any format ever devised (Yes, VisiCalc too!). And there are plug-ins that allow you to define new custom input formats, too. (What else would you expect?)

You don't have to import from files either -- you can import from webservices, databases, ftp, smtp, streams ... you name it! Files can only be saved as XML (or compressed XML). But the package includes a wealth of XSL-templates, so you can transform your XML output for presentation, or into other formats, if you wish.

Keystroke Macros can be easily recorded, stored, edited or replayed. For more serious functionality extensions, you can write a plug-in in any .net language -- just implement the iXLLPlugIn interface.

There's already a vast wealth of plug-ins available for anything you might want to perform. Plug-ins exist for database access (it can act as a replacement for SQL query analyzer!), for manipulating XML in any way imaginable, for authoring XSLT, CSS, batch files, circuit design, statistical analysis, timetabling, reporting, scheduling, and more fractal-toolkits than you could ever know what to do with. There are some quite impressive plug-ins for integrating with numerous applications, such as Biztalk, Infopath, MS-CRM, Sharepoint and even that lame-elephant, SAP.

Only one real problem. Excel-Lite is not a Microsoft product. In fact, no-one has written it yet. It's just a figment of my imagination, dreamt up a few days ago thanks to a post by Dave Burke. But hopefully, i'll have my hands on it one day not too soooon.

Ahhh... dreaming of software...

as seen on the daily grind

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