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Microsoft Excel - replacing ActiveX Controls

Posted on 2014-03-12
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Our company develops a series of Excel workbooks that pull data from a client’s SQL database based on user-defined parameters.  To implement the parameters, we currently use ActiveX controls, specifically text boxes and a “master” list box.  

The “master” list box is populated from Excel tables (which are populated from SQL Server using typical master files (e.g., companies, projects, customers)) and the content of the “master” list box varies depending on the ActiveX textbox selected (using simple VBA code).  Users can select single or multiple items from the “master” list box (as well as type in partial text strings including the use of wild cards); the items selected are then pushed to the Linked Cell associated with the ActiveX textbox.  We then pass the values in those linked cells as parameters to SQL Server stored procedures to return the requested report data to Excel.

Here’s the dilemma: I have been tasked with removing all ActiveX controls from the workbooks for future product releases.  According to my boss, Microsoft has stopped development of ActiveX controls for Office and these will soon be deprecated or no longer supported (Office 365)…btw, if anyone has any information on this subject that would be helpful.  I can’t find anything that indicates that ActiveX controls are on the chopping block, but my boss is a really smart guy which is irrelevant because I have to do what he asks regardless of his intellectual capabilities.

My main considerations for evaluating a replacement technology include:
•      compatibility with Office 2010 (at least for the next 2-3 years), Office 2013 and Office 365
•      the application is currently a on-premise desktop application, but will quickly have to be available as a web-based application, including on mobile devices

I’m knee-deep waist-deep into researching this and have learned a lot about how much I have yet to learn (geez, who can keep up?).  Apps for Office, Task Pane vs. Content apps, XML customization of the Office Ribbon (my favorite if I can figure out how to do it) – so much to chew on.

Here’s my question (finally): what method / technology would you use to implement the above functionality in lieu of ActiveX controls?
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Question by:jobprojn
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jaynee earned 1500 total points
ID: 39933517
Just a quick lookup on the deprecation of activex gives
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Scripting#Deprecation

..and Microsoft wants to get rid of all plugins from IE:

Dean Hachamovitch, head of the IE team, wrote:

    For the web to move forward and for consumers to get the most out of touch-first browsing, the Metro style browser in Windows 8 is as HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free. The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web.

    Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers. Plug-ins were important early on in the web’s history. But the web has come a long way since then with HTML5. Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI.
...

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/14/metro-style-browsing-and-plug-in-free-html5.aspx
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by:jaynee
ID: 39933520
So yes, I can see why your boss wants to look at replacing all your Activex controls.  I'm lurking on this one, cos I have a similar problem myself, and will be interested to see what other developers think is the way forward.
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