Olympics Excel-lence

Greetings from London! As regular readers are well aware, I am here acting as the Microsoft Technologies Consultant for NBC Olympics. It’s absolutely unbelievable to think that I’ve been here for five weeks, and that in just a few short days, the torch will be dissembled in the beautiful and exciting Closing Ceremonies (don’t miss it!), and walls will be torn down around us here in the International Broadcast Center.

For anyone who is either an Olympics geek or an Office/SharePoint geek, do I ever have a treat for you today! Late yesterday, Richard Riley, Director of the SharePoint group at Microsoft, pointed his Facebook followers (of which I am one) to an incredible demonstration of the new power of Office 2013. And it’s all about the Olympics!

As you might know, one of the hallmark changes in Office 2013 is a move away from the “Add-In” model of the past to a services-based “app” model, whereby a plug-in app can be consumed by an Office document. As a brilliant example of just what this means, Microsoft has released the Medal Tracker template for Excel 2013. Folks, you must do yourself a favor and give this app a spin this week while the data is “live.”

The Excel 2013-based Medal Tracker is a beautiful and exciting way to view, pivot, and analyze Olympics results, and a thoroughly amazing way to see what Office 2013 can do with apps. With live data from the London Games, you can pivot results based on country, sport, and medal type, and you can analyze the events that generated those medals, and top athletes.

Data is visible in traditional worksheet lists, which can be filtered and sorted, medal counts are visualized by an animated bubble chart and overlaid onto a Bing Map, and each you can drill in to discover the details behind each data point.

Olympics Medal Tracker app
Olympics Medal Tracker app- CLICK to see full size

To run the Medal Tracker, you must install Excel 2013. If you haven’t done that yet, it’s easy. And it runs side by side with your existing Office clients, so you shouldn’t experience any disruption to your “production” versions of Office.

Go to http://officepreview.microsoft.com and sign up. You can register for a consumer account or, if you haven’t done so yet, sign up for an enterprise Office 365 preview account.

From there, you can install Microsoft Office using the new click-once, streaming installation. I was up and running in mere minutes. Or, if you prefer old-school setup.exe, download the bits from TechNet or MSDN.

Then, go to the app store and install the Medal Tracker.

Open Excel 2013 and start a new workbook based on the Medal Tracker template. Follow the instructions in the workbook.

First, you must click a link to sign in with your Windows Live ID. Then, there are two or three places that you click to “start” each app.

Once everything is lit up, click data points in the Medals By Team list. Notice how the Bubble chart visualization reacts, and how the information in the Medal Tracker Home tab changes. Check out the Bing map.

Then switch to the Event Results sheet. Click any cell in the sheet and watch the information that is produced by the Medal Tracker app.

Now look at the other tabs in the Medal Tracker app. Explore the feeds produced in the News tab. Then click Data Feed and follow its instructions: add sheets for Olympic History, Sports, and Participant Teams. Wow!!!!

Be sure you aren’t expected at any meetings—you’ll have a great time playing with this one!

For anyone who cares to get an “inside” view of the Olympics, I’ve made my personal Facebook albums public. There’s an album of venues and events and experiences and an album showing shots of us at work —an album some have referred to as “geek porn.”

Enjoy the remaining 5 days of the XXX Summer Olympic Games from London!


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