It will soon be possible to integrate statistical data through Python into Excel directly within a single spreadsheet to make workflows even smoother.
As announced by Ndeyanta Jallow, product manager in charge of Microsoft Excel itself, the big news is coming to Excel users participating in the Beta channel within the Microsoft 365 Insider program.
Why combine Python with Excel?
Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, known for its flexibility and extensive library of functions. Excel, on the other hand, is one of the most widely used tools for data management and analysis. By combining the potential of both, more efficient and automated data management can be achieved. Both of these tools are essential for anyone working in the field of data analysis, engineering or finance. The combination of Python with Excel offers powerful solutions for automating and processing complex data.
What are Microsoft 365 Insiders and the Beta channel?
Microsoft 365 Insider is a program created by the Redmond giant to give registered users the opportunity to preview new features of the popular Microsoft 365 productivity package, formerly known as Office 365.
Insiders, i.e., program participants, can share opinions and views and, thus, influence the development of new features before they become available to the entire audience of Office users.
Python arrives in new beta version of Microsoft Excel
The beta channel, in particular, allows members to try out certain builds of Microsoft tools in preview, and follow the various stages of development closely.
Somewhat like with the Windows Insider program, Microsoft 365 Insider is also a great benchmark for new features that may one day see adoption by all users and not just beta channel participants.
The big news, today, concerns a specific version of Excel, namely version 2309 (Build 16818.20000): from this onward, in fact, it will be possible to integrate the well-known Python programming language within Excel spreadsheets.
The benefits will be considerable for developers, especially those who work a lot with data and analysis: the ability to leverage Excel’s formulas, conditional formatting, and Pivot tables with Python means greatly accelerating workflows and making data analysis even more efficient.
Python and Excel – How does it work?
Microsoft, in partnership with Anaconda, one of the most important enterprise-grade Python repositories (used by tens of millions of professionals worldwide), is working on integrating the language into Excel via an instance of Anaconda on Azure, containing the best-known Python libraries (including so-called pandas for data management and Matplotlib for related visualization).
Here is how the integration between Python and Excel works:
- Beta channel users can create an Excel spreadsheet or open a new one. Then simply select Formulas > Insert Python.
- In the new dialog box, simply select the Try Preview button
Alternatively, simply enter =PY in a cell and choose PY from the autocomplete menu. The dialog box that opens immediately afterwards allows you to enable preview.
Calculations related to Python functions within cells are processed within a Microsoft Cloud instance so that the results are displayed within the sheet itself. This also applies to graphs and visualizations.
The usage scenarios are numerous and some examples are shared by Jallow within the official Microsoft 365 Insider blog.
When is Python coming to Excel?
The feature is available to Beta users starting with version 2309 (Build 16818.20000), but it is not usable from Excel for Mac, nor from the web version of the tool, just as you cannot take advantage of the integration from iOS or Android.
There are no release dates for the public version yet, however, it is most likely that it will be reserved for paid license holders.
More news for Office users
Office and Microsoft 365 are dynamic and ever-changing environments. There is no shortage of new features, and not all of them, fortunately, affect only a small number of users. Soon, for example, all Office and Microsoft 365 apps will receive a new default font, Aptos, which will retire the well-known and beloved Calibri as of September 2023.
Signing up for Microsoft 365 Insider right now is the only way to access the Beta channel and Python integration on Excel. If you are a developer and would like to try this new Microsoft 365 feature for yourself, you can sign up for the program here.
To get a feel for how charts, variables and shortcuts work, you can download this introductory template, with which to take your first steps and explore the potential of Excel with Python.