Optimizing Excel Reports on Mobile Devices

published on
May 15, 2019
Gary Crawford
COO, XLCubed
Fluence Technologies
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Want to view your Excel report on a mobile device? Tired of having to zoom in on your data? Well then look no further, XLCubed has you covered!

With the XLCubed Mobile App, you can take your Excel reports with you. Workbooks published to XLCubed Web can be accessed by other users on any mobile or tablet device. Furthermore, with XLCubed’s dynamic dashboards, you can optimise the display for any size screen. This eliminates unusable cut-off screens, zoomed-out views, and large amounts of scrolling.

Creating a mobile accessible report from an existing Excel spreadsheet is easy to do. Here I will show you how quickly it can be done.

Here we will make the following excel spreadsheet accessible via all devices.

To help with this, we will transition all the elements of the dashboard on to an XLCubed dashboard sheet. Dashboard sheets are responsive to any screen size and can have different layouts depending on the device it is being viewed on.

To create a dashboard, go to the XLCubed Ribbon > Visualise > Dashboard Sheet.

We can then create different views of the dashboard for varying screen sizes by setting our targets.

Creating Targets:

Targets are the display sizes of which the dashboards can be viewed on. They allow you to create different views of the dashboard, each of which is only displayed if the screen is of the specified dimensions.

To create your targets, go onto your dashboard sheet and click ‘Edit targets’ on the XLCubed Dashboard taskbar.

You will then be presented with the following page:

Here you can choose your targets, so for this report I chose:

  • Default
  • Phone Landscape
  • Phone Portrait
  • Tablet Landscape
  • Tablet Portrait

Depending on the dashboard, the elements to be displayed, and the devices it will be viewed on, it may not be necessary to create this many targets. For example, you may only need a tablet landscape and portrait view, and find that this fits well for most modern mobiles also.

Now, you can create the elements required for each target using viewports.

Creating Viewports

Viewports are a great way of presenting a large amount of information in a small space. They create a “window” to another part of the workbook. If the viewport control itself is smaller than the range it is displaying, it will show vertical and horizontal scrollbars as required. Any clickable elements within the viewport, such as XLCubed grids or parametrised links, can still be interacted with.

Viewports are added from the Dashboard Ribbon. Here we can specify the source range to be displayed as well as placement options and border settings.

We can also choose to ‘scale to fill’. This allows all the content of the viewport to be seen, no matter how small or large the screen is.

Now that we know how to edit our targets and create viewports, we can create our dashboards for our various targets:

For the default screen, I used only one viewport and placed the viewport in the center of my dashboard to optimize all the space that was given.

I did the same with the ‘Phone Landscape’ view to give a similar look. However, after rotating the phone from landscape to portrait, the view was unappealing: there was a large amount of scrolling through the dashboard and at times the charts were cut-off. I therefore decided to use three viewports, one for the title, two for the main content.

When viewing in a portrait mode, it is usually optimal to restrict the view to 2-3 objects at a time, where the remaining elements can be scrolled in to view. This can be configured in the dashboard taskpane, using the ‘Show x rows at a time’ in the layout tab:

So, by using this feature and changing the viewports, the mobile view now looked like this:

Nothing is cut off, and we simply have to scroll down to view the rest of the dashboard.

I set up the tablet targets in a similar way.

This method for optimizing reports means they can be viewed whenever and wherever required, providing instant access to data. This can be critical for everyday business needs such as in retail stores and ad-hoc meetings. The transition of existing Excel reports to dynamic dashboards can be achieved in only a few minutes but allows for universal flexible access across all devices.

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