Until recently, Microsoft Excel users could only enter text and numbers as data in cells. Judging by Microsoft’s announcement this week at its Ignite 2021 event, users will now be able to add more types of information to Excel cells.

The software giant will soon preview a new JavaScript API for Excel that will allow users to create their own custom data types that include things like images, entities, arrays or formatted number values. Users will also be able to make custom functions that can use these data types as both input and output.

Microsoft has published a blog post detailing the changes to Excel, among other parts of Office. Published GIFs show the user creating an Excel chart with a formula-like input. The other shows the user dragging locations from a world map into cells in a chart and combining them with formulas in that chart.

Microsoft began allowing users to enter their own data as a data type last year, and announced plans to add more than 100 data types going forward, such as chemistry, elemendollarser, food, and more. The company also announced changes to PowerPoint, the Office app, and more at Ignite 2021. An entirely new video editing application called Clipchamp has been introduced, with more significant changes to the Microsoft Office applications.

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Michael Lewis


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