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Software pattern for generic processing and transformation of data in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000201312D
Publication Date: 2010-Nov-10
Document File: 2 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a software pattern that enables users to quickly and efficiently transfer spreadsheet files among organizations and/or applications. It is a simple and repeatable process. The software pattern provides a generic method of reading and transforming spreadsheet data. It can be implemented in a variety of Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) architectures while using available data transformation software packs. The end-user need only define the target application format and create a map from the generic format to the new one.

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Software pattern for generic processing and transformation of data in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file

Exchanging business data among spreadsheet files is a common way of sharing data between companies, as well as internally between different parts of a company. Usually, the data stored in the spreadsheet must be used to populate some software application. Often, this is done manually, by having an employee review the spreadsheet contents and manually enter it into the target application. Any automated solution requires that the spreadsheet be in the exact specified format (known number of columns, with each column used for a specific data element) so that the application that reads the spreadsheet knows exactly what is where in the spreadsheet. Even this typically requires a fair amount of customization and/or programming to read the spreadsheet file, and then transform its contents into a format usable by the actual target application. Any approach to transferring data from a spreadsheet to another application is time consuming and has restrictions. When a company needs to accept any spreadsheet from its partners, this becomes a very large problem to solve.

A simple, repeatable, generic method for handling the process of sharing spreadsheet data among both spreadsheets and applications would greatly reduce the amount of time and effort required to handle a new spreadsheet format, as well as transform the data and send it to the target application.

The disclosed invention is a software pattern to provide a generic way of reading and transforming spreadsheet data. It can be implemented in a variety of Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) architectures while using software packs that enable the integration of customers and partners with rapid deployment of industry transformation solutions. Once implemented, an application can read any spreadsheet file. The system needs only to transform the file to its destination format by defining that target format and mapping from the generic input definition. This makes it a simple, repeatable, and greatly shortened process to handle a new spreadsheet format and retrieve the data sent to a target application.

The software pattern defines a way to process any spreadsheet file. The implementation of the novel approach follows:
1. The software pattern provides for the reading of the spreadsheet and its conversion to a generic Extensible Markup Language (XML) format, simply defined as a WORKSHEET that contains ROWS that contains COLUMNS. Hence, the inbound format definition never changes. The software reads any spreadsheet, containing any number of rows and columns and converts it to this generic XML form. This generic XML format is defined as a transformation software pack-type tree, which is a metadata definition of the format. Since the format never changes, the type tree definition never changes and can be used to read the XML converted version of any spreadsheet.

2. The XML is processed by a transf...