The digital signage software FrontFace for Public Displays supports various content, media and file formats that you can use to build your playlists. Besides images, videos, Web pages, text and PDF documents you can also integrate content from any Windows application that supports printing, thanks to the unique Print2Screen feature of FrontFace! That way, it is also possible to integrate Excel spreadsheets very easily.
Integrating Excel files into digital signage playlists can be extremely helpful, especially when you are building digital blackboards or dashboards that show BI figures or sales/production related data.
But in some cases it may be desired to directly integrate the “original” Excel file and not just a Print2Screen virtual printout. This also eliminates the requirement that whenever the Excel file gets updated, an update of the Print2Screen printout has to be created as well.
In order to integrate Excel files directly into FrontFace playlists, the optional “App Integration Plugin” comes into play: This plugin can start any Windows application with a customizable command line automatically on the screen and also closes the application again, once the content is supposed to disappear again. That way, you can compose stunning playlists that do not only contain multimedia content like images, slideshows, videos, Web pages or text but also native Excel files that are being displayed in exactly the same way as if you would open them in Microsoft Excel.
Here are the steps you have to take in order to integrate Excel spreadsheets into your FrontFace playlists:
- Make sure that Excel is installed on your player PC. Start Excel manually and select the “Auto-hide Ribbon” option in order to make Excel run in full screen mode without the common ribbon interface that is only required for editing spreadsheets.
- Download the “App Integration Plugin” and install it in your project using the Display Assistant. For detailed instructions on how to install a plugin in FrontFace, please see the FrontFace user manual.
- Next, add a new page to your playlist and select the “Full Screen” layout. Add a plugin as content and select the “App Integration Plugin” from the list of installed plugins.
- In the settings dialog of the plugin you need to enter the path to the file “EXCEL.exe”. When using Office 2016 in combination with Office 365, the file is usually located here: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\EXCEL.EXE”. Please keep in mind that the path refers to the installation of Excel on the player PC! If you also want to run the preview of your playlist in the Display Assistant, Excel needs to be installed on your PC at exactly the same path as well.
- As command line options, please enter “/e”, “/r” and the path to your Excel file in quotation marks. You can either provide a UNC network path that is also accessible from the player PC or our can add the Excel file directly to your FrontFace project. In order to do so, please copy the file into the “\Media\Static\” folder of your project and reference it as “%STATICDIR%\MyFile.xlsx” in the settings dialog of the plugin. When publishing your project, the file will be transferred on the player PC automatically.
- Finally, you should select the “Normal Exit Mode” in order to prevent any potential complaints by Excel that the application may have been terminated unexpectedly. You should also tick the “Start Application Maximized” option to make Excel appear as maximized window.
- Once you applied all the required settings, just publish the project to your player PC or run the preview in the Display Assistant.
When your playlist is shown and the playlist page with the plugin appears, Excel is started automatically and shows your spreadsheet in full screen mode. After the predefined display time of the playlist page has elapsed, Excel is closed again automatically and the next playlist page is shown.
Warning: Since Excel only supports one instance of the application at a time, please make sure that you do not use the plugin on two consecutive playlist pages. You always have to make sure that at least one page that does not use the plugin is between two pages that use the plugin!