Integrate Excel Documents Into FrontFace

In an earlier article, we presented the ways in which Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) can be integrated into FrontFace. With the newly released Excel Viewer Plugin, Excel documents can now be integrated even more easily and, above all, directly.

Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software continues to be very popular with businesses. Whether used for inventory lists, attendance lists, appointments, production planning, evaluations, controlling, accounting, or personnel planning—Excel spreadsheets appear in almost every area of a company. Therefore, it is understandable that Excel spreadsheets, if they are already available, are also used beyond the local workplace PC. In addition to being made available via the web and SharePoint or simply as a paper printout, their use on digital information screens, dashboards, and shop floor boards is desirable for many users.

So far, however, this requirement has often failed due to the proprietary nature of Excel: Excel spreadsheets can only be properly displayed using Excel itself. And here, the application’s focus is clearly not on the presentation. Sadly, the free Excel Viewer, which was once offered by Microsoft for conveniently displaying Excel spreadsheets, even in full screen mode, has been discontinued for many years without a replacement.

The new Excel Viewer plugin for the digital signage software FrontFace from mirabyte generates totally new possibilities for the seamless integration of Excel on large screens and digital display boards:

FrontFace is a powerful standard software for easily creating and managing digital information and advertising screens (digital signage). FrontFace supports both classic noninteractive systems, which only serve to display content, and interactive touchscreen systems, in which the user can navigate through the content.

With its standard range of functions, FrontFace already offers broad support not only for the most common media and content types, such as images, videos, websites, but also PDF documents, vector graphics or special objects such as tickers or date/time displays. If necessary, additional functionality can be retrofitted with so-called plugins (e.g., the integration of external calendar data or news and weather).

The new Excel Viewer Plugin now also enables the direct integration of Excel documents into playlists and interactive touch menus. The only requirement is that Excel needs to be installed on the PC which is used for playback (the so-called “Player PC”) in addition to the FrontFace software.

The plugin then displays the Excel file on the screen in its original state and without any loss of quality. The Excel file is updated each time, so formulas and diagrams are automatically recalculated when being displayed on the screen. This means that the displayed content always corresponds to the current content of the Excel file. Because the Excel file can be embedded from a network share or even via HTTP, the content on the screen can be updated simply by editing and saving the file.

More information about the Excel Viewer Plugin and a free trial version are available for download.

„Welcome, Mr. John Doe!“ – Digital Welcome Screens and Reception Boards

Personalized welcome boards and reception screens for greeting visitors or customers in companies are a great idea, but there are a few things to consider when implementing them!

A flat-screen TV is screwed to the wall behind the reception desk, a mini-PC is attached, and the digital reception screen is ready to welcome visitors! – Sounds easy, but it is not quite that simple, because there is an important additional consideration. If the answer to the question of how the content management is accomplished is “PowerPoint,” it will instantly become clear how difficult and inflexible such a setup is. Automatic start? Edit content? Scheduling? Calendar integration? A scrolling news ticker would also be nice – but unfortunately none of that is possible!

This is where the “FrontFace” software by mirabyte comes into play: With FrontFace, professional reception and welcome screens can be easily set up and display any kind of content without much effort. In addition to general information about the company, e.g. image videos or brochures in PDF format, time-controlled or ad hoc, personalized greeting messages for visitors or customers can be displayed. (“Welcome to our company, Mr. Doe!”). Through these specialized displays, a friendly and open atmosphere is created right at the first contact with the company!

To trigger the welcome messages, FrontFace can also integrate external systems, such as a calendar from an Exchange server or a Lotus Domino server. SharePoint, iCalendar/ICS and Excel are also supported as external data sources. This allows for maintaining the entire system conveniently using applications such as Outlook.

FrontFace supports the integration of many different content types, e.g. scrolling news ticker tapes, clocks, websites, the current weather conditions, daily news and QR codes that can be displayed on the screen in combination with other media.

The arrangement of the contents, the management of the hardware and the content scheduling is done using the convenient FrontFace Assistant, a Windows application that can be installed on any conventional PC.

For a quick start, mirabyte offers a free, fully functional trial version, as well as tutorial videos and a step-by-step quick start guide for setting up a reception screen – available at the product website:

The FrontFace software is offered as a permanent license and is licensed per player PC (welcome screen). The price of a license is $599.95 USD. To connect external systems, e.g. Exchange Server, special plugins are also available.