Microsoft is adding a new feature to its Excel spreadsheet app for Microsoft 365 subscribers that could make it more popular for computer coders. Today, the company announced it is adding support for the Python coding language in Excel. The feature is currently available as a public preview for Microsoft 365 Insiders in the Beta Channel.
In a blog post, Microsoft stated there will be no need for any extra setup to add Python code to Excel. Users can just use Excel’s new PY function to type in Python code in an Excel cell. All the code calculations are then run on a Microsoft Cloud server and are then put back in the Excel app. That includes any plots and visualizations:
Excel users now have access to powerful analytics via Python for visualizations, cleaning data, machine learning, predictive analytics, and more. Users can now create end to end solutions that seamlessly combine Excel and Python – all within Excel. Using Excel’s built-in connectors and Power Query, users can easily bring external data into Python in Excel workflows. Python in Excel is compatible with the tools users already know and love, such as formulas, PivotTables, and Excel charts.
The public preview will be available first on Excel on Windows with the build version 16.0.16818.2000. It will be added to other Excel platforms sometime later in the future. Microsoft 365 subscribers will be able to use the new Python features in Excel at no additional code while it is in public preview, but after it is generally available, some features will require an additional fee.
In another blog post, Microsoft says the Python features in Excel have some “data size and compute limitations” at the moment, but these will be monitored and changed over time. It also says even more features will be added to Python for Excel, including “improved editing experiences (such as autocomplete and syntax highlighting), default Reprs, enhanced error behaviors, help and documentation, and more.”