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How-To Integrate Excel Applications with SQL Server Apps | C# and Ado.Net

Updated on October 15, 2011

This is a 3 part tutorial on how to develop Excel (2007) Apps with SQL Server 2008 using C# and Ado.Net. This is the first article in the series. These are the steps that are included in each part that I will perform to develop a client/server application using Excel and SQL Server: 

  1. Create an Excel Windows Application - PART 1
  2. Create a table in SQL Server to store the data. - PART 1
  3. Create and configure an ADO.NET Data Source - PART 2
  4. Add code to load, update and save data back to the data store using a ribbon in C#. - PART 3

In an Excel and SQL Server environment, Excel is often assumed to be another database. It can also be a client. When developing Excel applications using VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007) you can treat Excel like a client similar to a Windows Forms based client.

I worked on a couple of projects recently involving Excel and SQL Server. Since I was new to VSTO or for that matter any kind of integration between Excel and SQL Server, I first tended to follow the crowd and use oledb to send and receive data from Excel. The drawback with this approach is your Excel application needs to be closed otherwise you are going to get runtime errors.

This article introduces you on to use Excel 2007 as a Windows Application client with a SQL Server as a persistent storage facility. ADO.Net will be used to persist the data from Excel to SQL Server. 

New Excel Project
New Excel Project

Create an Excel Windows Application

In this part I am going to setup the project and create an Excel Application. I also will create the table that I am going to need to store the data in SQL Server (Express).

From Visual Studio 2008:
Do File, NewProject (Ctrl+Shift+N) to open the New Project Dashboard in VS2008.
From the Project Types pane, expand “Visual C#” in the Project Types
Expand the “Office” node and select “2007” to display the Office 2007 installed templates in the “Templates” window.
Select the “Excel 2007 Workbook” template and change the following values to add the workbook object to your project:

  • Name: “ExcelADO”
  • Location: Arbitrary (I put mine in E:\Projects\DotNet)
  • Solution: Keep the default values (Create New Solution)
  • Make sure the “Create Directory for Solution” is checked
  • Solution Name: keep default “ExcelADO

Select New Excel Workbook
Select New Excel Workbook
A second dialog box will appear after the Project and Solution is created to allow to create a new Excel Workbook or to choose an existing one. For this example accept the default values and create a new workbook.

USE [SRM]
GO
SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO
SET ANSI_PADDING ON
GO
CREATE TABLE [dbo].[ProjectIdentification](
	[ProjectNumber] [nvarchar](10) NULL,
	[ProjectName] [nvarchar](100) NULL,
	[ProjectIntroduction] [varchar](5000) NULL
) ON [PRIMARY]
GO
SET ANSI_PADDING OFF
GO

Create a table in SQL Server to store the data.

Before adding a data source to the project in Part 2, I am going to create a table in SQL Express. If you don’t have SSMS or (SSSMS Express), I invite you to install it. You install SSMS while installing SQL Server. Its part of the same installation wizard. Otherwise you can download and install the Express version from the MSDN Download site.

From SSMS connect to SQL Express (local) or your SQL Server (network), open a new query and paste the following DML to create a table that you will need for this project.

The name of my database is SRM. You should replace that with your own database name in the “USE [SRM]” Statement.

Once you have created the table in the database you can close the SSMS for now.


Go to PART 2 - Add an ADO.Net Data Source


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