Introduction to using widgets

Use widgets in your spreadsheet to improve the functionality and appearance of the converted web page. This help page introduces you to widgets and their common features.

SpreadsheetConverter provides an extensive selection of graphical widgets that makes your web page more appealing and easier to use. Use  pre-formatted text fields, dropdown lists and calendars to improve the quality of an electronic form. Use Google maps and dynamically selected images to show your website visitors where you are, and what it looks like.

Screenshot of the widgets tab in version 8.3

Widgets are inserted in the spreadsheet from the Widgets tab of the SpreadsheetConverter task pane in Excel. Select the cell where you want to insert the widget; then select the type of widget from the task pane. An options dialog appears, in which you can specify the detailed settings for the widget.

Most widgets are fully visible only in the web environment, even though you manage them in an Excel spreadsheet. To review the visual appearance of a web page containing widgets, you must convert your spreadsheet for the web and verify the result in a web browser.

To remove an advanced control, select its cell and click Remove on the widget’s setting page. If the cell still isn’t empty, it may contain a default value or a comment. Right-click in the cell and select Clear Contents from the menu to completely clear the cell.

Widgets make the web page look better

In general, spreadsheets have a strict user interface. Often, it’s just letters and numbers arranged in rows and columns. When spreadsheets like these are converted to web pages, they look dreadful (we really should call them dreadsheets).

SpreadsheetConverter re-uses any existing graphical elements already present in your spreadsheets. An input field containing true/false values automatically becomes a checkbox, and a dropdown list created with Data > Validation > List becomes a dropdown list also in the converted web page.

To help you create a more appealing user interface, we took a step further and created a toolbox of user interface widgets that makes it much easier to use your calculator or web form:

  • Don’t write a date – pick one from a calendar.
  • Don’t list the things you need, tick the checkboxes next to the items you want.
  • Show an image of the wallpaper the customer is considering, in the selected color.
  • Use single- or multichoice menus for selection.
  • Use sliders to change a numeric value in real-time.
  • Use the Ratings widget to make it easy for your visitors to rate products or services.
  • Create an unlimited number of text fields in any size or shape you like.
  • Add a Google map to help people find your store.
  • Insert an e-mail button for those who couldn’t find it anyway.


Inserting widgets

The Widgets tab of the task pane contains all the widgets available in your flavor of SpreadsheetConverter. If you have a license for more than one flavor, always remember to select the flavor you will convert with before you start adding or editing widgets. That way you get the widgets and settings that are appropriate for the flavor you will be using when you convert the spreadsheet to a web page.

To insert a widget in a cell. select the cell where you want the widget to appear, then click on the widget in the SpreadsheetConverter task pane (if you don’t see the task pane, use Excel’s menu to show it: SpreadsheetConverter > Task Pane > Show). A settings window appears to let you set the options for the widget you have selected, e.g.:

  • For dropdown lists, listboxes and radio buttons you enter the various different choices that the user can choose from.
  • For sliders and star ratings, you set the range of values, e.g. 0-100 for a slider or 1-5 stars for a rating.

If you later need to modify these settings, just select the cell again and the the settings page for the cell’s widget will appear in the task pane.

Making widgets look good

Merge adjacent cells

Widgets use the same row/column layout as the rest of the spreadsheet. Many of the widgets may require more space than the default row height and column width in Excel.

As an example, if you use a dropdown list, a listbox or radio buttons to select a city or state name from a list, you probably want the widget to be wide enough for the longest name in the list. If you don’t, SpreadsheetConverter must either wrap the longer names over more than one line (e.g. for radio buttons), or truncate the names after the allotted width (e.g. for dropdown lists).

If a widget is too big to fit within its cell’s height and width, the corresponding row and/or column may be widened automatically, depending on the web browser. This will probably harm the layout of your spreadsheet in an unpredictable way.

To make room for a large widget you can use Excel’s own Format Cells command to merge the cells in a cell area into one. First select all the adjacent cells you want to merge, then right-click somewhere in the area and select Format Cells…. On the Alignment tab, check the Merge cells option. This will create one big cell from all the cells you selected. Adjust the horizontal and vertical alignment if necessary.

In the example below, four columns and three rows, in total twelve cells, were merged for the Address multi-line text widget.

Screenshot of an address field created by merginc cells.

Known issues

You can’t copy and paste widgets

When you copy a cell it is done by Excel, and Excel doesn’t really know about our widgets. Copying the cell in which a widget resides will only copy the cell’s contents. Widgets can only be inserted from the Widgets task pane.

You can’t drag and drop widgets

When you move a cell it is done by Excel, and Excel doesn’t really know about our widgets. Moving the cell in which a widget resides will only move the cell’s contents. You must use the Widgets task pane to insert a new widget of the same kind in a new cell, copy the settings from the old widget and then delete it from the old cell.

Be careful when you insert rows above or columns to the left of a widget

When you insert rows above or columns to the left of a widget, the widget gets a new reference (e.g. cell G3 becomes H3 because you insert a new column to the left of it). All widgets are supposed to adapt to this, but there are many widgets, and many combinations of things that can go wrong, so please verify that all widgets survived the change and report any errors to us.