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The sheer weight and number of popular Microsoft Excel how-to manuals speaks volumes on Excel's usefulness and ubiquity. Excel produces magnificent spreadsheets and charts for both business and personal use. However, limitations on rows, columns, and sheer size preclude Excel workbooks from being the optimal repository for burgeoning data stores. Add to this the difficulty of comparing worksheets to other enterprise data sources, and questions surface of how and where to store this data to make it both accessible and extensible.
One solution is to convert some of the workbooks to XML, which is rapidly becoming the data-conversion medium of choice both on the Internet and in large conversion projects from diverse sources and systems. XML provides the quintessential separation of content from display.
It's no coincidence that Microsoft uses XML as the underpinning of recordsets in .NET. The ease with which Visual Studio .NET can generate hierarchical relationships and schema from an XML file loudly trumpets this fact.