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Analyze Excel Online Data in R

Use standard R functions and the development environment of your choice to analyze Excel Online data with the CData JDBC Driver for Excel Online.

Access Excel Online data with pure R script and standard SQL on any machine where R and Java can be installed. You can use the CData JDBC Driver for Excel Online and the RJDBC package to work with remote Excel Online data in R. By using the CData Driver, you are leveraging a driver written for industry-proven standards to access your data in the popular, open-source R language. This article shows how to use the driver to execute SQL queries to Excel Online and visualize Excel Online data by calling standard R functions.

Install R

You can match the driver's performance gains from multi-threading and managed code by running the multithreaded Microsoft R Open or by running open R linked with the BLAS/LAPACK libraries. This article uses Microsoft R Open 3.2.3, which is preconfigured to install packages from the Jan. 1, 2016 snapshot of the CRAN repository. This snapshot ensures reproducibility.

Load the RJDBC Package

To use the driver, download the RJDBC package. After installing the RJDBC package, the following line loads the package:

library(RJDBC)

Connect to Excel Online as a JDBC Data Source

You will need the following information to connect to Excel Online as a JDBC data source:

  • Driver Class: Set this to cdata.jdbc.excelonline.ExcelOnlineDriver
  • Classpath: Set this to the location of the driver JAR. By default this is the lib subfolder of the installation folder.

The DBI functions, such as dbConnect and dbSendQuery, provide a unified interface for writing data access code in R. Use the following line to initialize a DBI driver that can make JDBC requests to the CData JDBC Driver for Excel Online:

driver <- JDBC(driverClass = "cdata.jdbc.excelonline.ExcelOnlineDriver", classPath = "MyInstallationDir\lib\cdata.jdbc.excelonline.jar", identifier.quote = "'")

You can now use DBI functions to connect to Excel Online and execute SQL queries. Initialize the JDBC connection with the dbConnect function.

You can connect to a workbook by providing authentication to Excel Online and then setting the following properties:

  • Workbook: Set this to the name or Id of the workbook.

    If you want to view a list of information about the available workbooks, execute a query to the Workbooks view after you authenticate.

  • UseSandbox: Set this to true if you are connecting to a workbook in a sandbox account. Otherwise, leave this blank to connect to a production account.

You use the OAuth authentication standard to authenticate to Excel Online. See the Getting Started section in the help documentation for a guide. Getting Started also guides you through executing SQL to worksheets and ranges.

Built-in Connection String Designer

For assistance in constructing the JDBC URL, use the connection string designer built into the Excel Online JDBC Driver. Either double-click the JAR file or execute the jar file from the command-line.

java -jar cdata.jdbc.excelonline.jar

Fill in the connection properties and copy the connection string to the clipboard.

Below is a sample dbConnect call, including a typical JDBC connection string:

conn <- dbConnect(driver,"jdbc:excelonline:InitiateOAuth=GETANDREFRESH")

Schema Discovery

The driver models Excel Online APIs as relational tables, views, and stored procedures. Use the following line to retrieve the list of tables:

dbListTables(conn)

Execute SQL Queries

You can use the dbGetQuery function to execute any SQL query supported by the Excel Online API:

test_xlsx_sheet1 <- dbGetQuery(conn,"SELECT Id, Column1 FROM Test_xlsx_Sheet1")

You can view the results in a data viewer window with the following command:

View(test_xlsx_sheet1)

Plot Excel Online Data

You can now analyze Excel Online data with any of the data visualization packages available in the CRAN repository. You can create simple bar plots with the built-in bar plot function:

par(las=2,ps=10,mar=c(5,15,4,2)) barplot(test_xlsx_sheet1$Column1, main="Excel Online Test_xlsx_Sheet1", names.arg = test_xlsx_sheet1$Id, horiz=TRUE)