WorldWide Telescope Add-in for Excel

Note: This documentation is preliminary and subject to change.

This document describes how to use the Microsoft WorldWide Telescope Add-in for Excel with WorldWide Telescope. The add-in enables a range of data sets to be visualized in WorldWide Telescope, including event data based on latitude and longitude (or RA and Dec if it is space based data), and geometry data specified in Well Known Text (WKT).  As changes are made to the Excel data, the add-in enables the visualization to change dynamically to match the new data.

Table of Contents

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The recommended setup is to have two monitors, one running WorldWide Telescope, and one the Excel Add-in.

  1. Close Microsoft Excel, if it is open.
  2. Run the installation package, WWTExcelAddin.msi.
  3. Open Microsoft Excel, the main menu item WWT should now appear.


To uninstall the Excel Add-in go to the Control Panel and remove the program WorldWide Telescope Add-in for Excel, the same process as for any other application.


If an update is available for the Add-in, a button will be added to the ribbon and to the Layer Manager pane. Click one of the buttons to install the update.

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UI Elements

Click on the WWT main entry to bring up the WWT ribbon.

Visualize Selection will bring up the Layer Manager pane, and attempt to map the headings in the data to the correct WorldWide Telescope labels.

Layer Manager is a toggle, showing or hiding the Layer Manager pane.

Click the down arrow of View Samples to list a range of sample data. The sample data files include viewing instructions, as some parameters need to be changed from the defaults to view the data correctly.

Capture Viewpoint will get the current view from WorldWide Telescope and display it in the Capture Viewpoint dialog.

Go To Viewpoint will change the WorldWide Telescope view to the one selected in the Manage Viewpoints dialog.

Manage Viewpoints will show the current range of captured viewpoints.

Go To Viewpoint from data will change the view of WorldWide Telescope to a latitude and longitude (and reference frame) of a layer, if an active cell has been selected on a row that contains a latitude and longitude (or RA and Dec) and the layer is linked with WorldWide Telescope.

Connect Remotely enables a machine name or IP address of a computer on the intranet to be entered, and then this computer will receive the layer data (see Remote Connections).

Contact Us and Feedback provide a range of options for providing Microsoft Research with information, WWT Add-in for Excel Help will bring up this help file.

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Capture Viewpoint Dialog

Enter a friendly name in the Name field.

Depending on the view captured the properties will vary slightly, with planet or moon objects displaying Lat and Long, and sky views displaying RA and Dec.

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Manage Viewpoints Dialog

The viewpoints cannot be edited after they are entered in the list, except that they can be renamed.

The viewpoints are saved along with the Excel workbook, so be sure to save off the file even if the data itself has not changed but a range of viewpoints has been captured.

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Layer Manager Pane

The Layer Manager pane is the control center for the add-in.

The Select Layer drop down list will show all the current layers (data sets) and whether they are linked or not linked with WorldWide Telescope.

Associated with each layer is a range of rows, this range can be discontinuous but must all include the same columns. Show Range will show the row selection for the selected layer.

Update Range will make the current row selection the range for the layer, and also show the View in WWT button. Press the View in WWT button to see the changes in WorldWide Telescope.

If a layer is linked Delete Layer will delete the layer from WorldWide Telescope, and delete the layer mappings in the Add-in. If the layer is not linked, then only the mappings in the Add-in are deleted.

The Refresh button may also show Get Layer Data. These two are used to synchronize layers with WorldWide Telescope and perhaps a second set of the same data open in a separate data sheet in Excel. Get Layer Data will load in the layer that is highlighted in WorldWide Telescope. Refresh will update the data in Excel with any changes that may have been made either in WorldWide Telescope or the other Excel worksheet.

The Layer Name is the friendly name for the layer, a default in the form "sheetN_N" is automatically generated, change this to something more descriptive.

Reference Frame is the Solar System object that the data applies to, often Earth but it could be any other planet or moon.

The Map Columns tab shows the mapping between Excel columns and the required labels within WorldWide Telescope. The best fitting labels will be selected by the add-in, but they can easily be changed if this is not correct. Often it makes sense to label the Excel columns with names that match the labels (Latitude, Longitude, and so on).

The Layer tab allows a number of properties of the layer to be changed if the defaults are not what is required.

The Fade type and Fade time apply to the visualization graphic - whether it should appear and disappear instantly or be faded.

The Marker tab refers particularly to the graphic that is used to render the events in the data.

The color determines the color of the marker in WorldWide Telescope used to render each of the events in the spreadsheet.

The Hover Text is simply the text that is rendered in a tooltip box if the user hovers over the marker.

For earthquake data for example the size of the marker is taken from the magnitude and scaled according to a Power. Other data may use one of the other scaling options: Constant, Log, Linear or Stellar Magnitude.

The Scale Relative determines whether the scaling is done relative to the size of the object (World) or to the current view (Screen).

In addition to the scaling type, a Scale factor (a multiplier) is applied to the size of the marker graphic.

Marker Type can be one of Gaussian, Point or PushPin.

If checked, Show Far Side Markers indicates that markers on the far side of the World should be rendered.

The TimeDecay gives the time, in days, that the marker takes to fade out.

Marker Types

The images show Gaussian, Point and Pushpin markers respectively.

Color Column Formats

The following are accepted formats for color column entries, note that they are case insensitive.

Color nameRed
Transparency75% Red
50% Goldenrod

Note the alpha value should be FF for solid color, 80 for 50% transparency.
Formula=IF(H9<4.5,"White",IF(H9<5,"75% Green",IF(H9<6,"Orange","Red")))

This formula checks an earthquake magnitude in cell H9.

Excel Shortcuts

The following table lists some useful Excel shortcuts:

To select the whole range of data.Highlight the top left cell of the range.
Click Ctrl-Shift down arrow, then right arrow.
To change all the entries in a column to one value or formula. Highlight the cell that contains the correct value.
Double left click the lower right hand corner of the cell.
To combine data from multiple sheets. Enter the formula =vloopup. This looks across datasheets for corresponding columns. The spreadsheet must be sorted in ascending order.

Saving Data

The Excel spreadsheets should be saved to .xlsx files, as this preserves the visualization properties set while using the Add-in.

To access previously saved layers, click on the Layer Manager icon in the WWT ribbon, and select the saved layer from the Select Layer drop-down list.

Layer properties that are set in the application, WorldWide Telescope, and not the Add-in, will not be reflected in the Add-in, and updates made using the Add-in will overwrite the properties changed directly into WorldWide Telescope.

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Remote Connections

The option of a remote connection is enabled to provide the ability to run the add-in on a laptop or desktop computer, but to have the output displayed on a large screen being controlled by another computer.

Enter a machine name or IP address of a machine that is currently running WorldWide Telescope on the organizations intranet.

Installation of WorldWide Telescope sets up port 5050 for remote connection, no further permission setting on the remote machine is required.

The remote machine now receives the data from the Excel add-in (rather the local version of WorldWide Telescope), and the full functionality of the add-in (including the receiving of layer updates) is available. There are security settings in WorldWide Telescope to allow and disallow connections from different IP addresses.

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Tutorial One: Earthquake Data

Go through the following steps to visualize the earthquake data for the period January 9th to September 9th 2009.

  1. Ensure WorldWide Telescope is running.
  2. In Excel, select the WWT menu item, then View Samples, choose Earth Based Point Data Sample.
  3. In the drop down list just below the ribbon, select Earthquakes.
  4. Click Visualize Selection.
  5. In the Layer Manager ensure that the Reference Frame is set to Earth.
  6. Click View in WWT. In WorldWide Telescope ensure that the simulated time rate has been accelerated to about x1000000, and you should now see the earthquake visualization.
Notice that the positions of the earthquake graphic include an altitude (a depth in this case).

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Tutorial Two: Geometry Data

Go through the following steps to visualize some countries and regions of the World.

  1. Ensure WorldWide Telescope is running.
  2. In Excel, select the WWT menu item, then View Samples, choose Earth Based Geometry Data Sample.
  3. In the drop down list just below the ribbon, select Countries_Regions.
  4. Click Visualize Selection.
  5. In the Layer Manager ensure that the Reference Frame is set to Earth.
  6. Click View in WWT.

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