Excel Changes Links Improperly

We are having a problem where Excel changes links to 
other workbooks and breaks them.  This comes up in the 
following scenario.

Different users have access rights to different 
directories and have their drives mapped differently 
(i.e. to the directories they have access to).  Sometimes 
a user modifies data in a file that has links to 
directories that don't exist for them.  Of course the 
links don't work for them, but that's ok.  What isn't ok 
is that when they save the file, Excel changes the links 
(apparently trying to make the links relative to drive 
where this user found the destination file) and after 
that, the links don't work for anyone, even the original 
user that set them up.  This happens even though the user 
didn't specifically change the links.

We tried converting the links to UNC paths as suggested 
by the article KB328440, but ran into a whole different 
set of issues.

Is there any other information on relative and absolute 
links?

0
jcole4168 (2)
9/11/2003 11:54:35 PM
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UNC paths was going to be my suggestion. I am, therefore, undaunted by your
mention of it causing a different set of issues; rather, I would ask for
specifics about those issues so we can help to solve them. I think that's
probably the best way to go.
-- 
HTH -

-Frank
Microsoft Excel MVP
Dolphin Technology Corp.
http://vbapro.com


"Jack Cole" <jcole@enterasys.com> wrote in message
news:108201c378c0$0ded3810$a501280a@phx.gbl...
> We are having a problem where Excel changes links to
> other workbooks and breaks them.  This comes up in the
> following scenario.
>
> Different users have access rights to different
> directories and have their drives mapped differently
> (i.e. to the directories they have access to).  Sometimes
> a user modifies data in a file that has links to
> directories that don't exist for them.  Of course the
> links don't work for them, but that's ok.  What isn't ok
> is that when they save the file, Excel changes the links
> (apparently trying to make the links relative to drive
> where this user found the destination file) and after
> that, the links don't work for anyone, even the original
> user that set them up.  This happens even though the user
> didn't specifically change the links.
>
> We tried converting the links to UNC paths as suggested
> by the article KB328440, but ran into a whole different
> set of issues.
>
> Is there any other information on relative and absolute
> links?
>


0
frank8273 (76)
9/12/2003 3:59:41 AM
We are having a couple problems when make the links UNC 
paths.

We have groups of Excel files that we want to update when 
machine generated Excel files change.  We do this with a 
macro that opens all the files and then does a 
recalculate.  This should update the links where both the 
source and destination is file is open.  This is MUCH 
faster than updating links on File-Open.  But sometimes 
Excel doesn't recognize that the file it has open is the 
one specified in the link.   So its link status is "OK" 
rather than "Source is open".  In this case the links 
aren't updated.  This is true even though we open the 
file using the UNC path, and the link specifies the same 
UNC path.  Even more frustration is that it doesn't 
happen all the time. And often if you fiddle around in 
Excel checking things for a few minutes it reverts 
to "Source is open".

Another problem is that the UNC links seem to 
occasionally change to mapped drive links for no apparent 
reason.  We have a lot of users, so it is hard to keep 
track of exactly who is doing what.  But we are pretty 
sure nobody is deliberately changing them.

Another problem with UNC links is that you can't easily 
have a separate test environment since they are 
absolute.  Everybody uses the same set of files.

>-----Original Message-----
>UNC paths was going to be my suggestion. I am, 
therefore, undaunted by your
>mention of it causing a different set of issues; rather, 
I would ask for
>specifics about those issues so we can help to solve 
them. I think that's
>probably the best way to go.
>-- 
>HTH -
>
>-Frank
>Microsoft Excel MVP
>Dolphin Technology Corp.
>http://vbapro.com
>
>
>"Jack Cole" <jcole@enterasys.com> wrote in message
>news:108201c378c0$0ded3810$a501280a@phx.gbl...
>> We are having a problem where Excel changes links to
>> other workbooks and breaks them.  This comes up in the
>> following scenario.
>>
>> Different users have access rights to different
>> directories and have their drives mapped differently
>> (i.e. to the directories they have access to).  
Sometimes
>> a user modifies data in a file that has links to
>> directories that don't exist for them.  Of course the
>> links don't work for them, but that's ok.  What isn't 
ok
>> is that when they save the file, Excel changes the 
links
>> (apparently trying to make the links relative to drive
>> where this user found the destination file) and after
>> that, the links don't work for anyone, even the 
original
>> user that set them up.  This happens even though the 
user
>> didn't specifically change the links.
>>
>> We tried converting the links to UNC paths as suggested
>> by the article KB328440, but ran into a whole different
>> set of issues.
>>
>> Is there any other information on relative and absolute
>> links?
>>
>
>
>.
>
0
jcole4168 (2)
9/12/2003 7:05:24 PM
Well, I can't say I have a full solution, but some ideas pop to mind:

- Excel has, in its long history, had many situations where there were
problems with recalculation, including at least one that required a patch to
XL97. If you search the KB for the word "recalculate" or "recalculation" in
just the title of the article, you'll get plenty of hits, and some may apply
directly to your situation.

- Having said that, in your VBA code that's opening the individual files,
perhaps forcing a recalculation will help out. (Maybe not until appropriate
patch(es) are installed...)

- What concerns me most about your message is this: "We have a lot of users,
so it is hard to keep track of exactly who is doing what."

Boy, if that isn't the "loaded statement of the week." I don't know what is!

Excel is a great program - arguably the best Windows desktop productivity
program ever. But it should always be kept in mind that it is NOT a database
program, and certainly not a multiple-user database engine/database server.
Anytime you get into "a lot of users" in the same file, you are invariably
going to have problems. In fairness, these problems are, for the most part,
not the fault of Excel but rather of the users.

Excel is designed to give the user complete control over what s/he wants to
do with the file; that's the starting point, and you lock down things from
there. But there are many ways to "break" things accidentally, because there
are many ways to do things and even if a programmer tries to anticipate them
all, it's not so easy to think of all the ("dumb") things a user will try to
do that will break a spreadsheet. (This doesn't even include macro viruses
that may creep up from time to time.) So when you say it's hard to keep
track, I say - EXACTLY. This is like herding cats.

Having said all that, you now look for a solution, I'm sure. One thing you
may be able to try is to move the data that is linked to an external
spreadsheet into a database instead, and then query the data points from a
database engine. Access is one choice, but my personal preference would be
for something more robust, like Microsoft SQL Server or another similar
product. By putting the linked data in a database, you eliminate the need to
have the UNC/mapped drive issue, and you also remove the file-locking issues
associated with sharing that file.

Finally, I'll add this: one of the things that happens most often with Excel
causing problems is that people try to use it as a database program, which
it's not. A database engine is designed to deal with the issues of
record-locking and concurrency, to ensure that people don't step on each
others' data. Excel is only rudimentary in this capability, and even so only
on a file basis, not on a row or record basis. This may or may not apply to
your situation, but it is quite common.
-- 
HTH -

-Frank
Microsoft Excel MVP
Dolphin Technology Corp.
http://vbapro.com






"Jack Cole" <jcole@enterasys.com> wrote in message
news:030601c37960$d2384430$a301280a@phx.gbl...
> We are having a couple problems when make the links UNC
> paths.
>
> We have groups of Excel files that we want to update when
> machine generated Excel files change.  We do this with a
> macro that opens all the files and then does a
> recalculate.  This should update the links where both the
> source and destination is file is open.  This is MUCH
> faster than updating links on File-Open.  But sometimes
> Excel doesn't recognize that the file it has open is the
> one specified in the link.   So its link status is "OK"
> rather than "Source is open".  In this case the links
> aren't updated.  This is true even though we open the
> file using the UNC path, and the link specifies the same
> UNC path.  Even more frustration is that it doesn't
> happen all the time. And often if you fiddle around in
> Excel checking things for a few minutes it reverts
> to "Source is open".
>
> Another problem is that the UNC links seem to
> occasionally change to mapped drive links for no apparent
> reason.  We have a lot of users, so it is hard to keep
> track of exactly who is doing what.  But we are pretty
> sure nobody is deliberately changing them.
>
> Another problem with UNC links is that you can't easily
> have a separate test environment since they are
> absolute.  Everybody uses the same set of files.


0
frank8273 (76)
9/13/2003 1:47:28 PM
Reply:

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