HTML Tables Import into Excel
Some of the software applications we use daily involve really smart engineering. Take word processors: The algorithms and computation involved in positioning every word of your text according to the justification, font, size, bidirectional alignment, embedded pictures,... It's a really tough problem requiring smart people to solve it. (D)HTML rendering and spreadsheet updates are other example of hard computational problems that are so difficult to solve yet we take it for granted that these programs just work. And let's not even speak about games!
What usually amazes us is not these smart pieces of codes but slick ones. Such as HTML tabular data import into Excel! Let's say you have this nice HTML report produced by someone else and you want to get it back into Excel:
Don't try to copy/paste it from your browser, there's much better: The Web Query dialog.
In the main menu (Excel 2003. Don't know for earlier versions. Excel 2007 is coming tonight to a computer near me), choose Data / Import External Data / New Web Query and type the URL in the address bar. The dialog opens the page and puts a small black on yellow arrow in front of each HTML table in the page.
Click the arrow to select a table and click Import. And here you go: Your table is now in Excel!
Being smart doesn't pay off. Be slick!
There's no rocket science in there: Just a DHTML script to inject the arrow heads and some code to parse the table layout and contents. But it's damn slick if you want my opinion.
So if you want to impress people with your software: No need to be smart. "Just" be slick!