We've just released Analytic Solver® V2021, both Desktop and Cloud versions, for Excel for the Web, Windows and Macintosh. This new release makes it easier to build reusable models -- with custom functions you can write yourself -- and it greatly simplifies the task of deploying analytic models in cloud-based applications. This release also gives you all the capabilities discussed in our post about Analytic Solver V2020.5:

  • 15 new PSI Simulation Functions enable easy cloud use of time series simulation methods
  • 9 new PSI Optimization Functions enable live sensitivity results on worksheets
  • Analytic models in Excel or RASON work in Power BI, Tableau, server and desktop apps
  • New Deployment Wizard enables business analysts to create RESTful services themselves
  • Manage Models dialog enables monitoring of deployed cloud services from within Excel
  • Multi-stage “data science flows” in Analytic Solver are deployed as RASON decision flows

As before, Analytic Solver enables business analysts who aren’t data scientists to build and solve analytic models themselves.  It works closely with RASON, our Azure-hosted platform, to empower you to ‘publish’ and manage analytic models as RESTful decision services, easily usable in Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, or any app that can consume JSON or OData.

"Analytic Solver Desktop" is a traditional Excel add-in (using COM) that works (only) in Excel for Windows; "Analytic Solver Cloud" is a modern Office add-in (using JavaScript) that works in Excel for Windows, Excel for Macintosh, and Excel for the Web.  You get access to both versions with any paid or trial Analytic Solver license.

In years past, Excel-savvy analysts used VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) to define their own custom functions.  While this still works in Excel Desktop using COM (28-year-old Component Object Model), VBA functions are not supported in Excel for the Web – and according to Microsoft, VBA and COM will never move to the cloud.  If you want your custom functions to work in both desktop and cloud, your options have been limited – until now:

  • Microsoft has introduced new Excel functions LAMBDA and LET. These are very special because you can use them in Excel formulas to define your own custom functions.  The Excel community has expressed much excitement over these new functions, since they effectively make Excel a “complete programming language”.   (In Q1 2021, these functions are being rolled out across the different Office update channels.)
  • On another front, there’s the open standard known as DMN (Decision Model and Notation) – a business user-friendly “formula language” used to define business rules and decision tables, supported in “decision management” platforms from various vendors, and in Analytic Solver and RASON since late 2019.  DMN – now in version 1.3 – offers a way to define your own custom functions, known as “Box functions”.

Analytic Solver V2021 includes support for both Excel’s LAMBDA and LET functions, and for DMN-compatible Box functions.  You’ll find a new chapter in the Frontline Solvers User Guide, “Using Custom Functions”, that explains how to use both approaches.  Even better, LAMBDA and LET, and DMN Box functions enjoy full support from our PSI Interpreter – which means that our full range of Solver Engines, and our high-speed Monte Carlo simulation engine “understand” and take full advantage of custom functions that you define this way.  This can yield better results than you’ve ever had with VBA-based functions that are embedded in an optimization or simulation model.