Education Category Information:

The Solver add-in is quite popular in higher education, especially MBA programs.  It is used by teachers and students learning about analytics and optimization.

  • Subjects:  (i) Math, (ii) Business, Finance and Economics, (iii) Engineering and Technology.
  • Age ranges:  Higher Education.

Video Demo:

For an illustration of the user interface, please watch our video demo on YouTube.  This was made before we added the "Insert Example" button (see below).

Example Models for Testing:

In response to feedback on the last testing report ("It is not clear how to configure or use the add-in, or how the user would benefit from using the add-in"), on a new worksheet where no Solver model is defined, explanatory text now appears in the fields where cell selections normally appear.

Also, where possible (Excel 2016 and Excel Online, but not Excel for iPad), we have added an Insert Example button at the bottom of the main Task Pane display.  Clicking this button inserts a new worksheet into the workbook, called "Product Mix", containing a complete example optimization model (similar to the one in the video), and auto-populates the entries in the Task Pane for this model, so you can immediately click the arrow to solve.  This won't appear in Excel for iPad until Microsoft updates its JavaScript APIs -- then it will appear.

Other examples: You can use the SolvSamp.xls workbook shipped with desktop Microsoft Excel, normally found at C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Officexx\SAMPLES\SOLVSAMP.xls.  Be sure to convert this Excel 97-2003 workbook to xlsx form, so it can be used in Excel Online or Excel for iPad.  Worksheets other than the Quick Tour contain predefined Solver models.

More examples: Visit to download a set of example workbooks.  You could register to create an account on our site, using either of the forms on this page – it's free.  If you don't want to do that, enter this username and password in the upper right corner, and click the Login button:
Username:  msapptest
Password:  ErikOlsen
After logging in, go to  (Registering on the above page takes you directly to this page.)  Click one of the links on this page, for example "Production Models," then click to download Production Examples.xlsx.

Points to Remember:

The new Answer Report and Sensitivity Report are available only if Microsoft's "new JavaScript object" API is available.  Currently this is true in Excel 2016, not in Excel 2013; it appears that it has just become true in Excel Online, but it is not yet true in Excel for iPad.  If the Answer Report and Sensitivity Report are available, you will see a button at the top right corner of the Task Pane, between the X (Reset) and Arrow (Solve) buttons.

When you click the Diagnose or Solve buttons, our backend (RASON) server requests the Excel workbook, using an OAuth token.  The first time this is done, the Trust It pop-up window will appear (be sure that pop-ups are not blocked in your browser).

As noted in the video, it is important that the saved version of the Excel workbook includes all changes relevant for solving the optimization problem.  Auto-Save in Edit mode seems to occur only once every 30 seconds.  So until there is faster Auto-Save or a Save button, it is best practice to use File Save As to save the workbook before clicking Diagnose or Solve.  You should be able to test the add-in with Excel workbooks stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or a SharePoint site.

To address other issues noted in the last testing report, we have followed recommendations in this Microsoft article to implement workarounds for several issues faced by add-ins that connect to Office 365: the lack of identity information, problems with pop-up windows, and issues with OAuth token cache management.  In particular, in this version we are caching refresh tokens server-side, instead of relying on cookies in the browser, which behave very inconsistently between Edge, IE, Chrome, etc.

It is still true that occasionally, Microsoft's Office 365 login process fails for unknown reasons, yielding a message such as "Sorry, but we're having trouble signing you in. We received a bad request."  This message periodically appears when you simply enter login credentials at  If you encounter this message when entering credentials during the add-in authorization process, please just try again, as all users do when attempting to login to Office 365.

If you have questions, please email Edwin Straver or call 775-831-0300 x110. Thank you.