Friday, 6 March 2015

FCell 3.0 and Updates

FCell 3.0

FCell 3.0 has now been released - see  http://fcell.io/

This release includes a significant number of enhancements - see the What's New section of the online documentation at http://fcell.io/Help_3_0/Index.html.

One feature that may prove to be a very useful for actuarial modelling is the "FCell Calculation Engine". This is described as follows:
  • FCell Calculation Engine is a runtime component which can be used to programmatically build Excel-like, cell and formula based models.
  • The Calculation Engine is a pure .NET component and can be used in and out of Excel, e.g. in F# Interactive. The API is C# and VB.NET friendly.
  • It is very similar in concept to Excel calculation engine: you create cells, set their values or formulas which depend on values in other cells. Cells with formulas are manually or automatically recalculated in the correct order, e.g. if cell A depends via its formula on cell B then B will be recalculated first.

I am very keen to investigate this further!

I have updated Mortality Manager to use FCell 3.0 and also updated a number of the supporting components that I use. The sections below describe how you can get this updated version either as a Workbook or an XLL file.

Workbook Customisation

I have produced an updated version as a standalone workbook for 64 bit Excel. This is available from bitbucket at MortMgrVFC3_64bit.xlsm.

Once you download this file, you can simply open it in Excel:

Simply follow the instructions in the GettingStarted sheet to be able to replicate the examples contained in the workbook.

Excel Customisation

The other option for obtaining Mortality Manager is as an .XLL file. This provides the Ribbon, Custom Task Pane and UDF additions included in Mortality Manager using a single file.

I have created a version of the XLL for 64 bit Excel 2010. This is also available from bitbucket at MortMgrFC3_64bit.xll.

    (N.B. If you get a message that the XLL is in an invalid format then either you are trying to use the wrong version or your computer is missing the Visual C++ runtime for Visual Studio 2012, which is required by these XLLs. For the latter issue please use the installer available from Microsoft at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30679.)

    Once loaded, you should see the Mort Ribbon and additions in the function wizard, e.g. a new category MortMgrUdf.Mort.

    To get started, I suggest using the following steps:
    1. On the Mort Ribbon select "Settings". Specify local folders to store local versions of tables and to store Transitory data when importing from the SoA site, e.g. "C:\Mort\Local" and "C:\Mort\SoA". N.B. Create these folders first and then browse to select them using the "..." button.
    2. Restart Excel to get these settings reloaded. Re-open the Settings dialog and confirm that the folders are still correctly set.
    3. Using the SoA toggle button to open the SoA Task Pane. Use the "Reload Index from Website" button - this may take some time! Confirm that the file "soaindx.json" has been create in the SoA folder, e.g. in C:\Mort\SoA
    4. Import some sample Select and Ultimate tables. For example, in the SoA Task Pane select a Nation of "United Kingdom". Select the checkboxes for the tables "ELT No. 16 (2000-02) - Female, ANB", "ELT No. 16 (2000-02) - Male, ANB", "AFC00" and "AMC00". Import using the "Import" button. Confirm that new json files appear in the local tables folder, e.g.  in C:\Mort\Local.
    5. In the CMI 2012 Task Pane, select Get Sample Results and then Save Rates to create a default set of Projected Rates.
    You should then be able to use the Task Panes included to view the tables, compare tables and calculate various factors. You should also be able to get results from the tables using the UDFs provided.

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