Excel Worksheet tabs


Do you think Excel sheet tabs overlap the wrong way round?

Here is a (rather poor) picture of an alternative:

People often seem to have difficulty deciding which end the first and last sheet should be. In this new version 6 would actually be the ‘top’ sheet. To me this seems to make more sense as it flows from left to right (maybe?). What do you think?

In fact I think the whole tabbed approach is inadequate for many of the spreadsheets I see. I think we need a much richer, more flexible way of navigating. Dick had a good review of a tree view based navigator over on DDOE a while ago. Thats more like it although I would like the ability to group sheets into various logical groups (like inputs, calcs, reports, or UK, Europe, US etc). Especially as people like to use plenty of characters for their sheets names (favourite recent one – ‘5% discounted projection’ (made formulas hard to follow)).

I have an indexing sheet on the codematic site that I often add to big models, but it would be nice if our spreadsheet applications did that for us in a more feature rich way.

Does anyone else feel we need a better way of navigating big models?



7 Responses to “Excel Worksheet tabs”

  1. Dick Kusleika Says:

    How would it look if, say, 3 was selected? Would both 2 and 4 overlap 3?

  2. Ross Says:

    I don’t have an issue with the stacking, but i do think that the nav could be better, esp in big work books, not so sure how though – the way i see it, it’s a bit tricky!

  3. Marcus Says:

    Hi Simon,

    Some of the developers I’ve worked with might have close to 20 sessions (windows) open simultaneously. They then drag the start bar to the left of the screen and auto-hide it. Personally I hate this approach.

    A richer form of navigation would certainly be beneficial. I like the idea of a tree-navigator but can image many users getting confused. Maybe having a toggle option to switch b/w tree view and a simple list (which could be sorted or filtered) could help.

    You could have a modeless form (like the pop-up which appears with Pivot Tables) which displays navigation options. Rather than hiding it, you could collapse it when not in use (remember Lotus’ collapsible dialogs) or have it as a tear off palette.

    (This could lead in to a topic on Excel add-ins. Developer productivity, End user tools…)

    Cheers – Marcus
    08:05 AEST, Current temp: 5.0°C and (very) foggy

  4. Jon Peltier Says:

    I put my start menu on the left, not autosized, but I allow applications to show above it. This displays the taskbar items much more efficiently, and keeps it out of the way while I’m working. It also illustrates that just because Microsoft dictates that a UI should be done one way, they should allow savvy users to optimize it for their own use, which the users understand far better than Microsoft, despite reams of SQM data.

    I do not put separate windows within an application onto the taskbar. How inefficient. I use Ctrl+Tab and Shift+Ctrl+Tab or the Windows menu to find the workbook I need. Even if I have to open More Windows, it’s better than scrolling through a batch of taskbar items.

  5. Charles Says:

    Where needed I usually just build a custom navigator form, based on a table of sheets and their meta-data attributes, which is stored somewhere suitable.

    for smaller jobs just colouring the tabs in groups can help.

  6. Simon Says:

    I hadn’t thought about it that much, probably similar to now, but now you mention it maybe it should keep its place in the stack?

    I show the windows task bar (at the bottom) and have 1 tab per wb. At more than a few wbs that breaks down, but I rarely have to do that.

  7. Namboo Says:

    There are a bunch of add-ins which allow you to get around more easily in Excel. One of (the better ones) is Navipane by Viziware (www.viziware.com).

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