Favourite spreadsheet feature?

Whats your favourite spreadsheet? And what single feature is your fave? and why?

Here is my answer, and as its my post I am taking the liberty of giving 2 answers! (I spose you could too)

I have used 3 spreadsheets in recent times Excel, OpenOffice Calc and Gnumeric.

My favourite s/s is Excel. Fave feature: pivot tables, because they can save so much time/effort and potential error.

My other favourite s/s is Gnumeric. Fave feature is coming with the source code. My other favourite feature is that Gnumeric stands alone as a spreadsheet, it is not compromised by trying to fit into some standardised office productivity suite.

Why is Excel my favourite spreadsheet? well I’m sure familiarity plays a part, powerful, accessible programability with VBA is a factor. I sort of feel it has a hint more of a business focus or influence, whereas the others have more of a pure maths/statistics focus. Excluding programability I think any of the 3 could do the job most of the time.

cheers

Simon

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7 Responses to “Favourite spreadsheet feature?”

  1. gobansaor Says:

    I’d also opt for pivot tables in Excel. After Excel my favourite s/s is Google Spreadsheets and my favourite feature, collaboration.

    Tom

  2. Jon Peltier Says:

    I have little experience with spreadsheet programs other than Excel. I used 1-2-3 for about two days fifteen years ago, a DOS based version my coworkers had. They had Windows 3.1 on their machines, but kept using the DOS versions of their software because they didn’t understand Windows based UIs. I already used Word for Windows instead of Wordstar for DOS that they used, because I’d recently upgraded to a PC from a Mac, and had used programs with decent interfaces for years.

    Then I found the unused disks for Excel for Windows on someone’s shelf, installed it, and never looked back. So for me, the comparison is between Excel 4, the version of Excel I used before that (3 or 2, I don’t recall), Excel 5, 97, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2007.

    My favorite version is Excel 2003. With this version, I can be most productive. 2003 is the most stable of the versions I’ve listed, and the UI is the nicest (though between 97 and 2003 the differences are mostly cosmetic). 2007 has taken a step backward in productivity, stability, and UI.

    My favorite “feature” of Excel is VBA. VBA gives you power far beyond what the UI features of Excel provide. VBA is really more than a feature, but it actually lets you design your own features, and enhance those in Excel which aren’t quite what you need.

    My favorite user feature (i.e., no VBA required) are pivot tables, because of their speed, flexibility, and raw power. And often I combine pivot tables with VBA to get super pivot tables.

    The single feature that puts 2003 ahead of the other versions of Excel is the List feature, which lets you define a list as a region of a worksheet, a dynamically sized table of values with a header row and autofilter features.

    The list feature has been given steroids in Excel 2007 (a List is now called a Table), and is an example of a non-fluff improvement in Excel 2007. Pivot tables have also been enhanced, though I revert to the classic style so I can drag pivot fields around right on the sheet (I don’t know why that wasn’t retained in the regular style). Many of the changes to Excel 2007 have been visual, for example the UI and the enhanced colors and styles. For the UI, these changes have not been an improvement, because they reduce my productivity (even if I know where the command is, it takes extra effort to access it). In the worksheet, the enhanced styles are nice, but they may prove to be a distraction. It’s now easier to make an attractive report from a worksheet, but also easier to create an abomination. For charts, the UI has added more inefficiencies than to non-chart work, and the colors and styles lead to some absolutely terrible charts. Even the sample charts put forward by Microsoft as fine examples of what Excel 2007 can do, are terrible charts with effects that obliterate any understandable information the charts may contain. In addition, all of the possible styles (bevels, gradients, shadows) lead to terribly slow redrawing of the charts, even if the chart elements make no use of any of these chart junk features.

    I have used Excel 2007 enough to have developed a good understanding of how it compares to previous versions, and I have thought long and hard about the topics and discussion in my review above (not rant). Botom line: my favorite spreadsheet program is Excel 2003.

  3. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    Recently I installed Lotus Notes 8.0 and discovered that it now includes IBM Productivity Tools (spreadsheet, document, presentation). These tools appears to be the light versions of Lotus Office suite. So far I find it interesting enough to explore the spreadsheet tool further.

    Yes, the Pivottables has been, over the time, my favorite as well. However the Pivottable technology exist in other forms as well, like OWC and
    Excel Services. So per se we don’t need to use Excel to work with Pivottables.

    The key aspect of the Pivottable tool for me is the “pivot”-function itself (I’m not sure about the correct spelling of it in French). By rotating the data is viewed in a hollistic way and can provide additional information that may have an impact on the decision process.

    From a strictly technically point of view the latest version of any software is always the “best”. So when it comes to Excel it’s 2007.

    I started out with Lotus 1-2-3 in the mid 80’s and during the years I try to keep myself upto to date with it. As Harlan, in some recents comments here, has pointed out it has some good database formulas/function etc.

    On the Linux platform I use GNumeric because it’s simple the best spreadsheet on that platform.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  4. Jody Says:

    Sounds like I need to get the lead out and finish implementing pivot tables in Gnumeric. Recent focus has been on python wrapper for libspreadsheet (the heart of gnumeric) and OOX import/export.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  5. Marcus Says:

    Hmmm. PivotTables deserves to get loud accolades.

    However, I also like some of the less significant features. The camera tool is one of my favourites as too are the GoTo Special options.

    Annoying Features.
    Excel can’t Freeze ‘and’ Split a screen like Lotus 1-2-3 can (could).

    Cheers – Marcus

  6. Charlie Says:

    My fav features of Excel (2003 is my fav version) are VBA and PivotTables for the reasons stated eloquently above. I would add the outline feature as one that I use a lot – to hide/unhide detail rows/columns.

    –Charlie

  7. Book Review of - Simple Spreadsheets For Hard Decisions | The Money Saving Fifty (50) Says:

    […] Favourite spreadsheet feature? « Smurf on Spreadsheets […]

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