Hey Scripting Guy – RTFM

In perfect timing with my last post Ken Puls sent me a great link.

This is a superb illustration of a couple of points:

  1. Invest in learning or stick with what you know?
  2. Non Excel developers seriously under-estimate the power of the market-leading spreadsheet.
  3. Excel skills are ignored everywhere.

For someone with SGs background (scripting guy, Excel ignoramus) the approach probably makes the most sense. There are potentially better approaches depending on a bunch of stuff. Conditional formatting jumps out as a candidate if it is to be dynamic.

So RTFM is maybe a bit harsh in this particular case I think, but it is a shame to see MS folks treating Excel like some dumb grid when it is so powerful.

I guess thereĀ  are plenty of things I do badly rather than learn how to do it right. And there are plenty of things I actively avoid getting into at all (Java for example).

What do you think? Too harsh, too severe?



8 Responses to “Hey Scripting Guy – RTFM”

  1. Harlan Grove Says:

    The value of spreadsheets doesn’t become obvious until one’s first attempt to reinvent automatic recalculation.

    Interesting that the Excel screen image came from Excel 2003. Makes me wonder whether some departments in MSFT have decided to skip Office 2007.

  2. Simon Says:

    They would have had to use a much bigger picture if it was 2007.

  3. MacroMan Says:

    wow, even i know about conditional formatting. MS needs to hire experts on their own products.

  4. Harlan Grove Says:

    More in re the Excel 2003 screen image: shows Excel 2003 could still be usable with the application window shrunk to about 1/8 of the screen. The menu wraps. Get rid of the toolbars, and what’s left is still more functional than trying to use Excel for Windows CE on a dinky PDA screen.

    The ribbon scrolls rather than wraps, doesn’t it? Just occurred to me than Excel 2007 really only functions as intended in full screen mode.

  5. The Ken Puls Blog » Blog Archive » Hey Scripting Guys… on Regular Expressions Says:

    […] for the task, which would have been more efficient. I was so disgusted that I sent it off to Simon Murphy, who posted a bit of a rant on it […]

  6. Eric Says:

    In their (or is it my own?) defence, I did something similar before. Now, I can’t remember exactly why I passed up conditional formatting (I know I strongly considered it), but I believe their might have been performance advantages to this approach in some cases, and some conditions are potentially very complex, possibly impossible to check for using conditional formatting alone.

    Also, the Scripting Guys rock! Their site has helped me out countless times.

  7. Simon Says:

    WE all do stuff that someone else might do differently, or stuff we would do differently next time. Thats not a problem at all.

    This wasn’t a rant about that, it was more driven by the frustration of the constant undervaluing of Excel and Excel skilz that I see and read.

    In actual fact I too have coded formats in rather than use conditional formatting.

  8. jonpeltier Says:

    The only times I’d programmed conditional formatting is when (a) I needed more than the three alternative formats available prior to Excel 2007, and (b) when I needed it in a chart and didn’t want to construct a lot of extra ranges to use multiple series for the task (although the effort is generally worth it).

    The rant about misdirected technical guidance from Microsoft’s internet presence is well placed.

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