Eusprig 2010

Pack yer party frocks its nearly time for Eusprigs annual conference.

In my opinion this is a must attend event for anyone serious about professional spreadsheeting. It should also be required for anyone contemplating spreadsheet management/migration/quality/control projects. Why make all your own mistakes when you can invest 2 days, a couple of hundred quid and learn from others, bypassing a heap of pain (and cost) for your own organisation/project?

There are two key aspects

  1. The technical conference content, including several schools of thought on best practice (not sure whether to bring my cornering kit, or my gum shield and boxing gloves) spreadsheet quality project post mortems, and lots of original research. And not just wishy washy stuff – proper, well designed experiments that really focus in on key issues. I am particularly looking forward to the slot demonstrating that names make spreadsheets harder to understand. I’ve had plenty of rows on that very topic.
  2. Social/networking – where else do you get the opportunity to buy drinks for big cheeses at the FSA, and big cheeses from the spreadsheet audit/management software vendors, and student bludgers? At least that’s how I remember it.

Full conference details (including dates: Thur/Fri 15th – 16th July, and venue: Greenwich Uni London, England, and agenda etc) are here.

I’m giving a keynote first thing Friday (which seems a bit harsh!).

Why not combine it with the Excel Dev Conf for the full spreadsheet-oholic effect?

Are you going to Eusprig??

If not why not? (serious question) – what would need to change for you to attend?

cheers

Simon

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19 Responses to “Eusprig 2010”

  1. Bob Phillips Says:

    EUR 395? A large price drop!

    That session is entitled ‘How do Range Names Hinder Novice Debugging Performance’, which is hardly ‘… demonstrating that names make spreadsheets harder to understand…’. Many things are hard for novices.

  2. Simon Says:

    But mine slips off the tongue a little easier I believe, without much distortion.

  3. Bob Phillips Says:

    It is just rephrasing it to coincide with your view. I am of the opposite view, and would love to hear the argument against (if indeed that session is making such a case which the title suggests to me that it isn’t). Whenever I have discussed with those who have made such assertions, the best I have gotten out of them is that it is harder to audit, to which my stock reply is that if a person is not familiar with defined names and how to track them down then that person should not be auditing said spreadsheet. The argument then invariably changes to that too many names can corrupt a workbook, which is a different argument altogether.

    Anyway, would love to attend, but cannot justify the overall cost.

  4. Biggus Dickus Says:

    No I’m not going … but I think EUSPRIG is a great organization for people in the EU who want to connect with other spreadsheeters. The U of G is a cool place by the way.

    I’d love to go there and talk about PowerPivot (which is a serious addition to Excel 2010) but don’t think that’s the target kind of issue of EUSPRIG.

    I wish we could create something like it in Canada frankly but we’re just too spread out across a country where the bulk of the population is in a range 3000 miles wide by 100 miles deep along the US border :-).

    Have a great time.
    Dick

  5. Charlie Hall Says:

    I was intrigued when I saw the title of their paper on range names a while ago – so investigated and asked to see the actual test workbooks. Only then did I get a sense of why they were drawing their conclusions. They were comparing a model with range names for every cell – meaning a unique name for every cell in a table, not just variables. So with so many range names, the model was just not practical and yes it would be hard to debug (for expert or novice). I did offer to provide a more practical model for their tests, and to provide guidance on how range names are best used, but they were not interested – I am guessing they didn’t want to change their conclusions.

    Dick, I live in Toronto, so would be glad to help out if you wanted to organize something – wondering how many XLers are in central Canada

    • Biggus Dickus Says:

      Yeah Charlie – that’d be great !! I’m in London (where my car rocked back and forth at a stop-light around 1:40 today by the way :-))…

      Let’s talk about that. I have contacts in MS that might be able to help us pull smething together. Maybe we can get Mr. Smurf to come over and talk to us about what he knows too ??

      Dick
      dick@plogic.ca

  6. Charlie Hall Says:

    Simon, am I reading this correctly – the Excel Dev conference is Mon July 12 and the EuSpRIG is July 15 and 16th? Are you offering tours into the countryside for the days in between?

  7. Simon Says:

    Dick I would be delighted to come to Canada
    Charlie, yep its spreadsheet week that week, although no tours between, I think I’ll be working.
    Bob my view is that a blanket belief that named ranges improve things is naive. I havent yet met a spreadsheet that couldn’t be made worse by defining a few hundred named ranges.

  8. Bob Phillips Says:

    Simon, but you are again confusing bad practice with bad implementation. Of course you can easily show a bad example of of range names, if Charlie is correct then that is certainly a biased experiment with no merit; I could easily show you a bad implementation of VBA, is VBA bad? Entitle the presentation to ‘Defined/Range Names Are Bad Practices in Excel Spreadsheets’, and I think you would be treading thin ice.

    Charlie, if you come over, I would be delighted to show you the delights of the Jurassic Coast for a couple of days.

  9. Simon Says:

    Bob I’m not confusing anything
    you are continuing to confuse my view that names aren’t the panacea their most ardent and vocal supporters think, for my being anti-names, which I am not.

  10. Biggus Dickus Says:

    I don’t like the tone of the “Names” session because Names are VERY important to good Excel development. But I agree that they could be overused.

    In effect I use Range Names for what would best be described as “Variables” llike in code. So I will name a cell “CurYear” and place the active year in that cell and refer to it around the spreadsheet in formulae. I use Named ranges for Variables I refer to in Code and also in the Spreadsheet and that is imperative for proper development.

    I also name Ranges I refer to in Lookups and when using database data.

    On the other hand I don’t use Names for regular cell references in columns (“=a1*a2”) because that would be actually harder to debug than if we name things and use arrays and stuff. Too smart by half.

    It would irresponsible to give users trying to do better spreadsheets to tell them not to use Names.

    Dick

    • Biggus Dickus Says:

      And as much as I LOVE Structured References that’ll REALLY mess up users if you take that same “No Names” meme.

      I’m really surprised that Structured References are NEVER discussed in any Excel on-line Community I visit (??) maybe now that people are probably going to decide they HAVE to move to 2010 (or even 2007) we may be able to start using them. They are cool IMHO..

      Dick

  11. Bob Phillips Says:

    Simon,

    I have never heard anyone claiming that names are a panacea, but I have heard many claim that names are a good practice in effective well-designed spraedsheets, a view that I would ally to myself. I have heard many people claim that names are a bad practice, but have yet to hear a convincing argument to support such a view.

    As I said before, I would suggest that almost any practice in almost any field can be abused, but if you take the sensatiponalist approach that that EUSprig topic suggests then I would further suggest that you start to lose credibility.

  12. Simon Says:

    Bob, you don’t move in the same circles as me then, I’ve heard names are a panacea loads of times. (they have plenty of fans at Eusprig for example)
    How many effective well designed spreadsheets have you ever met in the wild?
    I never have, and names are just one of the many elements I see abused in spreadsheets everywhere, like VBA, like formulas etc etc.
    I’ll do a post about names as I suspect we agree but present our view with different emphasis.

  13. Charlie Hall Says:

    Simon, my experience is different from yours – I agree to rarely finding well designed spreadsheets in the wild, but I also rarely find spreadsheets where range names were used, and even rarer where range names were overused.

    So based on my experience, my emphasis is to get people to use range names for their obvious benefits. Research that is not balanced in their presentation of the benefits and weaknesses of range names, and that people can use to justify not using range names at all, causes me concern.

  14. Bob Phillips Says:

    Simon, it is clear that we move in different circles, you are a Northern er, and I am avowedly a Southerner .

    But again, the fact that I rarely meet well-designed spreadsheets is not the issue. They are not badly designed because they use names, they are badly designed because they are badly designed.

    And being a fan doesn’t make you a narrow-view, tub-thumping evangelist. I love names, but I would readily admit that naming thousands of individual cells does not make sense. As I said before, that is bad implementation, not <>, and certainly not <>.

    But I am sure you are right, we most likely hold a similar view, but I don’t have to support a blog

  15. Bob Phillips Says:

    Try again.

    Simon, it is clear that we move in different circles, you are a Northern er, and I am avowedly a Southerner <g>.

    But again, the fact that I rarely meet well-designed spreadsheets is not the issue. They are not badly designed because they use names, they are badly designed because they are badly designed.

    And being a fan doesn’t make you a narrow-view, tub-thumping evangelist. I love names, but I would readily admit that naming thousands of individual cells does not make sense. As I said before, that is bad implementation, not <<How do Range Names Hinder Novice Debugging>>, and certainly not <<demonstrating that names make spreadsheets harder to understand>>.

    But I am sure you are right, we most likely hold a similar view, but I don’t have to support a blog <ebg>

  16. sam Says:

    I use names a lot. But there is a flip side…As most users are not even aware of their existence…they just copy / move a sheet into another file and end up creating “Ghost” names…
    I have seen scores of files with literally 1000’s of ghost names….creating all kinds of problems

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