Friday, June 06, 2008

Interesting article about Excel

An recent article by ZDNet--Taking on Excel, and Winning, Sort Of--discusses the value of using Excel spreadsheets for a variety of applications. It's ubiquity, ease of use and functionality are reasons given; here's a quote: " the floppy disk icon that never dies, the Excel spreadsheet lives on and on...This ubiquity and staying power says volumes about what users want...and their continued votes in favor of a 20-plus year old user experience should give everyone who believes that the best technology deserves to win a deserved pause. Excel works well-enough for millions of users all day long..."

Following is the comment I posted:

As a self-taught programmer, I’ve been building spreadsheet applications for nearly 30 years--from Visicalc through Lotus 123 and Excel. Many of the criticisms of Excel are due to people’s ignorance of what its engine can do; mathematical computations are just a small part of its capabilities. By combining spreadsheet formulas with VBA macros and Active-X forms, it is also quite competent at database queries; XML consumption; logic-based analysis; pivot tables enabling multidimensional reports; parsing and concatenating text; dynamic presentations that include not only charts and graphs, but also a wide variety of pictures/images; and on and on.

In fact, I've developed numerous macro-driven Excel-based applications in which users wouldn't even realize it's a spreadsheet. And with the advent of Excel 2007, it’s become very a secure technology, which is also able to serve as a large flat file database (although it’s not meant to replace all databases).

I’ve also developed a patented process and use Excel to implement it. This discontinuous/disruptive technology enables loosely coupled peer-to-peer networks of publisher-subscriber nodes to share massive amounts of information with extraordinary efficiency. One such Excel-based application, which I’m about to release for public review, is a unique personal health record. Another is a unique continuity of care record software system, which I’ll be offering to the open source community. A common comment from people is “I can’t believe Excel can do all this!”
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