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Discussion on: A Love Letter to Excel: 34 Years of Magic ✨

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paddy3118 profile image
Paddy3118

It reads like a love letter to a dictator who favours you.
There's a European spreadsheet risks interest group that show some past horrors: eusprig.org/horror-stories.htm

The more complex a spreadsheet, the less amenable it is to good software practices such as testing, diffing, and maintenance.

It's flash, and prone to overuse

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stephsmithio profile image
Steph Smith Author

Thanks for sharing, but I'll respectfully disagree. I love Excel because it enables me to do things that I can't find in other tools. I'm not stuck with it and have tried other tools, but I just find the functionality fundamentally more intuitive.

As for the risks, there are risks that come with any tool. Almost all (if not all) of the horror stories cited there are due to human error, which could easily be made with other tooling.

The same argument that cars pose risk can be made, yet we all still continue to use cars because of the ease of use and value add. See this response on Quora for a more thorough explanation: qr.ae/TWypRN.

The beauty of Excel is that it is a tool that can be so widely used. Hopefully this will change, but many other tools that require a steeper learning curve (even if this is paired with better testing and maintenance) and that's exactly why they don't have mass adoption. And as the Quora response illustrates, the percent of errors created compared to the scale of the tool is surprisingly small relative to the value delivered.

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paddy3118 profile image
Paddy3118

I note that you link for support from someone who worked at Microsoft. My link is collated by, for example, A UK tax inspector that needs to investigate returns including spreadsheets.

Do you test, diff, or need to maintain spreadsheets? Spreadsheets from others? How do you ensure that function is replicated over the whole column? How do you know what has changed? Is that spreadsheet still consistent? ...