More fun with Excel 2007…

Work’s keeping me rather busy at the moment, so I haven’t had as much time as I would like on here. I did think, though, that I should spare a moment to write a little more about my continuing exploration of Excel 07. I have to admit to being perhaps a little harsh in my first evaluation, so it’s only fair that I post a little positive feedback where I think it’s due.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been re-configuring a monthly balance sheet used by an NPO my dad does some work for. I have to say, once I got started exploring the new UI, and once I got past the where-the-hell-has-feature-x-gone stage, I was really impressed. Here are some of the things that really stood out for me:

  1. Formula auto-completion. When you write a lot of formulae, the Intellisense drop-down is a godsend. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Name manager. This is a very cool feature, much easier to use than the standard define names dialog. I particularly like the ability to easily change the scope of a name using a drop-down list. No more copy/paste-ing sheet names! Also, comments on names – fantastic idea, which is really going to save time spent on documentation.
  3. Tables. Lists have morphed slightly, into tables, and they are much easier to work with than previously. Structured references, in combination with the Intellisense feature and the ability to edit the table name, are going to save me a lot of work I think.
  4. It’s pretty. (I admit it, I’m a sucker for eye candy on the desktop.) While there are some aspects of the interface I am still coming to terms with (the ribbon being one), a lot of the changes to styles, formats and the way they’re applied have functional benefits, as well as just being prettier than they were in 03. Basically, the less time I have to spend formatting a spreadsheet the better, and the new setup allows more to be done with fewer clicks. Good.

So there you have it – I’m warming to 2007. Finally.

3 thoughts on “More fun with Excel 2007…

  1. jonpeltier says:

    0. This gray text on black background is very hard to read.

    1. Formula autocompletion is very nice. If I didn’t dislike the rest of Excel 2007 I might have a chance to get used to it.

    2. The name manager in Excel 2007 is almost as good as the Name Manager add-in built by Jan Karel Pieterse and available free for Excel 2000 and up (

    3. The new referencing in tables is confusing. It’s relative only, not absolute. When I have a reference to a named column, it is counterintuitive that it would be relative. My gut tells me it looks absolute, so I treat it as such, and it gives unexpected results.

    4. It’s pretty, or pretty ugly, I can’t decide which. The new chart formats use nicer colors but worse other formats (lines too thick, markers too large). The way objects are highlighted when selected is harder to work with than before. (Select the plot area or chart area of a chart and change the border color. Can you tell what you’ve just done?) Charts look terrible when they are exported as images or copied as pictures, pasted, and ungrouped.

  2. geoffness says:

    Thanks Jon, and agreed about the theme – I was trying it out but it wasn’t working…
    And agreed also about the structured references – I hadn’t needed to keep them as absolute in that instance, but you’re right, that is counter-intuitive.
    I haven’t used charts at all yet in 2007, but I’ll take your word for it. That is disappointing to hear.

  3. James Standen says:

    I’m totally with you re the ribbon… Can’t get my brain to accept it yet.

    But its nice to have more space on the sheet (even if actually trying to use a all million plus rows doesn’t actually go so well), and the data connection functionality is not half bad.

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