The Spreadsheet That Launched A Million Companies
Great post! I'm an engineer and statistician who's forced to use products like Minitab and SPSS (Uggh!) but prefer the visibility of Excel. The one major limitation you failed to mention: < 1 million rows. Excel can't handle larger data. This is the only limitation that really matters.
Completely disagree. Excel is the cockroach of programming languages. It deserves to die now. I can immediately tell good engineers form bad. The bad ones produce graphs made with Excel. You know, the ones that have horizontal gridlines but not vertical ones, etc. Truly dreadful. Don’t get me started on VBA. Excel users are NOT programmers. Excel UI is so bad it’s pathetic. Try moving a column, an operation that should be straightforward but isn’t (why?). Ditch Excel today for a better life!
Slow down on the memes please.
I really think Excel's unsexiness causes product folks to underappreciate how amazing it is as an all-around product success. More than 35 years since v1 rolled out, close to 15% of the global population still uses Excel on a monthly basis. Or, if you find user passion more convincing than numbers, go ahead and google 'excel e-sports'. That's right, the Microsoft Excel World Championships (not to be confused with the also-excel-based Financial Modeling World Cup) aired on ESPN only a few weeks ago with a $10,000 purse. Plus if you're hunting for product opportunities, looking out for any time your target users open spreadsheets to stitch processes together is a great place to start. I've written more about this for interested product managers and designers (but won't abuse the comment section by linking to it here)
Thank you for an excellent essay in evaluating Excel, which I have been using for say 25 years non-stop as an investment analyst/manager. Our software (digital investment solution) was first prototyped almost entirely in Excel and then codified on AWS/Google Cloud. I have to say we are inspired by Excel, too. In the age of SaaS, and as many people are dropping Excel, this is a great reminder Excel is the "bonsai tree of software!"
"We wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft begin to snatch up more companies in no-code." They don't really have to snatch up too many, since they already have developed in-house the biggest low-code/no-code platform out there. Microsoft Power Platform has 25 million monthly active users, out of which 7 million are categorized as monthly active citizen professional developers in this recent interview by Charles Lamanna who's running that business: https://ff.tips/CLPP7M
A major part of Power Platform is built on the legacy of Excel, naturally. Whereas tools like Power Query and Power BI are closely tied to the data analytics side of Excel, the programming part of building application logic is based on Power Fx. It's a "low code programming language" that is as close to Excel formulas as is practically possible in the app context. The tagline for Power Apps has for long been "Think Excel", even before Power Fx as an open source programming language was launched in 2021: https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/what-is-microsoft-power-fx/
While I don't believe that a single dominating product like Excel would ever emerge in the low-code/no-code space, the investments that Microsoft is making in the Power Platform family of products will surely have synergies to help Excel remain relevant for the next 36 years.
It can handle more than a million lines of data now.
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Good stuff man. I don't understand how you can write so much, with young kids! Kudos my man
Years ago I was forced into writing a takeoff analysis for a future military aircraft. The final product (it was always evolving) was quite sophisticated; e.g. it could optimize various variables. Using Microsoft VBA was essential, as was several add-ons. But on nearly fatal flaw was a lack of version control, and saving output data.
Para excel se necesita tener razonamiento y si sabes o eres matemático te hace lo que tu le ordenes hoy en día estan a costumbrados a solo aplastar la tecla o función para que les sirvan. HAY QUE PENSAR Y RAZONAR, nunca has trabajado a fondo con EXCEL
It's fun comparing this with SQL. FWIW I like both, for different purposes. Excel is better for quick and dirty analysis, smaller data sets, and if I don't know exactly what I'm looking for. SQL is better with large data sets and seems like it'd be easier to automate (unsure, never attempted to do that in Excel). But, huge fan of Excel :).
Excel 2003 is easier to use. Also, the ribbon is a pain & the icons are a foreign language. Try using words instead of icons.
excel is the bud light of analysis. it sells a lot but if its your favorite beer then, uh, good for you.
the first time i used a spreadsheet in college i thought it was pure genius, as is dan bricklin. however, using awk/perl/gnuplot for the first time was like tasting my first samuel smith taddy porter. a whole new world opened up.
in no way am i saying everyone should be doing everything in R or python, however, if your toolkit begins and ends with excel, uh, good for you.
Ah, Nope! $$Microsoft. No magic. You don't think think this product can be replicated for 90% of its users and turned out for free?