At one time, I used to be a very big fan of Microsoft Excel 5 for Macintosh. Having spent time using newer Windows versions, I can but conclude that it is in fact a very big piece of poo that probably escaped Redmond HQ in fear of its life instead of actually ever being considered ready for release.
- There is no
COUNT, reverse character search and other useful string tools. I have seen workaround code for this from Nathan Oliver that would solve what I was trying to achieve when I wrote this page, but it’s staggeringly complex and intractible. Were these functions available, though, I still believe that we need a fork designed specifically for text processing instead of finance and statistics. Why should spreadsheets be targeted only at numeric workflows?
#VALUE!instead of 0 or -1 on error. Confusingly, error handling for these becomes
#VALUE!is an error return that can be passed as a parameter, not a fatal error message.
- It still enforces the absurd assertion that only one file per name may be open at once:
- Selecting an Excel window A, then window B, from the taskbar, and then minimising the current window (e.g. by clicking its taskbar button), does not leave window A open as you would have expected. Selecting window B effectively stole window A off the screen and repurposed it for B, so minimising window B removes the only visible Excel window from the screen. Oddly, Word in the same versions of Office does not do this. Further, one cannot select several Excel taskbar buttons (with ctrl-click) and perform any action on them, as all the context menu items are greyed out, a Windows-related flaw shared seemingly with Adobe Reader.
- Save clears the undo buffer. Auto-save clears the undo buffer. A fatal mistake followed by an auto-save will leave you screwed. (Best keep back-up copies of documents.)
- Drag to automatically scroll rapidly goes out of control, inhibiting drag-and-drop operations.
- Once you’ve filtered data in-place to remove duplicate rows, you cannot commit the filtering by having Excel discard the duplicate rows.
- You cannot do Paste Special after Cut.
- Undo is shared, interleaved, across all open documents! This is one of the most absurd things I have ever seen. Changes made to each open document form a single undo list, such that undoing a set of changes in one document will include undoing all contemporary changes to all other open documents. (I had another look at Excel 98 for Macintosh only to find that it makes the same mistake, as well as all of the rest that apply to Mac OS)
- You cannot drag multiple selections. I can understand there being reasons for this in some cases (e.g. merged cells) but Excel could at least try!
- It implements its own made-up version of copy and paste, where deselecting what was copied clears the clipboard. I cannot see what is the matter with copy and paste the way it works in 99.99% of other software, tried and tested.
- Drag and drag and drop operations cannot be cancelled by hitting the escape key!
For reference, most of these problems seem to have been present from Excel 97 through to Excel XP; i.e. according to Redmond, Excel is supposed to be like this. I am concerned.