An Excel guy playing with Apple’s Numbers

I’ve done a lot of Excel in my life, and still do. I can’t say I’m very proud of it, but I have to admit that it’s one of the most powerful tools that “normal people” seem to use.

Well, so Apple decided that one of their big Macworld Expo keynote announcement was their new version of iWork, their Office competitor. So I decided to give it a try and see what I thought of it.

As expected, installation is easy and startup is straight-forward. It starts with template choices, which was a surprise for me. I know that pretty much all the office suites have templates, but I think I have repeatedly tried to use them and never found any template that was really helpful to me, so I gave up on them a long time ago. Well, Numbers still has them. And they look pretty with odd things like Home Inventory, Baby Record and even Garden Journal.

But I kept to my normal experience and chose a blank file.

The next thing I notice is that by default it is highlighting the top row and the leftmost column, as if to notice that they should be used in a special way. Excel offers that also, but it’s not the default behavior.

Another thing that struck me at first was the ability to add tables to a table. Not only a simple table, but a pre-formatted table, like a checklist or one that already contains the sum calculation in the bottom. And it can go into the same sheet, embedded under the current table.

I found that concept very interesting. Many times I did want to have one sheet, but multiple different pieces of information with different formatting. Many times I wished Excel had this feature and you didn’t have to keep adding new sheets or putting everything in long set of columns.

I didn’t spend too much time using it, so the only other thing I have to say is that it does have a lot less options than Excel. This could be a very good thing though. People never know even 20% of what Excel can do for them. And when they do, many end up spending a lot of time trying to understand how to do it. For example, what the parameters of v-lookup mean, how to get pivot tables correct, and so on. I can’t tell yet if they’ve removed too much stuff from it to be useless.

I’ll continue giving it a try. I have another 29 days left.

And I might eventually look at the other things you get on the suite, like Keynote and Pages, and post something about them. Now it’s time to follow X’s suggestion and go to sleep. It’s barely 12:30, so that’s certainly better to check if his way of coping with it works for me too.

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