Saturday, May 16, 2015

A World in Disarray: Excel 2013

Pictured below is a squeezed-down version of Excel 2013. Across the top is the one toolbar I'm allowed to have in this "improved" version of Excel. One toolbar, followed by the workbook name and the five standard URC buttons.

Below that, the second line displays what appears to be a menu of sorts, though it differs from the old "FILE... EDIT... VIEW... INSERT..." menu of the old Excel. Notice how the labels on this menu have been cropped because I made Excel too narrow to show the whole words. How crude is that! We have the command PAGE L, short for PAGE LAYOUT. We have FORM, short for FORMULAS. We have DEVEL ("DEVELOPER"). And we have ADD-I ("Add-Ins"). And we have my name, part of my name, there on the right.

What the hell is my name doing there? I hate the new Excel.

Next below the line that appears to be a menu is "the ribbon" -- a big, wide chunk of the screen that takes up as much space as four or five rows of data. This is a complete waste of screen space. Of course, there is a way to hide the ribbon -- the fourth button from the right, of those five URC buttons in Excel's upper right corner. But if I hide the ribbon, how can I show you what a piece of shit it is?


I was trying to find something on the ribbon, and ended up at Keyboard access to the ribbon in the Excel Help. "The ribbon comes with new shortcuts, called Key Tips", the Help says...

To make the Key Tips appear, press Alt.

To display a tab on the ribbon, press the key for the tab--for example, press the letter N for the Insert tab or M for the Formulas tab.

Along with the explanation, the Help provides an image showing the letter N partially overlaid upon the Insert text and the letter M intruding upon the text of the Formulas tab. But let me ask a question: If you can't find the menu item you're looking for, does it really help to litter the screen with bird-droppings?

I don't think so.

Of course, Excel doesn't call them bird-droppings. Excel calls them "Key Tip badges".

Badges? Yeah, we have badges in the new AutoCAD as well. Fuck badges. In AutoCAD I added something to the initialization script that I use all the time, to turn badges off. AutoCAD keeps turning them on again. I end up initializing more than I need to, simply to turn badges off.

It's really a matter of who is going to be in control of the things I'm doing on the computer. I insist on being in control. As a result, my productivity suffers while I duke it out with AutoCAD.

Supply-side economics at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.


But the Excel Help was saying

... for example, press the letter N for the Insert tab or M for the Formulas tab. This makes all the Key Tip badges for that tab's button's appear.

So I pressed N for Insert, and I got a whole new slew of bird droppings:

Is that helpful, really? Is it neat and orderly? Is it better than this:

Plus I got five rows for data instead of two, in a smaller Excel window!!!

The first item on my menubar here is SJ. That's something I made for work, a custom menu containing custom menu items that I created. But that was back in the day when you were allowed (and even encouraged) by Microsoft to do such things. Today such things are discouraged and disallowed.

But anyway, just to the right of my SJ menu we find FILE... EDIT... VIEW... INSERT... and more. That's how the menu used to be, since the 1990s. That's how I knew it since the 1990s. And after a while it was intuitive and you didn't have to wonder where you might want to look to find something.

For example, if you want to insert a picture into your spreadsheet, from a file that you have, you click INSERT, and the INSERT menu appears, and you read down the list till you find PICTURE and click that, and a sub-menu appears, and you read down that list till you find FROM FILE, and then you go get the file. It's neat and orderly, and it's not all littered with bird droppings.

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