I spend a lot of time here writing about the new Office 12 UI. And why
not--it's the project I work on and I'm proud of the work our team is doing.
But in reality, the purpose of any UI framework is to support the programs
using it--and ultimately to enable them to provide awesome user experiences.
One of the things that blows me away in Excel 12 are the new data
visualizations. This is an area in which the new UI technologies (the Ribbon,
Live Preview) and new capabilities in Excel
improvements, new graphics functionality) come together to make something
I use Excel a lot, but I'm not an incredibly hard-core user; generally, I
throw some data in the grid and push it around. Excel for me is a decision-support tool.
I use it to analyze and visualize my data to help make good decisions.
For that reason, the fact that I can make something like the following
picture in just one click in Excel 12 is enough already that I dread having to
use previous versions.
Just one click to apply this automatic formatting in Excel 12
I'm sure it must have been possible to make things like this in Excel
2003--probably through writing fancy VBA code or by finding and buying $200
But I never spent the hours necessary figuring out how to create something
like this. Now that I have these capabilities at my fingertips, I find them indispensable.
"Format as Table" and "Conditional Formatting" on the first tab of Excel might
just be the two commands I use the most frequently in Excel 12.
What really rocks is seeing
Preview in action with Conditional Formatting. As you hover over all the
choices in the gallery, your data is instantaneously updated to show you what
the visualizations look like. Finding the most meaningful one takes just a few
seconds. This is all working in current builds, and it's one of my favorite
parts of Office 12.
If you use Excel to analyze data, you owe it to yourself to read
Conditional Formatting on the venerable Excel team blog. (I'd recommend
starting at the bottom and reading up.)
Have a great weekend everyone!