Excel Is Crap, Long Live Excel

I spent the entire day redlining on a data cleansing project for a client. The database is based in excel (as almost all are, in my experience) and I’m once again forced to use VBA linked into excel for my work.

“Real” programmers despise visual basic and I’m starting to agree that it’s a crappy way to analyze anything. But it has one gigantic advantage over other tools: Excel.

Excel is, in my mind, possibly the most remarkable program ever created. I once listened to a podcast with a guy that worked for Microsoft who talked about how the Excel team were the ass-kickers back in the early days.

I’m not surprised. That program has introduced millions of people to the power of automating simple functions (ie computer programming). I suspect the back office of my company is typical: mostly middle-aged, mostly female and mostly born in other countries. Now how many of them thought they’d be building and running simple computer programs for a living?

Yet that is what they do.

I admire Excel and though I immediately select a different tool when I have the choice, I rarely have that choice. The tech boom became a tech bubble for the same reason that postal services still exist: change is cultural as much as it is technological.

Excel is about as much as our society can take for now.

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