2016 version. As the loyal reader of this space well knows, the Spy rates PowerPoint behind Keynote for versatility and beauty, Word behind nearly every possible competitor whether past or present (nonintuitive, not a proper Mac app, has difficulty handling documents with pictures and charts, and cannot work well with very large documents). 

Excel, on the other hand, he has often touted as the single best instance in the most important software category of all. The spreadsheet created the small computer market, and the Spy believes he may have bought the first copy of Visicalc ever purchased up here in the frozen north country. (Later he switched to The Spreadsheet, but never used the bloated Lotus.) He’s got four decades experience building, automating, and using complex spreadsheets, and daily relies utterly on Excel.

This is true at work as well, where faculty budgeting and financial management is done in Vena, a large package of add-ons to Excel for enterprise accounting–slow and non-intuitive, but powerful when you’re used to it

Up to now, Excel’s only major drawback has been that VBA is the poster boy for how not to design a programming language–non orthogonal, poorly documented, and hard to use. (Programming language guru mode off.)

But Excel 2016 takes a series of major steps backward from the 2011 version. First, it has a new tendency to slow or freeze in a variety of situations. This is usually temporary, but sometimes one must terminate it and start over from the last time one saved the working document. Third, it still has the bug where it crashes after a long series of data entries. Save early and often because you will lose data. Solution: periodically save, quit the program and start again. Memory leaks. Sheesh!

Third, functionality has been removed. One can no longer tear off a menu item to a standalone strip, nor can one customize the ribbon. Apparently there is an enterprise version one must buy to retain that functionality. But the fourth and worst problem is that VBA macros that worked flawlessly for years are now broken–the main problem being that VBA dialog boxes no longer function properly.

The Spy has by the usual VBA method of trial and error (lousy documentation) rewritten one piece of code so it works, but two others resist all his efforts so far.  Perhaps it is time to look at a freeware replacement and rewrite his entire 4M of macros. OTOH, contrary to MS statements, Excel 2011 does indeed still work in Mojave, so he may switch back to it and forget the Mac 2016 product until the next product iteration. 

On the third hand, how on earth can a major company of such reputed stature introduce such a wretched downgrade, and after two years still not have it properly operational? Like so many of the Dilbertized aspects of modern computing management, it defies all uncommon sense. We have known the principles of sound software engineering practice for decades. Why do so few practice them?

Oh, and the Spy has other upgrades in process with a view to the day when 32-bit software will no longer run. Sigh. More progress. He’ll let his reader know. TTFN.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics, Interim Dean of Science, and Chair of the University Senate at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His articles, columns, and papers have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals (dead-tree and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972. 

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises: 

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com

opundo : http: //opundo. com

Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org

WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net

WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net

nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books: 

Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca

Publisher’s Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html

The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

*** Paladin on Amazon *** 

Author Site: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07FXML8ZW?tag=geolinkerca-20