Office fail

One of the better fails I’ve seen from MS Office:

9 Replies to “Office fail”

  1. ok i’m a msft employee so apply grain of salt.

    the expression language for formulas makes it vastly more complicated for the user if 2 workbooks are open with the same name. (for formulas referring to other workbooks)

    =[workbook.xlsx]sheet1!a1 vs =[c:\some\long\ridiculous\path\workbook.xlsx]sheet1!a1

    there are workarounds that could possibly be implemented, but it’s vastly simpler to just disallow it. i mean can you imagine how much the ux would suck if msft did try to implement this back in the 90s?

    1. @frank: I can understand the hassle on the developer end of things, but let me put it to you this way: A computer program should never impose a restriction on a user purely to make the developers’ lives easier. Developers write software for users; users should not have to be subject to arbitrary, asinine constraints imposed so the devs don’t have to write a better API.

  2. Yeah, it’s been that way for a while.

    It can’t handle the same name being opened, though why it can’t combine the location to make it unique is curious.

  3. @Chris/Frank:

    I don’t think Frank meant this was for developers convenience. It is mainly to _not confuse_ the poor user. The poor user won’t be typing in these formulas, just clicking and dragging. Then once he enters a dialog to edit something (a table, conditional formatting, a VLOOKUP, a pivottable definition…) he’d have to grok that full path. That is not going to invite the user to use the features. It’s going to send them crying and run to their devs/sysops to do it for them.

    By definition, that is _un_ userfriendly

  4. @Seth:

    There must surely be a compromise midway between what you call “user-unfriendly” and what I call “arbitrary restriction.” For example, it might store the full path to the linked document but only show it to the user if there is a document open with the same filename that does not exist at that full path (regardless of whether or not the document being linked to is open or not). There are many options between the two extremes, and I don’t think either extreme is right, and I think that with a minimal amount of effort a much better solution could have been developed.

    At least considering how ridiculously overpriced Office is, I’d expect something better than this.

  5. Mmmmm…. you raise an intresting point

    At the price they could probably afford an amusing paperclip toon character that pops up with a message along the lines of

    “It seems like you are opening multiple workbooks with the same name. To avoid confusing the documents and seeing very long names in formulas, you may want to rename one or more of your workbooks now.

    [R]ename book1.xls… [C]ontinue anyway.

    Marvelous feature. I think I’m going to implement it for Open Office

  6. @Chris – I disagree that MS Office is expensive. MS Office Standard is $300 retail (cheaper if you get an OEM version) which is about $100 per application (Excel, Word, PowerPoint). Small Business Edition is around $220 in total ( $73 dollars per application).

    Compare: A game like God of War 3 cost $60, iPod $200 etc. I am pretty sure in terms of value that the price can be justified.

    Visio/Project/Access/Visual Studio is WAY overpriced though. But Excel, Word and PowerPoint is as cheap as chips when you have to compare the value it delivers compared to other items.

  7. Office if overpriced? Since when? There’s a *lot* of code in Office.

    I know OO has come on and for simple things I use it because I’m cheap and don’t normally need Office when I’m out and about – but do bear in mind how hard it is for wannabe competitors to be as polished. (And I started using these things when Word wasn’t a Windows program and 123 was available on SunOS – and I’ve written 123 addins on SunOS too, as well as DLLs and COM objects to run in Excel)

    The biggest difference I perceive from a business usage perspective is how macro programming and combination with line of business systems has a much longer history with Office and this is critical – its really quite hard to ge a comfortable feeling that I could integrate OO with a reuters realtime feed or with a document management database – partly because the documentation around the scripting in OO is dense and feels unfinished and there is little by way of third-party books and examples that go beyond trivia.

    Personally I’d suggest that Microsoft’s *low* pricing on Office is a bigger impediment to any displacement of MS from corporate desktops than anything to do with Windows itself. You obviously disagree and that’s fine.
    (I *don’t care* if I build systems on Windows or not so its not a big deal for me either way – we’re coming at this with different chips on our shoulders)

  8. When I am saying overpriced, I am specifically considering the home/student case. This edition is $150, which your average student is going to use to write papers and maybe throw together a presentation now and then. They probably won’t even touch Excel or OneNote. You can’t really tell me that that’s worth $150, can you?

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