Despite not posting since the beginning of the year my traffic has actually gone up every month since. Interesting.. Thanx for your interest.
So why have I not been posting ? It’s kind of based on the old saying that “If you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all”. Perhaps the change in name of this blog explains everything.
Simply put, I believe that Microsoft has finally come up with a great way to get rid of the bad smell that is Microsoft Access. The changes in Access 2013 and their continued complete denial of any future for Access as a client-side tool for use with SQL Server means that maybe it’s time to move on. In addition it is getting harder and harder to get approval to use SQL Server for our solutions anyway as DBA’s work very hard to keep us out.
Access is now offically an end-user app and good luck to them on that. But the complete lack of any interest on their part in developers, and in the Client-Server capabiliies of the product that works so well for us, means that finally they will be able to get rid of that pesky product that doesn’t fit anywhere in Microsoft’s grand scheme of a VBScript run HTML5, SQL Azure world. Let’s not kid ourselves anymore.
On the other hand the new version of Excel 2013 is a DREAM !!!
Finally the Excel Team has pushed the product to a level where not only does it become a serious player in the BI “space”, but it should finally drive traditional spreadsheet developers to learn how “data” really works, where it lives, and how they need to rethink their use of Excel to a great new advantage. But wait… Microsoft has come up with several cool ways to prevent that from happening….
1. The “official” developer story for Excel 2013 is focused on the ability to automate spreadsheets using the domain of “Professional Developers” using Visual Studio. The day of the VBA macro-driven spreadsheet is over even before it really got a chance to mature IMHO. I remember saying publicly that while VBA was definitely more powerful than Lotus 1-2-3 macros, VBA was actually probably over-kill (I still think XLM macros were pretty cool ;-) ) . In the end VBA’s complexity has lead to less and less spreadsheet automation, as I predicted all those years ago. I have not seen anywhere the growth in automated Excel solutions overall despite the growth in the number of people with Excel on their desktops since that time. I remember ten years ago sitting in a meeting in Redmond and hearing the biggest name in Office development say “There are no Office Developers anymore.” But I was there. I wish I’d listened to him then frankly.
Now if we are driven to using VBScript and automating the product through VS and focus on publishing those brain-dead Office Web solutions, the only people who will be able to automate Excel will be people who actually hate Excel and have no interest in doing so at all (nor any appreciation or experience in actually developing Excel spreadsheets). Yet another good move Microsoft.
2. Excel 2013 is the first openly “Data-Centric” version of Excel. Oh sure there’s always been data capabilities in the product, but this is the first version where the entire new capability of the version is driven toward data-centric spreadsheets and away from the “traditional” spreadsheet paradigm.
Ironically, probably because of the fact that most of this new technology has come from the SQL Server Team at Microsoft, the main focus for promotion and testing of the new cersion of Excel has been through the SQL Server BI MDX “gurus”, a small group of mostly men around the world who have only one interest – and that is promoting themselves and keeping everything so complex and out of reach that they can get ALL the business.
3. Last year I wrote a letter to Microsoft telling them how excited I was about the data capabilites in Excel 2013 and suggesting that if they really want to get people that actually USE this new capability they should be going out and promoting the new Data-Centric design realities of Excel 2013. My theory was that this market is HUGE and many, many times the size of the BI “guru” class. If they were to promote this to the long-time, long-suffering Excel poweruser the concepts, joys and productivity gained by understanding how to properly use “data”, how to get to that data and how they need to have an entirely new paradygm for spreadsheet design they would be a HUGE success and mre impritantly for them they would lock people into Excel forever. I also pointed out that without this, all their efforts in PowerPivot, PowerView and SharePoint will be for naught but that I would be willing to help them turn it around ….
Cue the sound of crickets now …
4. This means that large parts of the Business World are going to continue to be run for the near future on badly designed, inefficient, downright dangerous user-designed and usually non-supported, crappy spreadsheets.
We who understand and really appreciate the way to build good spreadsheets that are first and foremost spreadsheets and that now will allow us to even better integrate corporate data into them will be able to scrape by and hopefully some of you will finally be able to move out of your parents’ basement (just kidding on that one).
Excel 2013 is exciting despite the fact that we will still have to function as “Lone Wolves” out there as the big consulting firms will continue to cut us out at every turn with their promises of Nirvana. Wow, if I could only get a fraction of the money I have seen spent on these failed boon-doggles that replaced my good work over the years I’d be able to retire now and you would definitely not be reading this ;-).
So away we go … Lots of exciting new Excel BI technology for us to tinker with. Too bad that most of us actually fall in the category of “believers” who really like doing Excel and really understand the value it CAN provide to companies. Yet in actual fact we should all go do something else I’m afraid.
Feel free to post here or to reach out to me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will keep any direct correspondence strictly private.