Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 19th Aug 2007 18:57 UTC
Apple "Apple's iWork '08 boasts improvements to the software suite's word processing and presentation applications, but - more importantly - it fills the suite's spreadsheet hole with Numbers. eWEEK Labs ran Numbers through its paces, and found it to be a strong addition to the productivity software market and a promising alternative to Microsoft Excel."
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alternative?
by pistooli on Sun 19th Aug 2007 19:09 UTC
pistooli
Member since:
2005-07-09

A good software for home user, who is dealing with excel tables occasionly... not for the corporate user... but again, it is perfect for most tasks at home. I like it...

Reply Score: 2

RE: alternative?
by christianhgross on Sun 19th Aug 2007 21:45 UTC in reply to "alternative?"
christianhgross Member since:
2005-11-15

I agree with you completely. This is not an alternative to a power spreadsheet user.

Reply Score: 1

Good for home users
by schoate09 on Sun 19th Aug 2007 19:25 UTC
schoate09
Member since:
2007-08-19

Great way for someone who needs a few spreadsheets done and doesn't want to pay for office. Pages and keynote obviously are enough for most home users/students.

Reply Score: 1

There is a market...
by Buck on Sun 19th Aug 2007 19:35 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

There is a huge market for a spreadsheet app like Numbers, I believe.
I know a business where they have to do some graphically intensive comparison tables and they just do those in Photoshop because Excel is too tabular and lacks that freedom of moving stuff around. There are many other folks who want to find a way to manage their tables in a meaningful way. I, for one, am impressed.

Reply Score: 3

RE: There is a market...
by codehead78 on Mon 20th Aug 2007 09:31 UTC in reply to "There is a market..."
codehead78 Member since:
2006-08-04

Never expected to be wowed by a speadsheet app... ever. One thing that would have been really cool, which I didn't see Steve demo, would be to create animations based on a spreadsheet graphic in Keynote.

Reply Score: 1

RE: There is a market...
by Laurence on Mon 20th Aug 2007 12:12 UTC in reply to "There is a market..."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

"There is a huge market for a spreadsheet app like Numbers, I believe.
I know a business where they have to do some graphically intensive comparison tables and they just do those in Photoshop because Excel is too tabular and lacks that freedom of moving stuff around. There are many other folks who want to find a way to manage their tables in a meaningful way. I, for one, am impressed."


Of course Excel is tabular. What else would you expect from a spreadsheet?
As for freedom of moving stuff about - Excel is one of the most flexible spreadsheet packages i've used. I suggest that if your business is now using photoshop for their tables then perhaps what they really wanted was a desktop publishing package rather than a spreadsheet.

Reply Score: 4

RE
by Kroc on Sun 19th Aug 2007 19:51 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

I've enjoyed Numbers immensely. It's intuitive, quick to pick up, surprisingly compatible (as well as Pages/Keynote), and very hassle-free. I like it so much I think Excel is going into the bin.

It's not for everybody, but then - not everybody needs Excel (though they, and MS, think they do)

Reply Score: 3

RE
by hobgoblin on Mon 20th Aug 2007 14:50 UTC in reply to "RE"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

after looking at the videos over on http://www.apple.com/iwork/numbers/ i can agree.

it looks like a cross between a spreadsheet and a layout program, but what surprised me where the pop out sliders and common tasks sidebar.

while im not going to pick up a mac just for it, im happy running kde on top of linux, complete with koffice, i can see how tossing something like this at less computer interested people have its place.

the funny thing is that microsoft have a package similar to iworks iirc. its known as ms works http://www.microsoft.com/products/works/default.mspx

i know at least one person that at least in the past prefered it to ms office.

but interestingly your less and less likely to find ms works pre-installed on a computer.

Reply Score: 2

hehe...
by hobgoblin on Sun 19th Aug 2007 19:53 UTC
hobgoblin
Member since:
2005-07-06

it started with a spreadsheet. and by the looks of it, it will end with a spreadsheet to.

so when all comes to it, the computer is just a very big calculator...

Reply Score: 2

RE: hehe...
by butters on Sun 19th Aug 2007 22:21 UTC in reply to "hehe..."
butters Member since:
2005-07-08

Well, personal computing really started with games, but spreadsheets brought PCs into the office.

However, I thought that the spreadsheet would eventually be obsoleted by the the relational database. It sort of did happen that way for the most part. But even as the database reached the highest levels of maturity, capability, and ubiquity that mass-market software is known to attain, the spreadsheet remains.

When it all comes down to it, the computer is more than just a very big calculator. It's a modeling environment for analytic problem solving. The spreadsheet uses a simple model where each data element belongs to two sets defined by its row and column. It's a table, and everybody understands how they work. We use them to teach multiplication to young children.

People understand lists and tables. They're both based on flat planes and straight lines. It's easy to visualize data represented in these models. As models go, they're not very abstract. You don't have to imagine how the elements come together. We've been using these models to represent data since before we knew anything about set theory. They're the closest thing we have to that dangerous adjective: intuitive.

Trees are interesting because this is where we begin to lose people. I'm sure many of us have come to the shocking realization while helping family with computer trouble that some people don't really understand trees. They get the shape and the navigation, but they don't get the semantic implications of nested levels of subdivision.

We know that trees are hard for some people because while spreadsheets haven't really changed that much over the years, file managers have attempted at least a half-dozen visual metaphors to represent trees. Power users have radically different preferences compared to novices when it comes to file managers. The design wizards at Apple have yet to make a Finder than pleases even a solid majority of users.

So if trees are hard to visualize, then graphs ought to be even more challenging. That's why spreadsheets are still relatively popular while relational databases dominate among analytical data models. Everybody understands spreadsheets. Most people understand file managers. Only some people understand databases.

I think this is a generational thing. Most people that grew up with PCs understand file managers (although they are likely to be disappointed with them anyway). Today's children will grow up with tags, queries, and other semantics native to relational databases. Perhaps the spreadsheet will demonstrate its mortality as its limitations begin to outweigh its simplicity for an evolving userbase. Maybe not.

Edited 2007-08-19 22:23

Reply Score: 10

RE[2]: hehe...
by JonathanBThompson on Mon 20th Aug 2007 18:51 UTC in reply to "RE: hehe..."
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

What surprises me is why you would ever think that any sort of database would replace a spreadsheet and make them disappear.

Databases are great for database type things: spreadsheets are great for dealing with budgets: neither one works very well when used for the functions the other one was designed for.

However, I must note that has not exactly stopped people in the past from using Excel for creating forms for various things, and other things you'd think would be done in a word processor, and then there's also the capacity exposed in Excel through VBA and all macro capacity in the oldest versions, but it still remains, databases and spreadsheets are fundamentally different beasts that work best for different things.

Towards that end, a spreadsheet that tries to cover too much outside its intended numbers-crunching-displaying realm is likely to end up as complicated to master as Excel. Apps like Numbers need to exist, those that do the intended purpose of a spreadsheet, and just do that well.

Reply Score: 3

Numbers vs. Excel
by linkerjpatrick on Sun 19th Aug 2007 21:29 UTC
linkerjpatrick
Member since:
2006-01-28

People keep saying it good for the home user/student but not "corporate". Well, they are a lot of us, small business people our here who have never used those advanced features in Excel. I run a small business and I rarely get beyond the basic calculations in Excel or using it as basic database front end for working with data I import into a web based database like mysql, etc.

Actually their is at least one other application left out of iWork and that is a basic database. It's funny because Filemaker Pro is an Apple subsidiary and a basic version of Filemaker included iWork would make it complete.

BTW, my wife has used the calendar creation part of AppleWorks but it seems to be missing from iWork and printing from iCal doesn't do what she can do in Apple Works.

Reply Score: 2

Big mistake in the article...
by Ralf. on Sun 19th Aug 2007 21:34 UTC
Ralf.
Member since:
2005-08-13

there is a big mistake in the article:
iWork IS NOT free with every new Mac like iLife.

Reply Score: 6

The pivot!?!
by midoriconcept on Sun 19th Aug 2007 21:46 UTC
midoriconcept
Member since:
2006-12-01

I like Numbers.. Immensely. I bought iWork it a second after was announced. I liked pages and now is even better.
But to my misery, Number is not supporting Pivot table!
Gosh!
Pivot table are something I have discovered recently and now I really cannot live without.
PLEASE PLEASE add pivot table!

Reply Score: 1

Proprietary formats: Not good enough for me
by porcel on Sun 19th Aug 2007 21:54 UTC
porcel
Member since:
2006-01-28

Apple missed the boat on this one. They release a new office suite and come out with a new proprietary format that no one uses it.

It's bad enough that Microsoft has always tried to lock-in customers with proprietary formats, but for Apple to do so at this time and age is simply mind-blowing. Not only are they not Microsoft which benefits greatly from their Monopoly status when introducing new formats, but their unwillingness to adhere to public standards for office documents such as ODF basically means that most IT managers will write them off.

Wouldn't it be great to not be disqualified from the outset? Apple yet again shoots itself in the foot thinking that its tiny ecosystem is large enough to try to throw a Microsoft lock-in punch.

The XXI Century will be the century of interoperability. At least, I am working to make it so. The ability to share knowledge is more important than anyone vendor. Lots of interesting projects and ideas suddenly come into being when people can easily work together through common data formats.

And if you think I dislike Apple, you are wrong. I think they have some wonderful products, but I cannot stand moves such as this one, particularly at a time when Apple seems to be making more of an effort, at least in some areas (webkit, jabber, etc) to work more credibly and openly with the rest of the IT world.

Edited 2007-08-19 21:55

Reply Score: 12

aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

But then Apple is probably as Proprietary as it goes.

The list goes on:
AAC music.
iTunes webshop.
Can't move your music out of your iPod and it requires iTunes.
Libraryfunction of iPhoto and iTunes.
OS X only on their own hardware.
OS X not open source.
AppleTV are only supposed to play their own formats.

Apple might give nice solutions, but they make sure it's THEIR solution, and don't think that you can do anything you want with it ;)

Edited 2007-08-19 22:28

Reply Score: 8

The Baron Member since:
2005-07-06

AAC music

If the facts were on your side, it would be a nice little rant. However according to the aac wikipedia entry "Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) is a standardized, lossy compression and encoding scheme for digital audio. AAC is promoted as the successor to the MP3 format by MP3’s creator, Fraunhofer IIS."

Reply Score: 4

ubit Member since:
2006-09-08

AAC does have a patent problem though.

Reply Score: 5

thavith_osn Member since:
2005-07-11

Ummm.....

iTunes can encode everything as an mp3. It uses iTunes (which is free), but you can move your music to where ever you like, so no lock-in there...

If you have DRM stuff, just burn an Audio CD, guess what, you can import that as mp3's too... Apple also offer DRM-less music too.

Yes, you can't get the music off your iPod (without a 3rd party app), but that's no biggy as you can get all your music out of iTunes anyway...

Actually, iTunes isn't for Linux, but if you are running Linux, no biggy as there are other ways to get music on or off an iPod, or just buy another player. Apple (from what I can tell) isn't forcing you to buy an iPod. The restrictions come from the music industry, not Apple anyway. That was one of the prices Apple had to pay to get this market. If you don't like that, don't use them I guess...

iPhoto keeps the format of the original photo, so that can be given to everyone on any OS... I just tried to export some of my photos from iPhoto, and guess what, it worked perfectly. I could choose from a number of different formats too, PNG, JPEG etc... I even added some effects to them to make sure they exported correctly and with the correct orientation.

OS X is only on their own h/w, so what, that will only be a problem if you really really love Mac OS and can't live with Windows or Linux.
OS X is not open source, but Darwin is. Even if Darwin wasn't, again, so what. I for one (and 99.9999999% of users) will never recompile the kernel. Actually, you just write a kext and add that, so no need anyway in most cases...

Apple TV will play any format Quicktime can play, including (given the right plugin (see Perian)), DivX, most Avi's, flash etc. etc... The only problem I can see with the AppleTV is it needs iTunes, so no Linux guys and the output quality could be better. Again, I'm sure there is (or will be) a solution for the Linux crowd, or again, just use something else.

If Apple chooses not to market to Linux like they do with the iPod, then that is their loss.

Numbers exports to Excel and CSV. I just opened one of Apples templates and exported to CSV, NeoOffice read it in just fine...

Apple uses OpenGL and Quartz, both of which output to PDF (proprietary, but at least everyone on most OS's can view the output for free). In fact, pretty much every application that runs on the Mac can print to a PDF file. So, no matter what you do, you can send output to other OS's.

On a Mac you can run a lot of the X11 stuff, and have Gnome, KDE and other Desktop managers if you like. You can run most open source stuff on them too...

So, not really sure where this argument of lock-in really comes from.

You can run Parallels or VMWare now too, so you can pretty much run any OS side by side where you need to.

I personally think the only lock-in Apple has is that you need to buy their h/w to run their OS. But that is a historical thing, that is how Apple was created. The Apple ][ was h/w, the Mac was h/w. The iPod and iPhone is h/w and so on.

If you already have h/w and don't need to buy new, then Apple probably isn't for you yet. If you need to play the latest cutting edge games, then Apple probably isn't for you either. For everyone else, it comes down to a personal choice. But lets not use silly arguments about file format lock-in, which doesn't exist.

Edited 2007-08-20 00:32

Reply Score: 9

alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12

The previous poster meant by 'proprietary' and 'lockin' something different from what you're replying to.

He meant the use in native mode of file formats which are published open standards. So, for example, gif or jpeg is open. odf is open. Numbers is not. xls is not. doc is not. iTunes is not. The encryption is not open, you can't play the tunes on any other brand of player.

Excel does not become open because it can export in csv, and neither does Numbers or any of the other applications cited. iTunes does not become open because you can use it to generate files in some other format.

The most idiotic extreme of this style of argument occurs when people argue that OSX is 'really' open source because of the existence of Darwin, which is simply irrelevant to the question.

Now, why does this matter? Because the problem is typically not exporting from an application, which is usually trivial. The problem is usually one of three things. First, you have a file, you no longer have or never did have the app, and you cannot open it and get at the data. It can happen for all sorts of reasons, including the simple passage of time, the company went bust, stopped producing the app. Think about hypercard stacks, for instance.

Second, you have the app, but you have the wrong version of it. The company who made it has changed the format in later versions, and now you have to buy the app again or upgrade, and often have to then upgrade the OS to do so. A common problem with Access.

Or third, you have changed OS. You now have the files, but an OS which will not run the original app. If you have an odf file, you can run a different app on Linux and open it. You can move your gifs or jpegs to any OS you like.

When you can just take your Numbers file and move it to Linux and open it in another app, it will be open.

Until then, don't lets use silly arguments about file format lock-in, which is a real conscious marketing strategy and practiced by both Apple and Microsoft just as far as they can get away with it.

Reply Score: 7

evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

Now, why does this matter? Because the problem is typically not exporting from an application, which is usually trivial. The problem is usually one of three things. First, you have a file, you no longer have or never did have the app, and you cannot open it and get at the data. It can happen for all sorts of reasons, including the simple passage of time, the company went bust, stopped producing the app. Think about hypercard stacks, for instance.


And ....

Or third, you have changed OS. You now have the files, but an OS which will not run the original app. If you have an odf file, you can run a different app on Linux and open it. You can move your gifs or jpegs to any OS you like.


Is the main reason why I stopped using a product like Mellel which is awesome for writing papers but stuck with a proprietary format and tied to OS X. What happens if the Redlers go bust? Or if I stop using the Mac? My documents are going to be lost with the passage of time.

These days, I just write most things in LaTeX.

Reply Score: 5

milles21 Member since:
2006-11-08

I swear everything does not have to be open source I am so tired of people acting like because something is not open source it is all of a sudden inferior, or less worth the effort. Would it e great to have odf functionality, Yes it would however it does not make it less of an application.

Also I would consider CSV to be a open format if you can (by your argument open it on Linux, Windows, and Mac then that makes it open) it may not be your choice of ope format but keeping with your definition it is. Just as you can save documents in .doc on open office you can export documents to csv on numbers.

Apple has never claimed to be an open source company, what they have claimed is to implement some , keyword SOME open standards in their product.

I am for open standards however I do also recognize that an application does not always need to have open standards in order to be relevant or overall a great product.

Reply Score: 2

dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

I swear everything does not have to be open source I am so tired of people acting like because something is not open source it is all of a sudden inferior,

The problem isn't so much that the software is closed, but that the file format is closed. I really have no major problem with closed source apps as such (and I'll be the first to admit that many of them are supperior to their open cousins) as long as I can get at my data with an open app. I've been bitten by that problem one too many times in my career to feel willing to take that risk with any important data.

Reply Score: 4

alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12

Everything, if by that you mean the applications, does not have to be open source, if by that you mean making source code available on demand. Its nice if they are, but its not essential to have that, in order to safeguard yourself from lock-in.

However, you absolutely can and should insist that the native mode of working of your applications be standard, in the sense that gif, jpeg, html, odf are open standards. You want more than simply the ability of your app to save in an open format if you go to some trouble. Being able to save in csv does not make Numbers or Excel open source, or make them open standard compliant. What is needed is for the native mode format to be open standard.

Now, you could argue that de facto xls and doc are almost open. Lots of people run OO in that mode. The criticism levelled at Apple is that for no good reason they have invented yet another proprietary format which will probably never, given their size, become that sort of de facto standard. What on earth is the point? And why, when odf was available? Can there be any other explanation, they are asking, other than an attempted lock-in?

At the conclusion of this argument, if we pursue it, the defender of Numbers' openness will end up arguing that because Numbers is as open or as closed as Excel, it is therefore open. Yes, that is exactly how open it seems to be, or less, and that's the problem. That is not open anything.

Reply Score: 4

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Apple (from what I can tell) isn't forcing you to buy an iPod.

That's irrelevant for the concept of 'lock-in'. Microsoft never forced anyone to buy or use their products, yet, they still very much made/make use of vendor lock-in.

Reply Score: 1

Lokken Member since:
2006-06-27

If you have DRM stuff, just burn an Audio CD, guess what, you can import that as mp3's too...


That is just a terrible idea. Burn a lossy format to audio CD, then rip/encode, and lower the quality more. Unless you ripped into a lossless format, but then you'd be transcoding a 128 kbps AAC file to a much larger format.

Now, that's all fine and good if you don't mind degrading your purchased music, but if you really enjoy music, then it's simply not an option.

Reply Score: 2

Sabon Member since:
2005-07-06

You have been given wrong information. You can burn a CD at the level that you acquired the music into iTunes. Then once you burn the CD you can import at any level that you want to. Obviously you can improve the bit rate but you don't have to import it as an MP3.

One method about learning about a product, especially when you can get it for free, it so install it and look at what the options are and test it. Once you have, if you've done it properly, you will know the real limits of the software (or of yourself).

It's too easy now days to get good information and to get products like iTunes.

Reply Score: 2

Lokken Member since:
2006-06-27

The entire point of ripping a CD to MP3 is to keep a 'good enough' copy of a song on your computer/iPod, what have you.

I say 'good enough' because it is not a bit-perfect copy. MP3, being a lossy compression algorithm, will not be a perfect rip of the source.

It's like photocopying a photocopy. The first copy might look pretty good, but the second one might look worse than the first.

Improving the bit rate will only limit the amount of detail lost. Short of ripping to a lossless format, an MP3/AAC/OGG will always lose some compared to the original source format.

So, to sum it up, one method of learning about audio compression is to read up on it. It's too easy to get good information about audio compression.

Reply Score: 2

nevali Member since:
2006-10-12

Improving the bit rate will only limit the amount of detail lost. Short of ripping to a lossless format, an MP3/AAC/OGG will always lose some compared to the original source format.


And, of course, iTunes will let you rip to a lossless format. You can rip to AIFF (= the Mac equivalent of .WAV) if you want.

And, for the record (I can't be bothered to reply to lots of different comments individually…), AAC is an open standard. It has patent issues, but it has fewer and less impacting patent issues than MP3.

The iTunes Store DRM is an example of lock-in, yes. Same applies to every other DRM system. DRM = bad, though there are two things here: 1) hardly anybody actually buys stuff from the iTunes store (lots of people do, but it's still a drop in the ocean); most (legal) people rip from their own CDs. 2) You can buy DRM-free tracks from iTunes, which are just plain AAC and will play on anything that can play back AAC (which includes Linux, incidentally). The only “not open” parts—file format-wise—about iTunes are the support for the DRM'd tracks, which a minority actually uses anyway, and the Apple Lossless encoding, wherein everybody wishes they'd just support FLAC and be done with it.

Reply Score: 1

ronaldst Member since:
2005-06-29

Then you're in luck, it's based on OpenXML format. ;)

Reply Score: 0

dru_satori Member since:
2005-07-06

Not only that, all of the iWork apps are an XML format, before any of the others where. The format is simple, and if you dig on Apple's site, you'll even find articles about using the formats for integration, particularly in reference to Keynote.

Reply Score: 1

steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

Let's be fair here...

The "standard" formats for spreadsheets are designed around plain spreadsheets that would be familiar to a VisiCalc or 1-2-3 user of old. The standard formats are supported by Excel and OpenOffice, applications that still fairly strongly resemble VisiCalc in their spreadsheet operation.

Whilst Numbers shares features in common with VisiCalc and 1-2-3, it's approach is arguably closer to PageMaker and other DTP packages.

The approaches taken are fundamentally different.

Whilst Numbers can export to "standard" formats doing so inevitably involves compromises to their DTP-like approach. Exported sheets cannot look identical to the originals.

I'd argue that the "standard" formats don't fit Numbers' model.

Reply Score: 1

samad Member since:
2006-03-31

I agree with you, except for one point: I do not think it is entirely rational to compare Apple's proprietary format to Microsoft's. Don't get me wrong, proprietary formats are bad, but not all proprietary formats are equally bad. Microsoft's Office formats are in binary, making it difficult to hack. Apple's formats are in XML, and writing a document reader for Numbers will be less challenging than creating a reliable Excel reader.

Reply Score: 2

Why not just OpenOffice?
by ggeldenhuys on Sun 19th Aug 2007 22:04 UTC
ggeldenhuys
Member since:
2006-11-13

Yet another office suite! I guess competition is good. For me, OpenOffice works perfectly on all the platforms I have available and I can share my documents between all those systems. It is also a robust application thats been around for a good few years. Oh and the price of OpenOffice is excellent - ZERO!! :-)

Reply Score: 6

RE: Why not just OpenOffice?
by aliquis on Sun 19th Aug 2007 22:27 UTC in reply to "Why not just OpenOffice?"
aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

Because OpenOffice is a Microsoft Office copycat/wannabe, and therefor has all the flaws of the later one. iWork is something fresh and innovative with it's own unique user interface and functions. They have actually thinked themself how it should be done, not just copied Microsoft like everyone in the open source movement tend to do.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Why not just OpenOffice?
by Obscurus on Mon 20th Aug 2007 02:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Why not just OpenOffice?"
Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

I don't actually think MS Office is all that flawed (at least, not the most recent versions). MS Excel is an exceptionally good product, and I am yet to find another spreadsheet program that compares to the power and flexibility Excel offers. Word is also a very good word processor. Access is rubbish however (Filemaker is much better), and powerpoint is OK, but the OpenOffice equivalent is adequate as well.

OpenOffice is OK, but for all of Microsoft's flaws, Word and Excel are very nice apps. IMO.

I'm really happy with what MS have done as far as Office 2007 goes. OO is a bit sluggish by comparison, in my experience, and doesn't have all of the features and polish that Office does. Plus, Office is a lot swifter now that they cracked down on their coders putting in ridiculous easter eggs like flight simulators into their products.

That said, I think it is great that Apple is launching their own spreadsheet app - there is a desperate need for MS to have some decent competition. I'll have to check it out.

The more competition there is, the more MS will be forced to use open standards.

Edited 2007-08-20 02:09

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Why not just OpenOffice?
by elsewhere on Mon 20th Aug 2007 02:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why not just OpenOffice?"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

MS Excel is an exceptionally good product, and I am yet to find another spreadsheet program that compares to the power and flexibility Excel offers.


This I have to agree with, as much as it irks me. Just as Visicalc was the killer spreadsheet app that made Apple relevant, Excel remains the killer spreadsheet app that keeps MS Office relevant. Word, PPT and Access can all be worked around, but Excel is still the most flexible spreadsheet app.

I say this as someone who wants desperately to use alternatives, but they just don't cut it. Some of the spreadsheets I use take a minute or two just to open in OOo2 Calc or KSpread, if they open at all. Let alone the lagtime for recalculations when literally thousands of cells with formulas are involved. It's painful.

I could survive in my job by using alternates for Word and Access, and *maybe* PowerPoint, but Excel keeps me stuck to MSO. I wish it were otherwise, and I wish the devs would quit saying that OOo2 or KOffice is "good enough", but then again I'm not a dev so I'm in no position to put-up-or-shut-up. Still, I'd love to ditch Excel, but reality prevents me.

No alternative to MSO can succeed until the spreadsheet can realistically substitute Excel. All the more power to Numbers, if only it incents everyone else to get their spreadsheets into gear.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Why not just OpenOffice?
by porcel on Mon 20th Aug 2007 18:19 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Why not just OpenOffice?"
porcel Member since:
2006-01-28

If speed of calculations is what's preventing you from using an alternative, try gnumeric. Not only is it very fast, it's also very mature and complete.

Reply Score: 3

chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

No alternative to MSO can succeed until the spreadsheet can realistically substitute Excel. All the more power to Numbers, if only it incents everyone else to get their spreadsheets into gear.

Gnumeric has reproduced effectively most of the functionality of Excel except macros and pivot tables. It has opened very accurately all of the excel spreadsheets and templates I have thrown at it, though I haven't tried anything as large as you describe. Its accuracy in opening excel spreadsheets seems to be better than Numbers from the description in the the article and better in my experience than Calc though at v2.2 it seems to have caught up now.

Gnumeric as of 2004 was producing accurate statistical results where Excel was generating errors. I don't know but this may have been corrected by now. MS seemed however, to be averse to removing the problems from the point of view of backward compatibility.

Edited 2007-08-20 14:00

Reply Score: 4

RE: Why not just OpenOffice?
by Moochman on Sun 19th Aug 2007 23:43 UTC in reply to "Why not just OpenOffice?"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

I've seen keynote presentations that were 10 times nicer looking than any PowerPoint presentation I had ever seen, created by a novice. Just to give you an idea of "why something else".

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Why not just OpenOffice?
by Obscurus on Mon 20th Aug 2007 08:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Why not just OpenOffice?"
Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

I agree, Keynote is much better than Powerpoint. Excel is Mocrosoft's crown jewel, and while word is a very capable app, it has some very decent competition that makes it less relevant. The rest of the MS Office suite is really average, but then, there is really only so much more that you can add to office software. Competing products will start to converge on the optimum solution after a while, to the point that price and file format support become the critical factors in choosing which one you will use.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Why not just OpenOffice?
by gsmd on Mon 20th Aug 2007 10:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why not just OpenOffice?"
gsmd Member since:
2007-02-02

MS Visio is a rather solid product I use on daily basis.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Why not just OpenOffice?
by Sabon on Mon 20th Aug 2007 16:44 UTC in reply to "Why not just OpenOffice?"
Sabon Member since:
2005-07-06

Yet another office suite! I guess competition is good. For me, OpenOffice works perfectly on all the platforms I have available and I can share my documents between all those systems. It is also a robust application thats been around for a good few years. Oh and the price of OpenOffice is excellent - ZERO!! :-)


OpenOffice is:
1) Clunky
2) Ulgy
3) Slow
4) Bloated
5) Extremely limited format wise. What I mean by that is:
While you can merge cells, the cell widths are locked in for all the rows below it. In order to have a slightly or completely different column widths you have to either use a new sheet or move over to a new set of columns on the sheet you are on. Neither are flexible for viewing the different sections on the screen at the same time.
I've been using spreadsheets for over 25 years. I'm considered an expert when the accounting people need help and they create tons of complex spreadsheets.
Numbers is the first big refresh of ideas for spreadsheets since being able to merge cells.

All the above can also be said about Excel except ugly. In place of ugly, put "extremely way over priced" in for Excel.

There is very little Excel wise that any of the finance people use that Numbers doesn't have. There are a few things but my guess is that enough people like me are letting Apple know what needs to be added and they will take care of this. It's called, "Feedback". Apple is quite good at adding things if enough people let Apple know about it.

One of the things I'm expecting Apple to add before Numbers 2 is macros or whatever you want to call programming in spreadsheets. Microsoft uses Visual Basic (not for Mac Office 2008 though - that is using Apple's equivalent) but Apple has a far better scripting program which is a lot easier for the "average" person to figure out. If they can figure out it, it means more power to them.
Just like when spreadsheets like Visicalc came to the first PC. It was simple AMAZING how it changed people's lives. I was there. I was part of it. I not only watch it happen but was one of the people heavily (in a good way) affected by this. How many people do you know that used Lots 1-2-3 ver 1.01? I was one of them on a IBM XT.
Yes there were spreadsheets before that. But this was the first one that I can use to download from the mainframe and upload back up to the mainframe (using 3rd party software). If only I had the skills to write a book about it, which I don't, which is why I'm not in that field.

Edited 2007-08-20 17:00

Reply Score: 2

Proprietary...
by tyrione on Mon 20th Aug 2007 02:22 UTC
tyrione
Member since:
2005-11-21

Apple embraces open standards throughout their OS.

Their implementations are proprietary just like any other platform.

Reply Score: 2

v just fits apple strategy
by gsmd on Mon 20th Aug 2007 05:13 UTC
RE: just fits apple strategy
by Kroc on Mon 20th Aug 2007 09:01 UTC in reply to "just fits apple strategy"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

You've never owned a Mac then I see. Nor even seen FCP.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: just fits apple strategy
by gsmd on Mon 20th Aug 2007 10:12 UTC in reply to "RE: just fits apple strategy"
gsmd Member since:
2007-02-02

Right, I'm running MacOS under VMware solely for testing purposes.
FCP might be prove-the-rule exception.

Reply Score: 1

Cool
by Xaero_Vincent on Mon 20th Aug 2007 07:16 UTC
Xaero_Vincent
Member since:
2006-08-18

But its useless without a Mac, so no thanks.

OOo is more resource hungry but thats a small price to pay for being free. Perhaps Excel is a reason to have Office but since I don't use spreadsheet apps so I don't care. Even if I did, there are plenty of alternatives out there, such as Gnumetric.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Cool
by Kroc on Mon 20th Aug 2007 07:35 UTC in reply to "Cool"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

"But its useless without a Mac, so no thanks."

Mac-only apps, only run on Mac; News at Ten.
This is a Mac article, what do you expect??

Do I go into Windows articles and say "But it's useless without a PC, so no thanks."?

Reply Score: 7

Coporate users:
by thecwin on Mon 20th Aug 2007 12:36 UTC
thecwin
Member since:
2006-01-04

I'm wondering. What exactly about Numbers makes it unfit for corporate use? I'm an advanced maths, physics and programming student, and I'm finding it fine for my work barring one relatively minor problem; that is, you can't link scatter graph points with lines.

For a corporate user this actually seems quite good. All the statistical and basic maths functions of Excel coupled with great layout and visual functions, which business documents seem to be far too concerned with.

Additionally, it has sliders and so on for easy interaction when giving a spreadsheet to the upper management; they can just move the slider and see the graph updated in realtime. It seems to be reasonably good at importing XLS documents.

As far as the numbers file format goes, I'm not sure, however it seems to be a gzipped XML inside the package, using namespaces defined by Apple (can't find one, but I assume there's or will be a spec somewhere). I think they released documentation for other iWork apps... Some APXL presentation layer or something. There doesn't appear to be scripting support yet, but with other iWork apps they released that in an update afterwards.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Coporate users:
by Quoth_the_Raven on Mon 20th Aug 2007 13:24 UTC in reply to "Coporate users:"
Quoth_the_Raven Member since:
2005-11-15

"I'm wondering. What exactly about Numbers makes it unfit for corporate use?"

My sentiments exactly. Kinda funny how people shoot from the hip when they somehow feel threatened.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Coporate users:
by alcibiades on Mon 20th Aug 2007 13:34 UTC in reply to "Coporate users:"
alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12

I haven't used Numbers, but the typical thing that happens with spreadsheets to make their use problematical in business is speed and scale. The question is, how fast it runs (if at all) with multiple sheets in a workbook with several thousand lines and a few hundred rows, all interrelated.

Now, you could say, and its perfectly true, that this is not the right tool for the job. Learn yourself a real language if you want to do this sort of stuff, and stop messing with spreadsheets. Use a database. True.

But in fact, like it or not, Finance departments and planning departments are going to keep on using spreadsheets, and if they can't get their stuff to work at acceptable speed, they will howl, and they will get what they want.

OO is just about acceptable. But neither KSpread nor Gnumeric will handle the large ones. And even OO is fairly easy to bring to its knees if you use the wrong kinds of formulas.

It would be interesting to hear how Numbers performs on this kind of thing. Throw in a few largish array formulas to the above mix, do some regex in your formulas, and see how long it takes to load and recalculate.

I'm no great admirer of MS, MS Office or even Excel. But its fast. Or at least, its fast enough.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Coporate users:
by Tuishimi on Mon 20th Aug 2007 13:39 UTC in reply to "Coporate users:"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

I would say the vast majority of "corporate users" never use a given office application to its full potential. MS Office applications have tons of features that I would never use. That, however, does not mean there are no power users who DO use and even NEED some of those additional functions.

It might also come down to finances (but I don't know this, talking out of my butt here) since we have some sort of "corporate licensing scheme" with MS or some intermediate provided of MS software, we can insure smooth interoperability between users at a reduced cost that might not make the less expensive, but less functional Numbers more attractive in the end.

Reply Score: 2

Re: Corporate users
by mind!dagger on Mon 20th Aug 2007 13:47 UTC
mind!dagger
Member since:
2007-06-26

I love `arm-chair` opinions. I really do. They are so objective and scientific. The total number of corporations and the total number of small to medium private businesses vary greatly. The later outnumber the former.

It is a dellusion by many MS fans that Excel is the one program fits all solution. In my experience I've seen the SMBs use a number of programs to push their business and its data.

Bill and his team of millionaires should focus on operating systems and let people decide what they want to use.

Edited 2007-08-20 13:48

Reply Score: 1

RE: Re: Corporate users
by sappyvcv on Mon 20th Aug 2007 13:53 UTC in reply to "Re: Corporate users"
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

It is a dellusion by many MS fans that Excel is the one program fits all solution.

Who ever said that? Nothing fits all solutions. But excel does meet the needs of most businesses better than any other spreadsheet software.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Re: Corporate users
by mind!dagger on Mon 20th Aug 2007 14:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Re: Corporate users"
mind!dagger Member since:
2007-06-26

"Who ever said that? Nothing fits all solutions. But excel does meet the needs of most businesses better than any other spreadsheet software."

There are three things I would like to bring up here: proofs, axioms and theories.

First of all, if you are bold enough to say, " ... excel does meet the needs of most businesses better than any other spreadsheet software", then provide a source of your "proof". Otherwise it is an axiom or a better word assumption.

I believe your proof is not even a realistic assumption but an unproven theory. A Microsoft marketing theory to be exact. Please, no Microsoft studies or any study funded by or for Microsoft. Reading those are like reading scientific or fully objective news from Reader's Digest.

In the beginning was Bill. Bill hovered over the face of the earth and said ... "Let there be Microsoft!"

Edited 2007-08-20 14:59

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Re: Corporate users
by sappyvcv on Mon 20th Aug 2007 16:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Re: Corporate users"
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

First of all, if you are bold enough to say, " ... excel does meet the needs of most businesses better than any other spreadsheet software", then provide a source of your "proof". Otherwise it is an axiom or a better word assumption.

The proof is in the pudding.

Reply Score: 3

enterprise.
by _df_ on Mon 20th Aug 2007 16:56 UTC
_df_
Member since:
2005-07-06

can I put code under it? we have some bigtime 'apps' written in excel. horrendous things that should not but but do some important business decisions.

if I cant script+code it underneath the spreadsheet,it aint fit for the enterprise.

mostly, I dont care about it, it will never be on my corporate radar, as the people who make the decisions know its different and different is bad.

Reply Score: 2

RE: enterprise.
by Laurence on Mon 20th Aug 2007 17:17 UTC in reply to "enterprise."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

"can I put code under it? we have some bigtime 'apps' written in excel. horrendous things that should not but but do some important business decisions.

if I cant script+code it underneath the spreadsheet,it aint fit for the enterprise. "


I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that the Mac release of Excel doesn't support VBA - only the Windows version does.

Reply Score: 2

Array formulas
by Lokken on Mon 20th Aug 2007 18:29 UTC
Lokken
Member since:
2006-06-27

I haven't seen much mention of Numbers support for array formulas. Now, granted, the average home user may not find any need for these, but they can be used quite heavily in an office environment.

As with everything, they may not be the right tool for every job, but sometimes, an array formula is a reasonably good solution for a particular problem.

I've tried running OpenOffice Calc, and it's fine for about 95% of the work required (at work), but that other 5% ends up taking far more time than it should.

That said, I enjoy a little more diversity in applications. Hopefully it will promote even greater compatibility between applications/file formats in the long run.

Reply Score: 2

It's version 1.0
by bousozoku on Mon 20th Aug 2007 22:20 UTC
bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

Numbers is a good start that needs work. The original version of Keynote was broken but brilliant and has come a long way. Pages started similarly.

I'd expect Apple to fill the gaps and increase the flexibility and decrease the slowness. It already works with MS Office 2007 formats and that's better than Microsoft's support on Macs.

With the lack of office suites on Mac OS X, iWork has just grown up a lot.

Reply Score: 2