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nightski 293 days ago | link | parent

So well thought out interface design is ignoring subsets of users and unifying everyone to one common set of behavior.

Imagine if Excel employed this philosophy. It wouldn't be useful to anyone.



zimpenfish 293 days ago | link

That depends how large the subset is. If it's 2% or lower, then yes. Hell, I might even go as high as 10% depending on what the particular bit of behaviour is.

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roel_v 293 days ago | link

Do you think 2% of Excel users (or 10%) use Pivot tables? Do you think Excel would be the massively powerful tool it is today without that?

Same for scatter plot, import csv files delimited with % marks, and the ipmt() function?

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zimpenfish 292 days ago | link

A fair point but misleading - they're not a simple checkbox which can break your everyday experience. In fact, none of them are UI relevant at all, really.

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tracker1 293 days ago | link

I wasn't aware I could set a field to SUM(..) etc from the gui... Most of the features in Excel are a bit under the covers.. and far more so than about:config... maybe the "advanced settings" tab should be a button that just takes you to about:config with a warning?

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hysan 293 days ago | link

Err... I just opened up Excel (2002 since that is all I have at work), selected a cell, clicked on the SUM button (sure it uses the mathematical symbol for sum but if you hover over it, it says SUM), and then was able to click and drag (or CRTL + click for nonconsecutive cells) to select cells for the sum. This is all via the GUI. I'm not sure how this is hidden. Heck, I did this in a Japanese version of Office which I can't read.

Is this different in Office 2010 or any of the newer versions of Office? I mostly use LibreOffice and even there it has the same "all GUI" functionality.

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tracker1 293 days ago | link

Honestly, didn't know, I rarely use excel, but do know a lot of people who do a ton of VBA code to connect to database resources to create interactive spreadsheets.. and a lot of that is far from common, button-click functionality.

And in any case, for those that want it, it's in about:config ... I doubt anyone who should be disabling JS would be looking around for it in a config frame, and not do a quick google search. I've generally adjusted most of my settings via about:config, mostly cache related for me, but if I'm playing with js settings etc.. it's easier to keep a tab open with about:config than a modal.

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hysan 293 days ago | link

While you may know a lot of people who do VBA code in Excel, that is actually far from the norm for the average corporate user. From my non-CS friends who have worked in both large and small companies, I have heard tons of horror stories of the insane spreadsheets that low-to-average users make using just the GUI functionality. Huge spreadsheets with formulas spanning tons of sheets to simulate what could be done in a simple function. These spreadsheets get huge over time as coworkers slowly add/update functionality over time. All using the GUI which makes it a cluster fuck (my friends' words) to understand.

And all of this actually is equivalent to the "uncommon" VBA coding that you hear of. I wouldn't be surprised if all of the VBA code / spreadsheets you hear about evolved from one of these massive GUI created spreadsheets. Why? Anecdote time:

Those VBA sheets tend to come into existence when a non-programmer decides to learn about macros, updates one of these sheets to be simpler (less data entry), and it actually works. One of my friends was one such employee and she ended up converting a few of the inefficient spreadsheets into a single faster (though still slow) one. Due to cutting down the amount of manual data entry and processing time, it made what used to take a few days of work into a single day of work (mostly to have the sheet run calculations). If this creation gets useful enough, it can take a life of its own in the company and eventually some manager might make it the responsibility of an "IT" guy to update the code. Usually because the original employee got promoted (or left for a better job) due to killing their performance reviews. My friend was one such employee who left and actually did this at more than 1 company leading to a pretty damn well paying job at a young age. Last she heard, her original spreadsheet was still being used and semi-maintained by IT. And this it how I believe a lot of those VBA coding projects come into existence.

How this all connects back to FF and the javascript option, I have no idea. What I do know is that non-technical users can be pretty goddamn creative when it comes to finding ways to simulate uncommon functionality when needed. All via the GUI.

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jwarren 292 days ago | link

My dad takes great pride in complex VBA code. Unfortunately, this can backfire. A few years ago he was brought in to help manage a particular support system for a large telecoms company here in the UK, which involved a lot of Excel donkey work. He understandably figured out a way to automate about 50% of the work of the entire system.

This meant that he freed up plenty of time for the entire team he was on. Unfortunately, this meant that they now had surplus staff, and as the newest arrival, he was the first to let go.

Yeah, incredibly backwards internal politics, but I swear it's true.

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hysan 292 days ago | link

100% believe you because this was one of the concerns my friend had about sharing her work. Only management didn't go the firing route. They ended up giving the employees even more work because of their newly found free time.

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pessimizer 292 days ago | link

I've been one of those VBA/Excel automators, and almost every project you get done causes layoffs. They're crappy jobs, usually, but it doesn't feel very good. Vive la productivity gains?

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