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Wayne Erfling

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  1. 165 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    Two of my colleagues were at a conference last week, and part of what they came back with was an assertion that developers should deliver not what users want, but what the developers "know" they need.

    I've been in software development for over forty years, but this perversion of the idea of innovation has only crept in within the last 10-15 years. I believe Steve Jobs is one of the messiahs of this idea about developers delivering what THEY want.

    My current iconic example is the NEST thermostat, which limits how you can control your home's temperature, how much history you can see and how much developers using their API can in turn display via their third-part apps (if the API is even available anymore).

    I'm confident that just as the NEST developers know how to heat and cool my home, the Microsoft developers "know" what's best for us in our applications.

    (switching ribbon tabs constantly still drives me just about as crazy as the limited choice of icons and colors)

    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    Not only should the icons NOT be monochrome, Microsoft should restore the users' ability to import their own icons. Ever since that capability was stripped out of Excel I've had to make ridiculous choices among the cartoonish built-in offerings, but when the "solid red" and "solid green" built-in icons both become colorless they are indistinguishable.

    One of the original selling points in the migration from DOS to Windows was the Control Panel and the opportunity for users to choose their own consistent look and feel, implemented across applications rather than app-by-app.

    It's been at least ten years now since Microsoft Office began to disregard personalization features (the gray-gray-gray years) and in the "Creator" update to Windows 10, which I call the "Destroyer" update, the ability to individually update text and colors was removed entirely.

    If there were a competitive operating system and applications I would gladly say good-bye to the Microsoft Monopolies, but it doesn't seem viable right now, especially since there seems to be no active development on the Mac OS.

    I remember helping older non-IT employees with a non-white background on their screens in Windows 3.0 / 3.1. Now that I'm one of the older employees (but still in IT) I have to make the few remaining changes available by updating the Registry.

    Microsoft, please restore previously removed UI features from Windows and Microsoft Office.

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  2. 1 vote
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  3. 8 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    My work-around (in a spreadsheet I use every day at work) is to create a hidden column with values friendly to conditional formatting (i.e. all digits because it only works on numbers), then copy the color values in the worksheet calculate event, from the hidden column to the column I want to look at.

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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    The irony of the "built-in" conditional formats is that THIS ONE is missing.

    Most of my use of conditional formatting is to say "two ranges of cells are different", in one of two formats:
    1) pairs of side-by-side columns, e.g. A1<> B1, C1 <> D1, E1 <> F1, and so on
    2) groups of columns, e.g. A1<>H1, B1<>I1,C1<>J1, etc.

    Even though I'm very experienced with conditional formatting, it's still time-consuming entering and copying manual formulas for such a mundane operation.

  4. 72 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    Presently the worst single problem I know of in Excel.

    My biggest issue with fragmented CF rules is performance, though I've also seen color bars affected as noted by the initiator.

    In one of my spreadsheets I was getting 15-30 seconds response time making the spreadsheet painful to use.

    I've spent several HOURS arduously removing fractured rules, as performance of the Conditional Formatting maintenance dialog was affected as much as the rest of the spreadsheet.

    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    I believe this issue extends beyond mere PASTEing to other forms of re-organization, for example sorting.

    In any spreadsheet where I have added a significant number of conditional formatting formulas, this has become an issue.

    I have seen dozens to hundreds of conditional formatting rules created by the "fracturing" process.

    Just take Jon's simple example and imagine working on a range with hundreds of cells with conditional formatting for days or months.

    For those of us who "really" use conditional formatting this can be a real headache.

    Wayne Erfling supported this idea  · 
  5. 1 vote
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  6. 2 votes
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  7. 5 votes
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  8. 230 votes
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    Thanks for the suggestion Nick. We’ve got some related work we’re looking at soon, and we’ll be sure to carefully consider if we can get a fix in for this then. As always, more votes helps – so keep voting for the things you care about most.

    Thanks,
    John [MS XL]

    Wayne Erfling supported this idea  · 
    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    I have begun to use Application.MacroOptions to help with this a bit. Example follows:

    Sub DescribeFunctions()
    '======================

    Dim FunctionName As String
    Dim FunctionDesc As String
    Dim Category As String
    Dim ArgDesc(1 To 7) As String

    FunctionName = "YesOrNo"
    FunctionDesc = "Transforms various common values to " & _
    "specified ""yes"" or ""no"" values"
    Category = 7 'Text category
    ArgDesc(1) = "Input value or reference"
    ArgDesc(2) = "Return value for unrecognized InputValue " & _
    "(special value ""xlErrValue"" [case-sensitive])"
    ArgDesc(3) = "Accept ""T"" or ""F"" (single character)"
    ArgDesc(4) = "Accept ""0"" or ""1"" (single character)"
    ArgDesc(5) = "Accept ""true"" or ""false"" [case-insensitive]"
    ArgDesc(6) = "Value for ""yes"""
    ArgDesc(7) = "Value for ""no"""""

    Application.MacroOptions _
    Macro:=FunctionName, _
    Description:=FunctionDesc, _
    Category:=Category, _
    ArgumentDescriptions:=ArgDesc
    End Sub

    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    named arguments for function calls with OPTIONAL arguments in the underlying VBA (or c#? or VB?) would be nice, too.

  9. 6 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    Absolutely allow users to select their own "places", like adding a network place in File Explorer (even though that feature moves around the user interface like the Energizer bunny).
    ===
    In general I feel that folders should be treated more like files not only in MS Office Save As, where I should be able to pin a folder but also in File Explorer's search (to include folder names in searches instead of assuming that all searches are for files WITHIN folders).
    ===
    I store zero files of any kind in "My Documents" (or whatever
    Microsoft's current name is), because I don't trust Microsoft to
    not transition these shortcut folders to some other structure as other MS-provisioned items have done.

  10. 15 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    I would be happy to be able to "pin" a folder manually.
    ===
    I'm not sure if "Anonymous" meant "Excel automatically pins frequently used folders based on an algorithm" or "users pin folders that they consider to be frequently used by their own criteria".
    ===
    I wrote a piece of Shareware in the Windows 3.0/3.1 era (and implemented the algorithm a second time in AmiPro macros) that adjusted program menus based on both frequency of use and how recently each item was used.
    ===
    Developing that algorithm was interesting. Surely Microsoft can implement a "real" heuristic MRU algorithm and deploy in places such as the "Save As" section of MS Office!

    Wayne Erfling supported this idea  · 
  11. 12 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    Because of this on-going destruction of the "window" metaphor I refer to the "creator" update of Windows 10 as the "destructor" update. It's when the final vestiges of user control over fonts and colors was removed from the Control Panel.

    It looks pretty bad even in Office 2016 and Windows 7, because Office disregards the Control Panel settings.

    Getting back to Office, I'm using the "blue" color scheme and when two blue windows are overlapping I often have trouble seeing where to move the mouse pointer to "grab" the window I want to move.

    When "classic" mode was available I always updated BOTH the window border and window caption to be BRIGHTER for active and DARKER for inactive. So much easier to manage my desktop.

    Microsoft, I don't know which numbskulls came up with tiny fonts, low contrast and near-borderless windows, but couldn't you put them all in some basement somewhere working on something "special"?

    Geez.

    Wayne Erfling supported this idea  · 
  12. 52 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    This can be considered an accessibility request. I spend way too much time trying to find the Active Cell in Excel 2016, depending of course on the cell backgrounds I'm working with.

    As written, this request says both "make it easier...", which could be handled by a dynamic mechanism coded by Microsoft, and "allow for formatting", which would put things in the hands of the user.

    1) I would TEND to prefer having Microsoft implement a "dynamic highlight" mechanism that would highlight the active cell depending on surrounding cells.

    I would also prefer that Microsoft implement a higher-visibility highlight in the column and row headers instead of the gray on grey highlight used now. In this case the user could be given the option to include the cell's text and background and border in the algorithm (or any combination of those).

    Microsoft could even implement an "ActiveCell" event or enhance the selection changed event so that developers could write something to save and restore colors in an area prior to them becoming the active cell(s).

    2) Giving the user "non-dynamic" formatting control is appealing but would almost need to be stored by sheet as a configuration that worked with one sheet might just blend in in another one.

    ===

    Bottom line, Active Cell highlighting needs to improve.

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  13. 2 votes
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    Wayne Erfling commented  · 

    Even three or four un-named arguments can be hard to remember for a function one rarely calls.

    However helpful named parameters will be, I have also begun adding a subroutine named "DescribeFunctions", with calls like the following to describe custom VBA functions.

    Application.MacroOptions _
    Macro:=FunctionName, _
    Description:=FunctionDesc, _
    Category:=Category, _
    ArgumentDescriptions:=ArgDesc

    Every little bit helps. I've gotten so used to named parameters in SQL and c# it just seems natural they should be supported by Excel function calls

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