Ex­cel 2016

Smart and fast, but it doesn’t play well across plat­forms

Mac Format - - RATED -

Like the rest of the Of­fice apps, Ex­cel has had a gen­tle re­fresh for 2016. It’s colour­ful, and ac­cess to OneDrive and SharePoint files is sim­pler, as be­fits the cloud­fo­cussed up­date over­all. It has a range of new key­board shortcuts to speed up work­ing and an au­to­com­plete func­tion that can au­to­mat­i­cally draw in data from neigh­bour­ing cells. There’s a smart Pivot Ta­ble Slicer too, which lets you add but­tons to an ac­tive sheet which, with a sin­gle click, fil­ter the data in a ta­ble to leave only the cells that you need to ref­er­ence.

There are six new chart types in Ex­cel for Win­dows, but not on the Mac, which is a prob­lem be­cause their ab­sence from the OS X edi­tion breaks the whole idea of plat­form in­de­pen­dence. If one of your col­leagues uses any of the new chart types on a PC and sends you the work­book, you’ll see a blank white box in its place con­tain­ing a warn­ing mes­sage.

There’s an ODBC (Open Data­base Con­nec­tiv­ity) driver built in, so you can now con­nect to ex­ter­nal data sources more eas­ily, and it can work with records in FileMaker, as well as text and HTML. Once again, though, Mac users have been short-changed when work­ing along­side their Win­dows coun­ter­parts, who have ac­cess to data stored on Face­book, Mi­crosoft Ex­change, Ac­tive Direc­tory, Sales­force Re­ports and more. To test how this af­fected cross-plat­form in­te­gra­tion, we cre­ated a doc­u­ment in Ex­cel for Win­dows that drew down data from Face­book Graph, shared it through OneDrive and opened it on the Mac. It ren­dered a static view of the data, and threw up an alert when we tried to re­fresh it.

Also miss­ing is the Win­dows edi­tion’s Ink-based equa­tion ed­i­tor that lets you draw on touch­screen-en­abled PCs (and Sur­face de­vices) to sketch out the for­mula and have Ex­cel con­vert it to prop­erly for­mat­ted text for you. This isn’t en­tirely Mi­crosoft’s fault, as there’s no such thing as a touch­screen Mac yet (and may never be) but a mouse or track­pad equiv­a­lent would have been a wel­come ad­di­tion.

You can share work­books eas­ily by up­load­ing them to OneDrive or a SharePoint server and email­ing a link straight out of Ex­cel it­self. Re­cip­i­ents can then open the file in the browser-based version or their own copy of Ex­cel, but it’s not quite as clever as Word’s syn­chro­nised edit­ing. If you want to col­lab­o­rate in Ex­cel, the orig­i­na­tor needs to close the copy in their off­line app so that ev­ery­one works through the browser. We hope this is some­thing that a fu­ture edi­tion will ad­dress so it’s pos­si­ble to col­lab­o­rate both on­line and in the pri­mary ap­pli­ca­tion it­self. Nik Rawl­in­son

Once again, Mac users have been short-changed when work­ing along­side Win­dows coun­ter­parts

Mac users might feel short-changed if they’re look­ing over Win­dows-us­ing col­leagues’ shoul­ders

Ex­cel 2016’s in­ter­face has been re­freshed to keep it in line with the Win­dows edi­tion.

The smart Pivot Ta­ble Slicer lets you quickly iso­late data in a pivot ta­ble for easy anal­y­sis.

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