PraxIS Sep. 2009

09-09 Contents: Excel Development, Range Names, Improve Excel

ISSN 1649-2374 This issue online at   [Previous] [Index]  [Next]

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    Excel Development Guidelines
    Named Ranges are being talked about
    Eusprig 2010 Conference theme
    Two MS employees want your help in making Office Better auction

 Off Topic
    Spreadsheet and other Tech Cartoons
7 links in this newsletter
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Welcome to PraxIS

I am asking for feedback this month ... what theme would bring YOU to the 2010 Eusprig conference?

Only spreadsheet items this month, as I'm still catching up after the holidays and there is a sudden flurry of activity. (I'm not complaining!)

Patrick O'Beirne



Excel Development Guidelines

Members of the Excel-L list have been sharing ideas recently at

The discussion encompasses VBA, spreadsheet structure, and process management. Anybody using Excel a lot would find that list useful.

Named Ranges are being talked about

As Oscar Wilde said, there's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's not being talked about.

The Swamp Fox commented in the longest thread on the Financial Mechanics Client Forum, “Why does Fi-mech think Excel Names are bad?”

 In collaboration with F1F9, they drafted a definitive position on the FAST Modeling Standard, “Excel Names” (they're anti) page at

In support they mentioned a 2009 Eusprig paper “An Exploratory Analysis of the Impact of Named Ranges on the Debugging Performance of Novice Users” ( by Ruth McKeever, Brian Bishop, and Kevin McDaid of Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland (DKIT). They concluded that named ranges hindered debugging performance.

A sample  was “=EnglebertPayRate*DanielsRegularHours” which should have been “=EnglebertPayRate*EnglebertRegularHours”

It could be argued that the example is a misuse of range names because it replaces the matrix pattern of multiplication by disparate formulas. It's like users who type every formula separately laboriously and don't know how to create mixed relative and absolute addresses to make copying easier.

I use named ranges for single constants (parameters); and for ranges used by external links and by VBA. I'm not a fan of the type of formula that starts  YearToDateWidgetProfit = YearToDateWidgetRevenues-YearToDateWidgetCosts and goes on with further verbosity.

Eusprig 2010 Conference theme

The new Eusprig committee is starting work now on the July 2010 conference in Greenwich. What topics would bring YOU to the conference? Who would you come to hear?  By the way, to obtain all the 2009 Conference papers, just search using two keywords - eusprig 2009 - on

Two MS employees want your help in making Office Better

"If you've got a new feature idea or an idea on how to improve Microsoft Office, please share it here...and vote on  other ideas you agree with. Through the magic of crowd-sourcing the best ideas should rise to the top. Although we are employed by Microsoft, this is not an official  Microsoft website." auction

In fact the domain was renewed before the auction was closed,  25 bids were received with a high bid of over $1100. It is not in use for anything relevant at present. According to that article, " sold last year for $25,000 at the Traffic/Rick Latona auction."

Spreadsheet Check and Control: 47 best practices to detect and prevent errors



Simply send your comments to FEEDBACK (at) SYSMOD (dot) COM

Thank you! Patrick O'Beirne, Editor


4) Off Topic

Spreadsheet and other Tech Cartoons

Jocelyn Paine put up a 4MB Word file that contains four spreadsheet cartoons as well as other cartoons, and essays from his Dobbs Code Talk blog.


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