Thursday, September 09, 2010

A suggestion for Apple's Numbers app

I totally love Numbers as a spreadsheeting app. Sure some people moan about a lack of pivot tables, whatever the hell they might be, but for me it's perfect and works the way I like to think, that is, all over the place and visually.

I used to love Excel but could never go back.

But more and more I find I'm building a lot of spreadsheets where I need to be able to show various scenarios based on various changes in prices outside of the control of my model. (eg exchange rates). This is not uncommon and more that once my colleague Ross and I have moaned about the absence of probabilistic range fields in spreadsheets. And today, as I hit the same issue again, I finally did something about it and sent the following Numbers enhancement request to Apple. I have no idea if they'll read it, or even care, but if they did adopt this idea I'd be thrilled as for me, and for many others, this feature is a missing killer feature in spreadsheets.

Dear Apple,

I'd like a cell that let me input a range (optionally with a probability curve) and any formula that linked off of that cell then also displayed things as a range (it could be coloured, or ignored like a quantum property and be in a superimposition of all states in the range, and only revealed when observed)

No spreadsheet system allows for this right now and I end up resorting to very clumsy workarounds for what, in an uncertain world, would seem a totally obvious feature.

Add that as a feature to the next iWork and you could advertise it as "Spreadsheets for an improbable world."

It's certainly thinking differently.

I hope you see fit to adopt this suggestion as I think it would be a totally killer-app feature for many many people trying to model uncertainty.

Cheers Dave

Wish me luck friends.

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