Is Excel our Friend or Enemy?

Have you ever had a task where you are supposed to create a calculation program using Excel? Well, I get this task a lot since I am an engineer and we do a lot of calculations.  Thus, we need Excel to speed things up for us.  So I began to wonder, is excel here to help us or is it here to put more frustration into our lives?

Yesterday, I spend 4 hours trying to write a program in Excel that would tell me whether the specific reinforcement design would meet the American Concrete Institute (ACI) standards.  I have to write a dozen functions and set up another dozen of input trying to satisfy the scenario and not only that, after I’ve written three “if” functions, it doesn’t work.  “#value” just popped up.  I mean, all I wanted it to do was to print “yes” when the standards are satisfied and “no” when it’s not.  How hard is that? Doesn’t it just drives you crazy to know that your function doesn’t work correctly after all the work you went through?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Excel is a great program when you know what you’re doing like organizing a huge inventory list or balance your check book.  But I think Excel can be a headache to use like it’s functions and statements not to mention when you’re using Visual Basics within Excel.

Let’s face it, Excel has a million functions that most of us probably will never be able to use in a lifetime.  It will probably take someone with photographic memory to memorize all those “if” functions, “vlookup”, or even the “and” and “or” functions.  For some of us though, all Excel needs to do right now is to be calculator.

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