27th August 2007 at 7:07 pm

Apple iWork 08 Review – Wrong Numbers

I had high hopes as Apple finally added a spreadsheet to the iWork suite. As a long time user of Microsoft Excel (since version 2), I know that even now I only use a fraction of Excel’s features (though still a lot more than most). It shouldn’t have been hard for Apple to provide a usable entry level spreadsheet application, but somehow they have managed to fail.

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My first test was importing my financial spreadsheet. It only use a couple of functions and a minimum of formating. The resulting Numbers spreadsheet was a complete disaster

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Now the formating that accounts for most of the errors is just using UK currency with fixed decimal places.
The formula is “WORKDAY”, which, admittedly is from the analysis toolpak, but finding out that was the culprit was near impossible – you can’t click on the error message and ask it to show you the cell(s) it relates to. I had 25K + cells all marked to say that they had an import error.

OK , dealt with that problem, next, the spreadsheet is very wide and quite tall, hundreds of columns – and around 60 rows. As soon as you scroll, left, or up, you lose the column/row titles because Numbers does not support the basic Excel/Lotus 123 facility to freeze panes!, The best you can do is use the Column/Row headers facility in conjunction with the print layout view. Now the Column/Row cells are a special kind of cell, you can’t just click on your existing headers and say “make this the header row”.

There never was a second test – Numbers isn’t a spreadsheet application – it’s Pages with enhanced tables.

Hopefully they will fix these fundamental omissions in a patch, rather than waiting for the next version.