One area that a little extra learning ALWAYS pays off in is Microsoft Excel. Was reminded of that last week when during a training session and pasting the results of some T-SQL queries into a spreadsheet I showed how clicking the top-left-most corner cell to highlight the entire spreadsheet and then double-clicking the divider between the A & B column headings would automatically resize all columns to their proper width amazed and delighted some who did not know that – was told by one person that even if I was not able to teach anything else, the training was worth it for that – always nice to have a low hurdle to success.
So last week when I got a MSDN email for a new Excel skills website from Microsoft, I had to check it out and I love it.
Here is the site
It is divided into 4 easy lessons, each one split into 4-5 lessons each one taking a minute or two – nice – I love learning in bite-size chunks, and it even tracks for you which ones you have taken
But specifically I liked the Lesson on Visual Analysis inside of Excel as I KNOW there are so many tips and tricks to using the visualization tools in Excel that would pay off but I just don’t feel like adding an Excel reference book to my reading list at this time – but here were 5 easy, small lessons that are already changing how I view some data visualizations
Starting with Conditional formatting, some nice tips and walkthroughs were nice, but got more excited with the Sparklines lesson
And got introduced for the first time to the WinLoss bar visualization (and the awesome Excel trick of merging a range of cells into 1 giant cell) so that visualizations such as sparklines can be even more prominent on a sheet as seen below
I am sure others knew of the ability to merge cells into 1, and maybe I had seen that in the Excel menus in the past and wondered why I would ever need it – now after this sparkline tutorial, I get it and why it is a powerful tool.
So while I continue to read and learn about other BI tools – you’ll forgive me if I have to remain most excited about Excel2010, its PowerPivotAddIn, and the data visualization capabilities inside of it – because for me, this is what “BI for the masses” really means.