Google Drive : SheetsSheets is a web-based spreadsheet application that is part of Google Drive’s suite of products. It competes most directly with Microsoft Excel, and by extension, other spreadsheet applications like Apple’s Numbers.
I chose to dig in to Google Sheets because it’s the one I would most often share with other users. In my use so far, I think this spreadsheet application merits examination.
Sheets' main competition is Microsoft Excel. Excel’s mature user interface has a finer looking presentation and the established look of a standalone app. It’s fast, powerful, and bloated. Excel is more responsive overall because it’s housed on a local drive.
Some surprising strengths can be found in Sheets, though. Conditional formatting here is much more intuitive, and immediately useful (e.g. if text contains “http” then color text red)
|A complicated task like splitting names |
with multiple parts is made easy in Sheets.
Google continues pushing this theme of ‘frequent=easy’ in that the most commonly used items are found in easy to reach places. For example, in the Function pulldown (Sigma symbol) SUM, AVERAGE< COUNT MAX MIN are immediately displayed, with ‘more functions’ left to the users extra click. It simplifies the interface and focuses attention.
Sheets is likely much easier for a user new to spreadsheets to understand. For example, in the menu for ‘EDIT’, ‘Delete row 5’ or ‘Delete column D’ is expressly stated in context in the dynamic pulldown menu when you have highlighted cell D5. In excel, only ‘delete row’ or delete column’ is an option every time and not contextual. Even an experienced user does a double take before deleting, and then checks again after an action has occurred.
There is one chief feature that might tip the balance to Sheets: All previous revisions are saved in drive. Click ‘Saved in drive’ to see the dated versions available. And by saved, they are saved automatically. No manual saving needed!
(When writing this review in MS Word, I failed to save when I logged out and did not transfer edits to the dropbox version. Not saved. If I had been working in Google Drive, I would not have lost the edits.)
On a down side, Google’s Material design effort to give their apps a consistent clean new look has flattened everything out to such a degree that it can be difficult to find the low-contrast scrollbar you need to move your view around.
Skeumorphic design is terrible, yes, but flatter isn’t a better answer.
Drive spreadsheets would likely be just fine for P-12 users, and most higher education users except for mathematics, business or scientific uses. I’m guessing it would take a very robust user to reach the limits of Sheets versatility in those fields.
Collaboration is easy with Sheets as well. Multiple users, logged in anywhere with a connection and login privileges can edit at the same time. Users can be given selected permission in parts of the document as well.
Overall, I’m a convert!
More discussion about Excel vs. Drive here.
Sumoware Sumo PaintI have to admit my expectations were low for this or any other image editing software program. Photoshop is such a massive overperformer, a comparison to it isn’t really fair. So I stepped back and thought about what a non-photoshop user would need.
In the end, I looked at Sumo Paint with new eyes and came away rather impressed.
It was responsive when creating new items. It is slow when interacting with an existing image requiring more processing power (such as a rubber stamp cloning tool).
But most users wouldn’t be expecting quick and complicated results, and they would be using simple or ‘goofy’ tools.
Another downside to Sumo, the toolbars are just as complex as Photoshop, but not as powerful or customizable.
|Yes, this can be done, but why?|
A big downside for literal, pre-millenials like me: Help topics are youtube videos. No written documentation to be found. I had to watch a video to understand the ink pen tool. I still don’t really get it.
And then a final reminder that we’re in a web-based app: a message from the system:
‘A plugin isn’t responding. (Shockwave flash)’
While Sumo Paint greatly exceeded the expectation, they were set very low to begin with. I would not count it out, and I could recommend it, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it day after day.