It's been decades since spreadsheets became the original killer app on personal computers, one of the main reasons people bought early PCs and Apple IIs. And they're still some of the most versatile software.
There's Microsoft Excel, with its extensive library of functions and add-ons, the default business spreadsheet. There's Google Sheets, the original online spreadsheet, that's better for sharing. There's Smartsheet for a newer take on spreadsheets mixed with project management, Numbers for Apple's design-focused take on number crunching, and new spreadsheet-in-document tools like Coda and Quip or the spreadsheet-style databases in Airtable and Notion.
What's your favorite spreadsheet app? Sticking with Excel, collaborating with Google Sheets, or using a newer upstart?
Or, perhaps, do you still rely on VisiCalc in an emulator?
Recently used Coda for the first time and feel in love. What a great tool with everything you need built in. Set it up to populate from a TypeForm Survey using Zapier to integrate and I am so excited to do it again. :D
Google Sheets is my default spreadsheet app, for a few of the reasons @siddxxvii mentioned. Integrations let your spreadsheet work while you sleep, and do much more than a static file could, and add-ons let you push Google Sheets beyond its built-in features. Web-centric functions like Google Sheets' importxml and Google Finance queries make it easier to pull in data for unique use-cases. And sharing is the core feature that ties it all together, making your spreadsheets something collaborative and easy to send around without wondering if things will render correctly on others' devices.
Then, while it's a database, not a spreadsheet, I've increasingly used Notion's tables to organize data that would otherwise have gone in a spreadsheet. It's great for the project planning and research work that can be done in a spreadsheet, where you're using a spreadsheet to organize stuff rather than to calculate values (same goes for Airtable, which feels like it's reinventing Microsoft Access by making people feel like it's Excel, but in the cloud, something the newer Spreadsheet.com is taking to an extreme with an Excel/Sheets-style interface).
Another newer spreadsheet I want to try more is dashdash—which looks like a spreadsheet turned into an app builder, with deeper integrations and functions built for web tools.
Google Spreadsheets has to take the win - forget being an incredible tool, it's free!
The 2 knocks that I would give it:
1) If you're looking to share information with a client, Sheets is likely not going to provide you with the best UI.
2) The tool doesnt offer much in terms of granular permission settings (set specific users to edit/view an individual column or cell)
If these 2 points don't apply to your use-case (and of couse as others have mentioned, you aren't calculating data in tens-of-thousands of rows), you can't go wrong with Sheets.
We've had this debate a few times and I wrote up my grievances with both products recently:
Where Excel fails:
- Collaboration (no live sharing, version control, easy to break if pasting and rows/collumns has been removed etc)
- Fewer (if any) live integrations
- Data visualisation (chart tools haven't really evolved)
Where Gsheets fails:
- Difficult to use for models above a certain level of complexity (e.g. large sheets, data tables, specialist functions)
- No keyboard shortcuts → slows everything down
In my current role being able to easily collaborate is a higher priority so I'll (reluctantly) join the Google Sheets camp. But as a former investment banker who 'grew up' on Excel it's hard to love Sheets for anything except simple tables. As soon as there's some degree of complexity the lack of shortcuts is painful and I'd almost rather build in Excel and convert the file into Sheets later.
I will be on google sheet side. I feel google sheet has come a long way and improved the features each year. With google sheet you can have some functions and flexibility like other sheet apps, for eg you can create smartsheet like feature on google sheet with some editing. Google sheet add-on directory is also increasing which helps the user to innovate more on what they want and how they want their sheets to react, and also you can integrate thousands of app with google sheet directly or via zapier which provides more personalised use cases.
I have used coda and smartsheet as well but wouldnt consider them as a full featured spreadsheet to solve all problems and needs of a user.
My favorite as well is Google Spreadsheets. I know many people who are preferring Microsoft Excel due to the Microsoft usage among enterprises and Excel's performance in big data. Still, if your job doesn't force you to analyze more than 100,000 rows, then I don't think Google Spreadsheets would create any issues. Its plugins and connector formulas are beneficial in achieving complex goals.
Regarding Notion, I'm using it very actively to keep track of many things and linking everything together, but I can't imagine using it for data analysis. Its spreadsheets are handy for keeping track of some information with dynamic attributes. But that information needs to be within the limits of a human so that it helps productivity rather than make it overly complicated.
If I have to do some analysis that doesn't require collaboration, I'll use Excel. I feel better in Excel, handles big volume better and I use all the shortcuts which makes me way faster and productive.
That being said, most of what I do now requires collaboration so I default to Google Sheets.
If any of you need to use spreadsheets with data from external sources (SQL database, Hubspot, Stripe, etc), you should check out actiondesk.io (disclaimer, I'm the founder).
Actiondesk is a full fledged spreadsheet that lets you import and refresh data from external sources.
If you often copy pasting csv data or writing scripts to automate this, you might be interested!
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