Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Surprise! Excel spreadsheets are hard to get right.

Via Win-Vector Blog:

  • Excel has a lot of non-controllable data transforms including booleans, and dates. Some of these transforms are non-faithful or not reversible.
  • Very few tools that claim to interoperate with Excel actually get the corner cases right. Even for simple well-documented data types like Excel CSV export. And definitely not for the native .xlsx format.
Because working with data that has passed through Excel is hard to get right, data that has passed through Excel is often wrong.
The author also recommended using other formats to exchange data:  SQL dumps, JSON and strong TSV.”

Good idea. I don't see it happen anytime soon though. A reliable and improved way to export to CSV or similar are more realistic.

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