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And now, Excel 2007 has a few nasty surprises

I ran into something maddening today. I have a large number of self-study questions in plaintext format that I’ve been using to prepare for my upcoming test. To weed out the large number of duplicates, I massaged the file into a tab-separated format so I could load it into Excel and alphabetize it by the question wording. It worked nicely, especially in Excel 2003.

I got a nasty surprise when I loaded the same file on an Excel 2007-equipped machine.

Excel 2003 handled the file with no issues whatsoever. But I found that questions that exceeded some length–a length I wasn’t able to quickly and easily determine–caused Excel 2007 to just hash out the question. Not just on the display, which has always been normal behavior–it actually replaced the text with a ton of hash marks.

Fortunately I was able to recover the question text from an unaltered copy of the file. After weeding the duplicates, I loaded the file into Word, loaded an unaltered copy of the file in another window, and copied and pasted over the hashed-out data. Luckily for me, none of the hashed-out questions were among the duplicates.

If Microsoft wants to know why its stock price is in the dumper, perhaps removing functionality from its core products has something to do with it. I’ve long had problems finding things under the atrocious ribbon system, but here’s a case where Excel 2007 (I haven’t used Excel 2010 yet) is demonstrably less capable than its predecessor, which now dates back nearly a decade.

My oldest son is preschool aged, and is fond of running around saying, “And now, we have a few nasty surprises!” They must be teaching Microsoft Office at his preschool I guess.

3 thoughts on “And now, Excel 2007 has a few nasty surprises”

  1. If you had been anybody else in the world, I would have assumed that it was just the display. Wow. What a bug.

    1. I didn’t believe it myself until I loaded the file back into Word and saw it.

      Is this what I get for using Word and Excel when the proper tool would be Emacs?

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