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exceldatabar.jpgthe new MS Excel 12 software will feature 'conditional formatting', which allows users to apply formatting to cell(s) automatically depending on the value of the cell or the value of a formula. this feature makes it easy to highlight certain values (e.g. 'all test scores below 50% turn red' or 'all tasks assigned to Dave turn green') or, even better, to generate some simple but powerful data visualizations, as the developers 'wanted to provide users with great new data visualization tools so that users could scan & quickly comprehend large quantities of information: see outliers, spot trends, compare values, etc'. three new data visualizations are planned: 'data bars' (pictured above), 'colour scales', & 'icon sets'. now, if Microsoft only could also include treemaps (e.g. google & smartmoney market cap) & sparklines (please)... [msdn.com]


Excel (and OOcalc and many others) have had conditional formatting for a long time. What looks new from the screen shot is the style that can be applied looks much more flexible.

I regularly use the existing formatting features to produce tables of test coverage against machine types. Most people who look at the table are not interested in the specific values; but they do care about what areas need more work. I totally agree with you that it allows you to create a visualisation of the data that can be grasped much quicker than if you had to read all the individual figures.

The ability to overlaying a barchart in the cells themselves (as the screen shot suggests) would be a great new feature; it lets the casual reader see the proportionality of the values, whilst the more interested party can see the actual data.

I just hope OpenOffice is able to support this sooner rather than later - not having a Windows computer to run Office on!

Thu 06 Oct 2005 at 8:17 PM

But can you sort by color?

Fri 07 Oct 2005 at 5:21 AM
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