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What is it that makes people think "Excel Format" is a standard for transferring data?

By Andrew Pollack on 09/28/2005 at 12:39 PM EDT

What follows is the text of an actual response I sent to an associate of mine after reviewing a response to questions we had on an RFP. I had asked what kind of format we could expect to see for the regular updates of data to be sent to us.

Only comment --

Why do sales and marketing people always think "Excel format" is "very easy to work with"? Its not. Its the least likely to be stable, reliable, and always formatted the same way. It is the data format equivalent of crayons on waxpaper. It almost always has column headers in the same columns as row data, and is almost impossible to reliably machine process.

Grr. I've been dealing with the exact statement since at least 1992.

Anyway -- as with other clients, the lack of a formally defined (standardized, documented) file for data transfers makes the import process subject to potential costly project creep. Please be aware of this.

There are  - loading -  comments....

crayons on wax paper...By jonvon on 09/28/2005 at 01:30 PM EDT
LOL!!! crayons on wax paper... too funny!! too true!!!!
Completely Agree But...By Chris Whisonant on 09/28/2005 at 03:23 PM EDT
I agree with that - sometimes Excel data is HORRIBLY formatted (especially if
you have to import data...). BUT, a properly formatted spreadsheet is very
useful for getting data. I'm working on a project and someone gave me a floppy
disk with the "file" of prospective customers.

I get it back to the office and it's an HTML file that just points to the
organizations website of members. There's no way to get them imported easily
that way. It's just a website with a listing of Business name, address, and
phone number. Good grief - I would take an Excel file anyday! =)
My own thoughts on this are...By Tom on 09/29/2005 at 11:58 AM EDT
Yeah, I'm with Chris on that one- most of the common alternatives to Excel are
way worse. When someone tells me they have a spreadsheet with the data in it,
I'm usually relieved.

Sure, a one time dump maybe. But on a regular, automated basis?By Andrew Pollack on 09/29/2005 at 08:46 PM EDT
You may as well send smoke signals. Why not just take a photograph of a
monitor showing the data, then print a copy of the photo and send it through a
cheap fax machine?

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