Excel Roundup 20140825

There is a free app available for Excel (2013 or Online version), that lets you create 8 different chart types, including some that aren’t standard Excel charts, such as box plots. The app is called XLMiner Data Visualization, and it’s created by Frontline Systems, which also makes the Solver add-in.

If you log in to your Microsoft account, you can download and install the app from the Microsoft Store. Then select data, and the chart appears in the app’s window. In the screen shot below, you can see the box plot chart that I created, in just a few seconds.

The free version of XLMiner lets you do the basics, and if you want more features, you can upgrade to the Pro version. It costs $995, about the same as Tableau Desktop. And if you want quick, fancy charts, at a much lower cost, take a look at Jon Peltier’s charting utility.

xlminer free app blog.contextures.com/

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Create Random Text in Excel

Last week, I was creating an Excel file with sample data, to use for a few experiments. But don’t worry, they weren’t mad-scientist-type experiments – I was doing Power Pivot experiments, and needed some data to play with.

I needed 2 types of data:

  • Numbers: sample test scores in one column
  • Text: random Region names and Gender in other columns.

Create random text in Excel http://blog.contextures.com/

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Excel Roundup 20140811

Does Ed Bott include your favorites in his list of 6 Excel power tips?

He included one of my favourites – Paste As Values. However, I usually Paste Values by dragging with the right-mouse button pressed, instead of using a keyboard shortcut. You can see that technique in the very short video below. Do you use the mouse or keyboard for Paste As Values?

Or watch on YouTube: Change Excel Formulas to Values With Mouse 

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Top 5 Items in Advanced Filter List

When you try to use the Top 10 filter, on a list that already has some filters applied, the results probably won’t be what you want. The Top 10 feature ignores the filters on other columns, and just returns values that are in the overall Top 10.

Recently, I showed a workaround for that problem in this blog post: Top Ten Values in Filtered Rows. In that example, I added a new column, and used the SUBTOTAL function to show the value, then filtered that new column. Hidden rows would have a value of zero, thanks to the SUBTOTAL function, so they wouldn’t be included in the ranking.


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Excel Roundup 20140728

The Office 365 Garage Series has a video on what’s new in the Office Apps, and they demonstrate some cool new features. The Excel App is mentioned at the 7:12 mark, when they look at the new APIs for formatting.

However, at the 3:12 mark, they downplay the old development methods, including VBA and COM, and rave about the new methods -- HTML and JavaScript, that are used for the online versions of Office.

Apparently it’s almost impossible to find people who are still working in the older development platforms. What do you think of the chart they use to “validate” the trend? Are they really using a sample size of 12 COM jobs, compared to a final number of 5 JavaScript jobs? I’m not a statistician, but that doesn’t qualify as “dramatic decline” versus a “huge insurgence” in my opinion!

I did like the way that he drew on the chart though, to change it from a column to a line chart. You can see that at the 4:20 mark in the video below.

Or watch on YouTube: What's new in the world of apps for Office?

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Set Row Height With REPT Function

Thanks to AlexJ for suggesting a great use for the REPT function – setting a minimum row height. He uses this technique to add a bit of spacing in his tables, so they’re easier to read.

You can watch the steps in this video (or watch it on YouTube), and the step-by-step instructions are below the video.

Add Space in an Excel List

For example, here is my To Do list, with a few items to work on, around the house. Most of the Task Descriptions are short, and fit in a single line.

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Excel Roundup 20140714

Are you using Power Pivot or any of the other Power BI tools in Excel 2013? If you’re not sure where to start, there is a new series on the Power BI blog, that will help you dive into the new BI and visualization features.

The series outline is here, and it will have links to all the articles, as they are added to the blog. The first article is Getting Started with Power Query – Part 1, and it features the 15-minute video shown below. You’ll need Excel 2013, and the article has a link to download the Power Query add-in.

Contextures Posts

Here’s what I posted recently:

  • Enter a number in the input box, and that amount is added to each cell in the selected range, with this macro. I use this to add a week, to a  group  of date cells.
  • I sent out an update for my PivotPower Premium add-in last week. If you missed the email, or didn’t open it before the deadline, please let me know and I’ll send you a new link. You can read about the new features on my Pivot Table blog.
  • Finally, for a humorous peek at what other people are saying about spreadsheets, read the latest collection of Excel tweets, on my Excel Theatre blog.

Other Excel Articles

Here are a few of the Excel articles that I read recently, that you might find useful:

  • On Microsoft’s MSDN Blog, Eric Ligman shared a list of free ebooks, including Excel shortcuts and quick start guide.

Excel Announcements

Here are some upcoming events, courses, recently published books, and other new items, related to Excel.

  • Mynda Treacy’s Excel Dashboard course is open for registration, and I highly recommend this online course, which has excellent content, and great student support from Mynda. Save 20% if you sign up by July 24th. Registration closes on July 31st.
    BONUS: If you sign up for the course through this link, you can have a copy of any one of my Contextures Products. When you sign up, type DebraD in the Referral Code box (below the Buy Now button), and email me your receipt number.

    Excel Dasboard Course

  • Charles Williams has released a new version his add-in, FastExcel V3, and you’ll get 50% off the bundle price, if you use Coupon Code FXLV3Intro Warning: The 50% Discount ends soon -- July 31 2014. Don’t miss the deadline!


498411exceltables Excel Tables: A Complete Guide (pdf version)
by Zack Barresse and Kevin Jones

”The book begins by explaining what tables are, how to create them, and how they can be used in reporting before moving on to slightly more advanced topics, including slicers and filtering, working with VBA macros, and using tables in the Excel web app. Novice Excel users and experts alike will find relevant, useful, and authoritative information in this one-of-a-kind resource. “

Share Your Events and Articles

If you read or wrote any other interesting Excel articles recently, or have upcoming Excel events, please share a link in the comments below, with a brief description. Thanks!


Learn Excel Dashboard Course

Links to Recent Excel Books on Amazon.com


Add New Items to Excel Drop Down List

There are a few sample files on my web site that let you automatically add new items to a drop down list. The most recent version works in newer versions of Excel, and uses named tables to store the lists.

When the code detects a new item, it asks if you want to add it to the drop down. If you click Yes, the item is added, and the lookup list is sorted in alphabetical order.

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