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Archive for the ‘Office Suite’ Category

dBase Support Returns to Access

Long before Access came on the personal computer scene, there was dBase. Ultimately, several other data management systems used the same .dbf file format, including FoxPro and Paradox.

From time to time, Access developers may be working with clients who want to incorporate legacy date currently stored in dBase (.dbf) format into an Access project. Some time ago, Access dropped .dbf support. Now we have good news, .dbf support has returned to the Access platform.

Access Now Included in Office 365 Roadmap

Exciting news for the Access community – for the first time Access now appears in the Office 365 Roadmap. See this UtterAccess news announcement. TheSmileyCoder, one of my UtterAccess colleagues has posted a review here. Use this link to go directly to Access features currently listed on the Roadmap.

Five Essential Keyboard Shortcuts

ShortcutTrying to learn keyboard shortcuts can be intimidating; there are just so many. Like most problems, however, you can overcome the problem by breaking it down to bite-sized chunks. So if you haven’t been using keyboard shortcuts, start by learning and using just these five. Chances once you have used them only a few times, they will become second nature. Remember that some keyboard shortcuts require a combination of keys. That means you press and hold the first (second, and third, in some cases) and tap the last. As you will see, frequently the key to use makes logical sense but sometimes it doesn’t.

<ctrl>A Select the entire document
<ctrl>X Cut the selected content or object(s)
<ctrl>C Copy the selected content or object(s)
<ctrl>V Paste what you have cut or copied
<ctrl>Z Undo the last action you did

These particular keyboard shortcuts (and many more, actually) have a consistent Beachmeaning throughout the Windows world. Whether you are working with a Word Document, an Excel Workbook, a PowerPoint Presentation, any other Office document, or Windows (File) Explorer, you use the same keyboard shortcuts.

Why bother learning these or other keyboard shortcuts? It’s all about time. To be sure, the time you save by using a keyboard shortcut once is insignificantly brief. But these shortcuts do things that you do frequently and repeatedly whenever you are working on your computer. Think of those tiny slivers of time as grains of sand on a beach. Save enough of them any you will have time for a beach vacation.

Links for the technically inclined:

Announcing the Biggest VM Sizes Available in the Cloud: New Azure GS-VM Series

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/announcing-the-biggest-vm-sizes-available-in-the-cloud-new-azure-gs-vm-series?WT.mc_id=dx_MVP4000580

Important announcement in Azure space

 

Announcing VP9 support coming to Microsoft Edge

http://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2015/09/08/announcing-vp9-support-coming-to-microsoft-edge/?WT.mc_id=dx_MVP4000580

New feature for Microsoft Edge

 
 

Unity 5.2 and Visual Studio Tools for Unity 2.1

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudio/archive/2015/09/08/unity-5-2-and-visual-studio-tools-for-unity-2-1.aspx?WT.mc_id=dx_MVP4000580

Visual Studio is the new default Unity scripting editor on Windows

 

Announcing the Microsoft Azure Tour

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-the-microsoft-azure-tour/?WT.mc_id=dx_MVP4000580

The Microsoft Azure Tour is a free one day technical training event for developers and IT professionals to help you achieve more success with Azure.

 

Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Online

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/cdndevs/archive/2015/09/02/visual-studio-code-and-visual-studio-online.aspx?WT.mc_id=dx_MVP4000580

Blog on the integration with Git

 

Excel Function Key Shortcuts

I resisted learning and using keyboard shortcuts for more years than I care to admit. In recent years, however, I have come to appreciate just how valuable keyboard shortcuts can be in Excel and almost any other application you can name. The Blog ExcelTip has just published a detailed article about Function Key Shortcuts that is definitely worth a read if your are interested in expanding your shortcut key horizon.

Office 2016 Pre-Release Program Expanded

Looking to see where Microsoft are heading with the next release of Office (2016)?

Office CloudWant to see new features in action?

Interesting in trying the look and feel of the next Office version for yourself?

Want to provide your feedback to Microsoft and help shape the final product?

Then the Office 2016 Preview program is for you.

According to the download page, “You should try the Office 2016 Preview if you: enjoy trying out software that’s still being developed and providing your insights and feedback; you know how to reinstall your previous version of Office; and you know your way around a PC and feel comfortable troubleshooting problems, backing up data, and uninstalling and installing the Office.”

Read more about the program and sign up here

Office 2016 Public Preview

Yesterday Microsoft announced Office 2016 availability for public preview. Details and a link to the Office 2016 Preview site are in this blog article.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve transformed Office from a suite of desktop applications to a complete, cross-platform, cross-device solution for getting work done. We’ve expanded the Office footprint to iPad and Android tablets. We’ve upgraded Office experiences on the Mac, the iPhone and on the web. We’ve even added new apps to the Office family with Sway and Office Lens. All designed to keep your work moving, everywhere. But that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten where we came from. While you’ve seen us focus on tuning Office for different platforms over the last year, make no mistake, Office on Windows desktop is central to our strategy.

Office Blogs

This version introduces some exciting new Office features:

  • Anywhere Document authoring
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Smart Applications
  • Faster and easier data analysis

All in all this looks like an exciting advance in Office technology.

Office 2010 Ribbon from the User’s Perspective

Introduced in some Office 2007 applications, the Fluent User Interface is Microsoft’s attempt to ‘expose’ (make more readily available) the commands used to work with an Office application. With Office 2010, all Office applications use this style of user interface. For the average user, the most visible aspect of the Fluent User Interface is the Ribbon, which replaced the menus and toolbar interface style of Office applications from ‘97 through to 2003.

On the positive side the Fluent User Interface does a creditable job of displaying, and making more easily available, the commands that serve the needs of the vast majority of users. In the menu/toolbar style that preceded the Fluent User Interface, some commands necessarily had to be buried in the menu structure. Only the most adventurous user stood any chance of accidentally discovering some of these commands.

The Ribbon, on the other hand makes it possible for the user to easily discover many more commands simply by exploring the contents of each tab. What users will encounter however, are differences in the appearance of the Ribbon depending on the current width of the Application window and the monitor’s resolution.

Notice the detail on the Home tab of the Excel 2010 Ribbon for example:

image

This is a screenshot of the Ribbon as it is displayed in a very wide window. For display purposes here, the image had to be somewhat resized. Compare that image with this one, using a narrower window:

image

In the first image, the Styles group has a rich assortment of buttons. In the second, the styles group has only three buttons. In to see the cell styles gallery, you have to click the Cell Styles button dropdown.

image

With progressively narrower windows more and more groups are collapsed to a few essential buttons which you must click in order to see all the possibilities a group offers:

image

Here the Styles group has been reduced to a single button:

image

Here, the Number and Cells groups are also reduced to single buttons:

image

When the window is extremely narrow, most groups are barely recognizable. Notice that none of the tabs can display their full name:

image

It is even possible to reach a point where there is no longer enough screen with to display the full Ribbon:

image

When that happens, ‘expander’ buttons appear, allowing you to navigate to hidden portions of the Ribbon.

Practically speaking, it is unlikely that you would ever use such an extremely narrow window as in the last graphic but keep in mind that screen resolution also affects how the Ribbon will display. The lower the resolution setting, the more likely it is that you will see a truncated view of the Ribbon.

Training Methods Survey

What kind of computer training works best for you? If you have a few minutes, please take my survey.

Click here to take survey

3D Graphs Fool the Viewer’s Eye

Recently, a colleague distributed some rather important health and well-being statistics, illustrating the data with an exploded 3D Graph. Unfortunately, while 3D graphs are more pleasing to the eye than their flat cousins; the perspective necessary to create the 3D illusion, distorts the values being plotted.

Here’s an example using simple arbitrary data. First the exploded version:

 

Pie 3D

Pie Flat

 

 

 

 

 

Notice how, in the 3D version, the Cons wedge appears smaller than the Pros wedge, even though the two wedges represent exactly the same value (46%). In the flat version, on the other hand, the Pros and Cons wedges appear to have exactly the same size.

Is it the Exploded view that creates this illusion? Consider the following unexploded views. The illusion persists.

 

Pie 3D UnexpPie Flat Unexp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An unscrupulous presenter could easily use this illusion to distort the facts and unfairly influence his/her audience. (Remember the adage: “Figures don’t lie; liars figure”?) Think about a political race, for example. Depending on which position the presenter wants to improve the apparent advantage of, all he or she has to do is rotate the 3D chart accordingly to immediately improve the apparent advantage of the favoured position:

Pie 3D Unexp

Pie 3D Cons Ahead

 

 

 

The Pros Have It!

The Cons Have It!

Of course, these examples include data labels to help the viewer’s interpretation. Omitting the labels can only make the dishonest presenter’s self-appointed task of deception easier.

So the next time you have to create a graph, think carefully about purpose of graphs and avoid the inevitable optical illusions inherent in 3D charts.

So You Want to Expand Your Office Knowledge?

Here are some useful links that I have recently come across on the Web. The list is weighted in favour of Excel only because, at the moment, I am doing mostly Excel training.

OFFICE

Migrating from Excel 2003 to Excel 2010

A help guide to working with the Fluent User Interface (Ribbon) first introduced in Office 2007 and enhanced in Office 2010, replacing traditional menus and toolbars

BLOGS AND PEER SUPPORT SITES

Office Tips and Methods

A blog focusing on tips and how to techniques for getting the most out of Microsoft Office Applications

UtterAccess

User peer support forum primarily focused on Microsoft Access but with an active Excel forum as well

Mr. Excel

Bill Jelen’s (Mr. Excel) site includes peer support forum and many pages of Excel help and tips from Mr. Excel himself

Excel is Fun!

YouTube gateway to the ExcelisFun channel –hundreds of well documented videos illustrating how to do just about anything in Excel.

Microsoft Answers

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel-help/use-excel-spin-boxes-to-help-with-financial-modeling-HA001226521.aspx?pid=CL100570551033

EXCEL

http://www.scoop.it/t/excel-hero-linkedin-group/

An excellent collection of Excel related links

http://www.lynda.com/Excel-2007-tutorials/Data-Validation-in-Depth/77849-2.html

Clever data validation example

http://www.andypope.info/charts.htm

Charting Examples

http://dmcritchie.mvps.org/excel/colors.htm

Color Palette and the 56 Excel ColorIndex Colors:

http://www.contextures.com/xlUserForm01.html

Create an Excel UserForm

https://sites.google.com/site/exceladdinsdirectory/

Excel Add-ins Directory:

http://www.excel-blackbelt.com/

Analytics and Visualization

http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/exceldev/threads

Excel for Developers

http://excel.tips.net/C0200_Macros.html

ExcelTips:

http://www.excel-spreadsheet.com/vba/vba.htm

Excel VBA – Reference Guide

http://www.exinfm.com/free_spreadsheets.html

Free Spreadsheets

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/microsoft.public.excel.programming

microsoft.public.excel.programming:

http://www.gummy-stuff.org/Excel/

Index of /Excel:

http://spreadsheetpage.com/

The Spreadsheet Page:

https://sites.google.com/site/exceladdinsdirectory/home/main-directory

Excel Add-ins Directory

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/excel

Use Excel spin boxes to help with financial modeling:

http://www.functionx.com/vbaexcel/

VBA for Microsoft Office Excel 2007

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ms_excel/

Yahoo Groups MS_Excel

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ExcelVBA/

Yahoo Groups Excel VBA:training.