Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alternatives to Excel

I can almost hear what you are thinking: “Alternatives to Excel?? Sacrilege! Blasphemy! What would Bill Gates say?!?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know, Microsoft has without much question, the best, deepest, and most robust spreadsheet application in computing today, but there are times when alternatives may be a viable option.

First of all, many companies, as well as individuals, are facing necessary belt-tightening during our recession and so-called post recessionary times. That being the case, FREE software applications can have a powerful allure! There are also many users who Simply Do Not Need (and would probably never miss) the many bells and whistles that are included in our favorite app.

So what are the best alternatives to Excel? The following are some likely candidates:

Calc – This spreadsheet application is found in Open Office, and is totally Free. Excel workbooks can be imported into Calc, but this application may have trouble interpreting some of the more sophisticated Excel worksheets. It is, however, certainly a good alternative for those who want a quite powerful spreadsheet application and are on a budget.

Numbers – This is, of course, the Apple spreadsheet app. Since I often rely on my two iPads and my iPhone, I have become quite familiar with this alternative. Numbers spreadsheets can be exported to Excel, (unlike many of the free apps), and is a worthy rival to Excel. True to Apple’s penchant for making things “Pretty”, Numbers is outstanding for making Engaging Charts. It is inexpensive, and worth a look if you use any Apple products.

Google Docs – Where would we be if we didn’t include something from Google. Besides getting the job done and being Free, spreadsheets are stored in, and can be retrieved from, the Internet. Cloud Computing may strike many as being the Latest Fad in computing, but this does carry many advantages from Accessibility and Sharing standpoints.

Lotus Symphony – This IBM product includes an intuitive and free spreadsheet application that offers a surprising amount of Flexibility. Your work can be saved in many formats, including OpenDocument, Microsoft and Apple.

Alternatives; No, I am not going to be switching from Excel to any other application for the majority of my spreadsheet work, but it is nice to know they are there.

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