Thursday, November 03, 2005

And that's putting it lightly. If I verbalized the actual language I thought as I analyzed this spreadsheet, my blog would get smacked by every content blocker out there. Suffice to say, of all the poorly constructed spreadsheets I've ever seen, this was the worst. Not because it was thrown together or cobbled by kids, but rather it was a precisely assembled example of how to render your data unusable. So what am I scribbling about? The job that gave me so much time to blog on Monday is finally feeding me the pieces of the project on which I am working. And in true bureaucratic fashion, I am being fed these pieces in reverse order of relevance. The spreadsheet I should have seen on Monday was introduced to me at the end of yesterday. Perhaps this is fortuitous for now I am too entrenched to flee from the sight of this wretched document.
So what makes it so horrid? I have split that into the following categories: Appearance, useable data, and appropriate use of formulas. Allow me to elaborate...
Appearance: Upon opening the sheet, I was barraged with pink headers and orange rows. Not all the rows were orange but most were, for no discernable reason and in no logical pattern. It looks like it started off all orange then new rows were inserted at random spots. One thing that is easily fixed but still counts as an appearance flaw is that the window was split and frozen so that more than the headers and leaders were shown. When I started scrolling through it, I was stunned when the top eight rows of data didn't move.
Useable Data: Okay, appearance is not a big deal so long as you can get use the data. Having first and last name clumped in one column is not very useful when it ultimately needs to be separate. Listing those names in two different formats in alternating order is retarded. Forcing dates to be entered as hard text so they will display in a nonstandard format instead of setting up a custom format for those columns is also not so bright. In fact, all the data, which was a mix of text and numeric values was forced into text format, again for no apparent reason.
Appropriate Use of Formulas: to be fair, there was no inappropriate use of formulas if only because there was no formula use at all. Column F did use data from the next three columns, a pattern that was repeated thrice, but instead of using a formula to get that done, someone simply re-typed it in the column. Either that or someone applied a formula and copied and pasted the values over it.
On top of all that, the layout of the data is different from both the database it feeds and the reports that feed it. I could not make this spreadsheet worth any less without locking it. On the plus side, I am very motivated to clean it up. I already cleaned up a copy that can transform the input into whatever the output needs to look. Just waiting on the decision of how it needs to look.

[Worst] Spreadsheet Ever


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