Google Sheets and Google Forms

It’s good to check out how Google Sheets are doing every now and then.  In my view, it just isn’t as powerful a tool as Excel.  Not sure how to say this better because I am not writing it off and it shouldn’t be underestimated as a tool for many users.  One biggie for me is it can’t exist on your desktop so won’t work without the internet.  I go to places in Australia occasionally that don’t have internet and at various times when traveling overseas some times you just don’t have internet.  But if you need your spreadsheet to be free, mobile, shares and syncs effortlessly and is still very good, well that’s Google Sheets.  Excel has conquered the past great spreadsheets like Lotus 123 and Visicalc and hasn’t ever stood still.  It has had VBA, good charting and Pivot Tables for a long time and more recently strengthened it’s case with powerful data tools like Tables, Power Query and Power Pivot as well as PowerApps and Power BI integration.  Also I think because MS Word and Powerpoint are still such powerful industry standard tools, integration with them and the ability to embed Excel ranges and link to spreadsheet held data is another compelling point in it’s favour.

But Sheets has a good feel, it’s free (must be the best free software out there surely) and also has some key advantages over Excel namely it’s far better than Excel (so far) for shared spreadsheets situations, it works with Google Forms and it has some killer functions such as…

  • GoogleFinance to grab stock data straight from Google Finance  GOOGLEFINANCE(“GOOG”, “price”, DATE(2014,1,1), DATE(2014,12,31), “DAILY”) [how good is that!)
  • GoogleTranslate =GOOGLETRANSLATE(“text”, “source language”,”target language”).

OK if you Google hard enough I am sure there are UDFs written in VBA that are at least the equivalent of GOOGLEFINANCE.  Still, sometimes yours truly will be using Google Sheets for certain jobs that suit the situation even though ‘’ doesn’t have the same ring to it!   But it is very good.  I think if you are a basic to intermediate spreadsheet user and just don’t have the time or need to get more deeply into Excel, it would be hard to blame you for being a Sheets fan.  I love it’s ribbon, well actually its just a simple file menu – almost like the simple much loved Excel 2003 file menu pre Excel 2007.

It’s also worth having a play with Google Forms.  You can go into directly or from the Form menu in Sheets.  It’s pretty cool to be able to collect data and have it saved to a nominated spreadsheet.  But you can’t do any calculations on the forms which  I think makes them still limited.  For instance it’s all very well using Google Forms for say as an employee timesheet, but there is currently no easy way to put some logic and rigor into the forms that does sensibility checks or compares to a roster or rota of normal working hours.   Or say you wanted to give a customer a calculator to consider certain products or services you can’t multiply hours times a rate or x metres times a $/mtr.  Maybe it will come.

Lastly on this general topic, I thought this was a great short and quirky video that summarises Excel vs Google Sheets situation really well.