Excel vs Google Sheets Design Spreadsheet

#1

I’m working on significant additions for version 4.0 of my design spreadsheet, and I’m running into a question of templates. Currently, my spreadsheet is available as a MS Excel document. To use it, you need to download, open on a computer with MS Office installed, and then you can edit and save it to your computer like any normal file. This is how JVN, Paul Copioli, and a number of others have made their spreadsheets. However, I am considering switching to Google Sheets, which would host the spreadsheet in the cloud, allowing access from any/multiple computers.

Here are the pros of each as I see them:

Excel Sheets
• Saved locally, so easier to organize on the computer • Easier file sharing across multiple computers
• Faster execution times • Multiple people can edit at once
• Can run VBA code for Sprint Distance Calculator • Doesn’t require MS Office, so can be edited from a phone
• Doesn’t require me to redo everything

All this being said, I'd like to hear from the community which one you'd prefer, and why. Or if you have another idea for a platform, I'd be open to hearing it.
  • Excel
  • Google Sheets

0 voters

#2

I hate using Google Sheets (Excel is so much nicer) but for an accessibility standpoint, it definetly is nicer. I know many schools (mine included) supply Chromebooks to students, making it difficult to use some Excel documents without breaking (functions not working).

1 Like
#3

I would like to point out that Excel does support simultaneous editing across Windows, Android, Mac, and online through One Drive.

Additionally, Office Online is free to use just like Google Sheets and Docs. You do need an Office 365 subscription to use the Android app and desktop program though.

1 Like
#4

Thanks to everyone who voted so far. I’m bumping this thread because I know that about 200 people use this spreadsheet and I’d like to hear from a bigger percent of them before making such a significant change.

Also, I’ve heard from a number of people who said that they can’t use the current Excel version for a number of reasons. I’ve yet to hear from anyone who says they wouldn’t be able to use a Google Sheets version if I do choose to make the switch. So if switching to Google Sheets would make it so you can’t use the spreadsheet for whatever reason, please post in this thread or PM me.

#5

I would prefer libreoffice calc, but I can see why that’s not an option. I can’t use the current Excel version on Linux, whereas I can use JVN.

Also add a pro for Excel that it can be used offline. I know we used JVN at our last competition.

#6

Since someone else is doing the development, I’ll take Google Sheets any day.

Yet if I have to do the development myself, I prefer Excel. There are too many specific things about sheet/graph/pivot options as well as cell editing where Excel is miles ahead of Sheets.

1 Like
#7

Can you provide it in both formats? As a mentor, I can’t access Google stuff at work. And personally, I just loathe Google apps - they just never feel complete (cause they aren’t). But I get why people use it.

2 Likes
#8

Excel is a powerful, versatile tool, which is to say that Excel is too bloated for a large amount users, and limiting for others. The object model in excel is pretty nice, but ancient, so lacks many modern programming features.

I would suspect that this sheet and similar ones don’t hit the limits of either so google sheets might win from just the accessibility standpoint.

(I still voted excel because it’s better)

#9

who is going to start taking all the FRC calculators and making them into python scripts

2 Likes
#10

Ding ding. Personally I’m preferential to our corparote overlords at Mathworks but that’s just due to familiarity. If we could make a library and tie it in with some TDD tools as demoed here that would be incredible.

#11

To answer some questions/comments:

No need to worry, I’m ding the development. I actually don’t mind working in Google Sheets, so this is pretty irrelevant for me.

Keeping both an Excel and Google Sheets template updated is something I might consider looking into. If nothing else, if I do switch I can likely update the last Excel version with any bug fixes even if I don’t add in the new features. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t be able to access Google Sheets at work; can you give some more details about this?

I actually did consider “rolling my own” calculator using python, Java, or some other programming language with a custom GUI. The added effort it would take to get a decent-looking solution just wasn’t worth the minimal gains in customizability.

#12

File sharing services are blocked to prevent rogue employees from stealing confidential data.

1 Like
#13

Another thing to note is VBA (or rather the power that comes with VBA) is not necessarily exclusive to Excel. If you’re familiar enough with Javascript you can use Google Apps Script to do many of the same things you would normally do in VBA for Google Sheets. I’m using it currently to query the TBA API and perform live ELO calculations for specific events/teams based on some of Caleb’s models and data. You can also set time based or action based triggers to automatically execute certain functions.

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#14

Some good notes here so far. I spend quite a bit of time in both applications.

  • If you don’t know VBA or Google Script, Google Script is easier to learn and the tutorials are more modern. But if you know VBA, Excel will have some added power.
  • Google Sheets is great for getting content from an external source. I use it to have multiple documents talk to each other (=IMPORTRANGE) or importing data from webpages (=IMPORTHTML, =IMPORTFEED, and =IMPORTXML) and JSON files using a custom function (=IMPORTJSON).
  • Just a tip: if you want people to make a copy of your Google Sheet, you can change /edit in the URL to /copy.
  • If you update your sheet, Excel will require you to reupload it to your source but for Google Sheets you can keep the existing document URL. With projects with frequent updates, I have a status sheet which displays if someone needs to update their sheet (if you want more info on this, let me know). For example, see this sheet in which “Your version” stays constant and “Current version” gets updated automatically .
  • Buttons are more reliable in VBA. Checkboxes used to be easier in VBA but now it can’t get any easier than the way Google Sheets does it.
  • Conditional formatting is about equal in both and data validation is slightly more flexible from Google Sheets.
  • Google Sheets can be used offline but it is much wonkier.
  • Google Sheets loads a bit slowly once you get really advanced with the formulas.

For my scoring calculators I create each year, I offer a Google Sheets and an Excel version. You can structure your formulas in such a way that if you create it in Google Sheets and download to Excel (or, if you create it in Excel and upload it to Google Sheets), the formulas will transfer nicely. For example, in simple math operations, use +, -, /, and * rather than using the =SUM function, etc. There are also functions like =VLOOKUP which work in both whereas =FILTER only works in Google Sheets (but in my opinion is much easier to use and more powerful).

Just spitballing - I have lots more thoughts and would love to answer more specific questions.

3 Likes
#15

Interesting. This is the first time I’m hearing of something like this. If anyone else has similar problems with either software, I’d appreciate it if you could answer this poll too.

  • I won’t be able to use a Google Sheets spreadsheet
  • I won’t be able to use an Excel spreadsheet

0 voters


@ImAnEngiNERD @jaredhk Thanks for your suggestions, they’ll be very helpful

1 Like
#16

Only answering no to Excel since I don’t have a proper license on my personal laptop. Both are fine on my work machine thankfully!