Monday, November 20, 2006

Good Bye Excel_Geek Blog_Mail, Hello Feedblitz

I'm about to do something risky...




Has anyone ever told you that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush?

For some time now I've offered this service called Excel_Geek Blog_Mail. It was simple: sometimes people would rather read my posts in their email than visit my blog, so I started offering to email subscribers my posts manually (actually using the "Email this post to a friend" feature built into Blogger). You see, atom feeds, XML, RSS, etc., tended to be complicated for many people (me too, I'll admit it). More complicated than many readers were willing to deal with simply to get an email (or equivalent) from little old me.

Over time, I've built up quite a following via Excel_Geek Blog_Mail. Some impressive loyalty, if I can compliment myself by complimenting my subscribers.

Now I'm going to change everything. Excel_Geek Blog_Mail is going away. It's simply too much work for me to do every time I post. I'm sorry. I appreciate all of you dearly, but for a solid hour after each post, I'm clicking and sending. Seriously.

But wait, don't leave. I'm now on Feedblitz, which I learned about through Feedburner. All you have to do to receive all of my posts automatically in your email is type your email address into the little box near the top of the left column of my blog and click the "Subscribe me!" button. Done. That's it. That's even easier than it was to sign up for Blog_Mail!

But what about current Blog_Mail subscribers? Herein lies the risk.

I certainly will not take the liberty with my precious subscribers' emails and sign them up for this myself without their permission. So...I'm asking you to visit my blog again ( and sign yourself up via Feedblitz if you want to continue to receive Excel_Geek in your email.

Oh, and if you're not already a Blog_Mail can sign up using Feedblitz anyway. ;)



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More uses for In-cell Charting - Gantt Charts & Graphic Equalizer Display

I've been playing around for the past few days with other creative ways to utilize the in-cell charting technique I've posted about. Here are two of my current favorites:

1) You can use in-cell charts to create Gantt charts. Let me just say that creating Gantt charts in Excel is hardly breaking any new ground. John Peltier has shown us advanced techniques for doing this using Excel's built in charting feature, and Mr. Excel has shown us how to build Gantt charts using simple conditional formatting. I'm passing this along as just another way to accomplish a similar visual appearance. Below is a small image of what I've done (click on it to open a new window with a larger image):

To create the bars in the chart I use the following formula:

=REPT(" ",D5-G$4)&REPT("█",E5-D5+1)

You can see to accomplish what we need, we first repeat a space (" ") a number of times equal to the start date of the task minus the start of the timeline. Then we repeat ASCII code 219 (hold < ALT > while typing 2 then 1 then 9) a number of times equal to the end date of the task minus the start date of the task + 1. I've also done this one to use conditional formatting to color-code the bars based upon their STATUS. Pretty straightforward, I think.

2) You can use in-cell charting to create graphic displays, such as a graphic equalizer display. Below is a small image of what I've done (click on it to open a new window with a larger image):

In order to accomplish this look, I have used in-cell charting, only this time I've aligned the "text" (the bar symbols we're using) vertically. Also, since I wanted to have the first 5 bars be green, the next 3 be gold, and the last 2 be red, I've actually split the "bars" into three stacked cells, and adjusted the height of those rows accordingly.

In the lowest segment of each "bar" here's the formula I've used:


In the middle segment, here's the formula:


In the topmost segment, here's the formula:


Add to this a little standard formatting with a black background, grey border with diagonal borders drawn on the corners for a 3D effect, and you've got yourself a nice looking graphic equalizer display. The possibilities from here are endless. You could feed this display the bar values dynamically from some other application using VBA, etc.

Additionally, this sort of chart could be used just as well as a regular bar chart in which you want to color-code segments.

I'll be packing up these two sample files and sending them off to my Excel_Geek Insiders subscribers, so you can play around with them and get your own great ideas. Please post a comment on this post if you come up with more cool ideas for in-cell charting.