Documenting the Coming Singularity

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Using Excel's Form Controls

Microsoft Excel is my favorite application in the pantheon of all applications. What does that fact say about my personality? I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in my strangeness. One of the most useful features available in Excel is the spinner form control. Spinners look like this:

What they do is allow you to change the value of a cell by the increments you specify in the control's properties. For example, say you're starting a business, and you have a certain amount of money in the business account. You know your monthly revenue goals, and you have a good idea of your monthly costs. What you want to know is, when will you start having a net positive inflow? And how does that time-frame change for different cost estimates? When will you run out of money? How much do you have to cut your costs to make sure you don't run out of money?

To solve this problem and answer these questions, you need to create a spinner that will allow you to change your costs and see how each change affects your cashflow. Each time you click the spinner either up or down, the figures that depend on that number change automatically, and a chart that flows from those numbers will adjust to account for the changes. It's really quite nifty.

To learn more about form controls, click here.