Conditional formatting vs standard bar chart in Excel 2007Excel 2007 is useless. This was a shocking revelation when I tried to create the charts for last post (Chart Design: Abortion Ratios 1980-2003).

It was my first serious attempt at using Excel 2007. I failed miserably and gave up. I had to do everything in Excel 2003 and then open the file in Excel 2007 for some polishing.

I new there was some senseless options in conditional formatting (actually, it is worse than I expected, as you can see on the left chart). And Stephen Few said everything I needed to know about Excel 2007 new chart engine. And, by that time, Microsoft bought Dundas. Isn’t that enough to raise some red flags?

But I had to see it for myself. I will not talk about the ribbon. I keep it hidden, so it really doesn’t bother me. And having to learn a new interface is something that I don’t mind – let’s call it brain workout.

There are several small but frustrating things, like trying to select multiple charts as objects, but what really pissed me off was that empty macro I got, after recording some chart formatting. I couldn’t believe it and tried several times, before googling for this “error”. It isn’t one (you can compare both versions here and get more bad news, as I did).

I suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg. And it is not the major changes in features or the new user interface. It is the small things, left behind just to annoy you.

Bottom line: stay with Excel 2003. Charts in Excel 2007 look much better due to the new rendering engine, but do you really want to buy Office 2007 just to polish some charts?

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d like to know if (and how) you can do productive work with Excel 2007.