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Review: Numbers ?09

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 01:05 AM

Post your comments for Review: Numbers ?09 here
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#2 User is offline   odaiwai 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:39 AM

Numbers is slower than Excel 2008?
Excel is almost unusably slow on the Mac when working with large worksheets.
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#3 User is offline   griffman 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:57 AM

How large are the sheets you're working with? I was opening a sheet with over a million cells, and something on the order of 30,000 calculations. It opened in about five seconds, and recalculated instantly.
Even my most-complex Excel model runs fine in Excel 2008 (macros excepted, of course). The program loads more slowly than did Excel 2004, but once loaded, I haven't had any speed issues with the program.
-rob.
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#4 User is offline   KBeat 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 05:44 AM

We get price list updates from vendors in Excel or CSV files. They can be huge, on the order of a half million items with prices and basic formulas for various pricing tiers. Unfortunately Numbers chokes when trying to open them, usually crashing (both '08 & '09). Excel handles them fine, albeit a bit slowly on my MacBook Pro.
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#5 User is offline   odaiwai 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 05:49 AM

Even quite modest spreadsheets seem quite slow to recalculate on my Macbook (2.0ghz C2D White MB).
Opening one of my Forecasting Model worksheets: 17.2MB. 29 seconds to finish recalculating and be ready for use. Switching between sheets has a noticeable delay, and a full recalc takes 11 seconds. On Windows, this is instant. On Windows on older hardware (3.0Ghz P4), it's still much faster than on the MacBook.
My workbooks tend to have a lot of vlookups, but no external links.
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#6 User is offline   griffman 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 06:20 AM

Windows Excel has always smoked the Mac version, going back as far as I can recall (which is a fair distance :) ). The only fair comparison, staying on the same platform, is with prior versions of Office.
There, in my testing, I found that the new version of Excel is much slower to launch, but that the models themselves work at about the same speed as before -- some of mine were a bit slower, some were a bit quicker.
With the advent of the Intel line of Macs, the best solution for intense spreadsheet work is Excel for Windows within one of the virtual machine apps; you get the full feature set, and it's very fast -- quicker than when running natively on the Mac. Sad but true.
-rob.
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#7 User is offline   Rhywun 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 07:28 AM

It is sad. It's stuff like this that makes me think about switching back to Windows. I'm tired of certain crucial Windows programs outperforming their Mac counterparts.
(crosses fingers that Snow Leopard might improve things)
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#8 User is offline   odaiwai 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:17 AM

Rob: I agree with you on the best machine for Excel being a Mac running Windows in a VM, or just a crappy laptop running WinXP.
The spreadsheet I was referring to above was developed using 2004, and it was painful. But now, opening it in Excel 2004 only takes 12 seconds, while a recalc takes 4.4 seconds, both of which surprise me, as I remember it as being much slower. It does agree with your findings.
It takes 14 seconds to go through all the pages in the Excel 2004 document using ctrl-PgUp, while the Excel 2008 Document takes 8 seconds. The User interface is faster for 2008, but other stuff is about the same.
Rhywun: Excel being so much faster on Windows is annoying, but I wonder how much it's related to the Microsoft Mac Business Unit not wanting to optimize Office for the Mac enough to lose any Windows sales.
I think that Snow Leopard (and using GPU acceleration for OS tasks) will make the Apple Software super fast, while the Microsoft stuff just won't take advantage of it.
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#9 User is offline   fbcooper 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:48 AM

I have used spreadsheets on and off since 1982. That was called Visicalc. IT was fast on a Z80.
Microsoft Excel was SLOW SLOW SLOW. That said, I don't claim to know all of how to use Excel - I find it clunky but use it when necessary.
Anyway, I like Numbers 09 and now can use it for most stuff. I like that a worksheet can have one or more tables. This is better than Excel in that now, the table is really an object that has its own properties and the sheet is an object that contains tables.
For example, you can create categories, then turn the same categories off and back on again for that table - the table saves the last set. You can select a table from one worksheet and drag it up to another worksheet. Not 'cut and paste' - simply slide that table up to the other worksheet - don't worry if the table grew in size or where its boundries are on the sheet. Tables uses a sheet to keep track of the tables.
I like the ease of adding rows/columns and deleting rows/columns. You can easily MOVE rows and columns - all pain to do in Excel afaik.
I like how you can preview Print and quickly use a slider to change the zoom . This will make it easy to fit the right number of rows/columns onto a page. I like how you insert a Date into the footer, for example, then select that Date - up pops a little menu to change how the Date is formatted.
The Style section makes it easy to have 1 or more styles within the workbook and change a table to the proper style. Simply click the table (within the sheet), then click the style you want to set it to.
Want to redefine the style? Change a table, then simply select the menu of the style you want to redefine. The menu item 'Redefine Style from Table' does the trick.
What I would like to see are small enhancements like the ability to collapse all categories in a spreadsheet so you can see the subtotals quickly. You can do this one category at a time.
Same for the Sheets->Table window - it would be nice to collapse all the entries so I just see the sheet name quickly rather than have to one at a time close them so I can browse faster. Maybe I missed how easy it is to do this?
I would like a VLOOKUP to be able to reference the values in the category rows so I can pull subtotals from a working sheet to another work sheet. Now, you can manually copy the collapsed category rows (along with the data which is hidden) to a new table and reference that, but not a live table with the real data in it.
I would like to be able to Unhide ALL and then Hide All the rows - so the table remembers which rows were hidden from Unhide ALL and then closes them again.
I like the Object Inspector so you can quickly modify things. I like the Checkbox object type as that goes a long way to why I use a spreadsheet - to keep track of stuff.
There are other things but all in all you KNOW microsoft is trying to rip off some of these really nice ease of use features for excel users.
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#10 User is offline   Rhywun 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:48 AM

I think that Snow Leopard (and using GPU acceleration for OS tasks) will make the Apple Software super fast, while the Microsoft stuff just won't take advantage of it.

I wouldn't be surprised if the multi-core optimization only works for Cocoa apps. I'm pretty sure Office is still Carbon (based on its quir
Or maybe since Apple can't make anything faster there is just something in the code or API for OS X that slows things down?

I was wondering that myself. Numbers appears to be Cocoa but I'm not aware of Cocoa being slower than Carbon. Perhaps it's just that Numbers is a young product.compared to Excel. Good idea about trying Codeweavers. I picked up that free license a while back but I haven't tried to run Office in it.
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#11 User is offline   Rhywun 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:50 AM

that was supposed to say "quirky UI" - somehow got chopped off
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#12 User is offline   pln 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 08:58 AM

Numbers '09 would be perfect for me since I don't have to do anything fancy with spreadsheets, but it crashes on me with an Excel spreadsheet with only 2400 rows of three columns of numbers. No macros, no functions, no charts.
Opening it in Excel for Mac then saving it allows me to open the saved file in Numbers, but that defeats the purpose of having it (uninstalling Office).
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#13 User is offline   odaiwai 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 10:02 AM

KPO'M: Open Office for Windows also doesn't have the snap that Microsoft Office does.
I think the issue is not that the API for OSX is slow, but that Office for Windows is tied into the OS in deep and undocumented ways.
The ultimate solution is probably to put a Boot Camp partition on your Mac, put WinXP Pro SP3 on there, install Microsoft Office and let VMWare run your documents via VM. Opening the same spreadsheet as above takes 20 seconds, a recalc takes
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#14 User is offline   odaiwai 

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 10:06 AM

KPO'M: Open Office for Windows also doesn't have the snap that Microsoft Office does.
I think the issue is not that the API for OSX is slow, but that Office for Windows is tied into the OS in deep and undocumented ways.
The ultimate solution is probably to put a Boot Camp partition on your Mac, put WinXP Pro SP3 on there, install Microsoft Office and let VMWare run your documents via VM. Opening the same spreadsheet as above takes 20 seconds (going from the OSX disk to the Windows partition), a recalc takes less than 0.1 second, and scrolling through all the tabs takes under 4 seconds
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