Google just recently released its online spreadsheet, Google
Spreadsheet. For a limited time, registered Google users can test this program. It is offered in the Google Labs section of the Google webpage and is available on a first come, first served basis. While I love Microsoft
Excel, I recently signed up to try Google Spreadsheet because I like its reported ability to share worksheets online.
First, I signed up at http://www.google.com/googlespreadsheets/tour1.html for a test drive of Google Spreadsheets. Next, Google sent a confirming email with instructions on how to get a Google account. All I had to do was click the link and type in my email address and choose a password. Once I became an active Google member, I was taken directly to the Google spreadsheet page.
The spreadsheet is pretty basic, not nearly as functional as MS Excel, but it is easy to figure out and begin using right away. I immediately created a simple table and entered some basic data into it. With my high speed connection, the spreadsheet performed well with no noticeable lags. The Google spreadsheet has three tabs: format, sort and formulas.
The format tab covers the formatting of the text entered including both appearance and numeric attributes. This tab also allows for inserting and deleting columns and rows as well as alignment.
The sort tab allows for sorting data in either ascending or descending order. This section also features a freeze command similar to the “freeze panes” command in MS Excel.
The formulas tab has the basic functions such as sum, count and average available across the top of the pane. By clicking on “more”, a window pops open with even more formulas in categories such as math, financial, logical, date, lookup, statistical, text, and info functions.
The Google spreadsheet allows for multiple sheets just like Microsoft Excel. Worksheets can be saved and stored online as well as downloaded as either an .xls or .csv file. To share a Google spreadsheet, simply click “show sharing options” and enter the email address of the person to share with. Others can be invited to either view the spreadsheet or they can be given access to actually edit the spreadsheet.
The copy and paste functions work well. I was able to copy data from an existing MS Excel spreadsheet to the Google spreadsheet with ease.
After saving the spreadsheet, I did have a hard time finding it online again. At first, I logged into my Google account but couldn’t find a link for it. I eventually found it by going to back to Google Labs and following the link to Google Spreadsheets.
Google Spreadsheet is a good alternative for simple calculations, for sharing data online and for sharing worksheets with those who do not have Microsoft Excel. Google Spreadsheet has its limitations though. I couldn’t find any charting features or data analysis functions. My favorite filtering features of MS Excel are not present in Google Spreadsheet. Once Google is finished with the test phase of the spreadsheet, it is expected that they will implement advertisements within the program. For a free program this makes sense but may make Google Spreadsheet less attractive in the long run.