A (refactored) Christmas Carol

Our story begins on a cold and bleak desktop. Excel, an aged application , ignores an invitation to Christmas dinner from his nephew UserVoice. Excel turns away desperate pleas from 222 voters who seek an upgrade to Tables in order to provide data integrity and usability for their poor users. Excel only grudgingly allows his overworked, underpaid Tables to be used while a sheet is protected, and even then, only to conform to the bare minimum of the existing Sheet Protection functionality.

At home that night, Excel is visited by Lotus 1-2-3’s ghost, who wanders the Earth, entwined by heavy patents and dependency chains forged during a lifetime of greed and selfishness. Lotus 1-2-3 tells Excel that it has one chance to avoid the same fate: Excel will be visited by three spirits and he must listen to them or be cursed to carry dependency chains of his own, much longer than Lotus 1-2-3’s chains.

The first of the spirits, The Ghost of Microsoft Past, takes Excel to scenes of Excel’s boyhood and youth, reminding him of a time when he was more innocent. The boyhood scenes portray Excel’s lonely childhood, his relationship with his beloved sister Word, and an office party hosted by his first employer, Mr. Gates, who treated Excel like a son. They also portray Excel’s neglected fiancée Access, who ends their relationship after she realizes that Excel will never love her as much as he loves unstructured data.

The second spirit, the Ghost of Microsoft Present, takes Excel to a joy-filled help forum of people gathering the makings of a PowerQuery, and then on to a celebration of business intelligence in a data-miner’s PowerPivot data model. They then visit Acme Inc, where we meet Jolly Jeff, an otherwise happy analyst who’s Table-driven macro-free Excel templates are seriously unprotected. The spirit informs Excel that Jolly Jeff’s carefully constructed templates will soon be corrupted by ignorance and laziness unless the course of events changes. Before disappearing, the spirit shows Excel two hideous, emaciated columns of data named Calculated_Column and Freetext. He tells Excel to beware the former above all and mocks Excel’s complete lack of concern for their unprotected state.

The third spirit, the Ghost of Microsoft Yet to Come, shows Excel a business office in the future. The ghost shows him scenes involving the death of a disliked application. The application’s funeral will only be attended by local businessmen if donuts (of the charting variety) are provided. When Excel asks the ghost to show anyone who feels any emotion over the application’s death, the ghost can only show him the pleasure of Stephen Few. The ghost then shows Excel the application’s neglected grave:

Excel: 1985 – 365.
Here lies one who frivolously cavorted with the entire office while not using adequate protection.
Recalculate AND Die.

Sobbing, Excel pledges to the ghost that he will change his Table Protection to avoid this outcome. Excel awakens the next day a changed program. Excel spends the day with Mr Gates’ family and anonymously sends a large update to Tables to the Weir home for Christmas dinner. From then on Excel began to treat everyone who uses Tables in a protected workbook with kindness, generosity and compassion, embodying the spirit of User Experience.

2 thoughts on “A (refactored) Christmas Carol

  1. Excellent, let’s hope it works.

    And thanks for the Stephen Few link (although rather ironic that a blog on visualising data should have so many words).

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