Pathways Reports Now Excel Based

Microsoft Excel’s ancestors (Multiplan, Visicalc, Lotus 123) are almost singlehandedly responsible for the adoption of personal computers in business. Fast forward nearly 30 years and Microsoft Excel is still the jewel in the Microsoft Office crown and the phrase “Excel File” has replaced “Spreadsheet” in day to day vernacular.

In today’s super interconnected world, excel files and their simple cousin the “CSV” file are one of the most basic and common files used for getting data into systems, and getting data out. The use and prevalence of fixed A4/Letter style reports is also rapidly declining as most reports are now sent via email (why format it for a printer?) and typically PDF reports give the end user and author very little control over layout. Even Pathways 9 was built around the “print everything and fax it” mantra that began in the 90’s. With Pathways Cloud, we are substantially changing this direction to reflect the reality of reporting today and in the future. How?

As reports were A4 oriented in the past we had to generate hundreds of different reporting variations. Our research showed that more than three quarters of our clients would then export those reports to excel to customise them by removing columns, changing order, adding branding etc. We now make this easy.

All screens in Pathways with data lists have an Excel Export button that creates a nicely formatted excel file with one click. Similarly the “Custom Lists” screens in Pathways for Students, Hosts and Placements allow you to not only build and save your custom lists but to also export these to excel.

We much prefer this, both as a user of the system and as a designer for these big reasons:
– You have total control over the data and the output
– Excel makes it easy to ad-hoc remove columns, change colours, remove rows you don’t want
– Everybody has excel so we can send that report to them in Excel format
– If we WANT to PDF it we can use the built in Microsoft Export to PDF function
– Having trouble fitting it on a page? Excel’s print to fit function is excellent

Common scenarios where an excel file would be far superior to a physical A4 style report:
– Placement List for a Particular Teacher (from the Custom Lists screen)
– List of Student Placements for a Class
– List of Hosts and their contacts for an industry night
– List of Students in a Class
– List of Hosts in a Particular Industry

So, we like Excel as a reporting format. It’s flexible, easy to understand, can be emailed in PDF or native format. But perhaps one of the biggest reasons you should use Excel is because you can use it to make role playing games.

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February 12, 2013 Tags: ,