Review: Thumbs Up For Office 2010 Beta


The Office 2010 beta includes extended web and mobile reach and a number of useful app enhancements. The next challenge is persuading organisations and individuals to upgrade


In addition to the impressive enhancements around Sparkline charts and conditional formatting that I’ve covered in my Office 2010 Technical Preview review, Excel 2010 packs a handful of interesting tweaks to its PivotTable and PivotChart features.

I checked out these changes by linking a fresh Excel spreadsheet to a set of NBA statistics from last season. I then created a quick PivotChart to display players’ average offensive rebounds per game. With a few hundred players in my data set, I was faced with a rather unwieldy chart—and a great opportunity to try out Excel’s new search filter capabilities.

Clicking a “Player” button on my PivotChart brought up a menu with a bunch of sort and filter options. I used these options to trim my set of Players to the top five performers in terms of average offensive rebounds per game. From the same menu, I could remove certain players from consideration by unchecking boxes next to the players’ names in the dialog.

As with the filter button, I could modify other aspects of my PivotChart (and the PivotTable underlying it) using buttons situated on the chart. All in all, I expect that the new options for manipulating charts will help flatten out the learning curve for users who haven’t quite gotten comfortable with these Excel features.

Another addition to Excel’s PivotTable and PivotChart toolbox is the Slicer—a graphical element that allows users to modify data under analysis by slicing it up by particular categories.

I inserted a Slicer into my offensive rebounds chart that let me consider only wins or losses in determining my top five performers. For example, when taking into account only losses, Golden State Warriors’ Andris Biedrins was second in the league in offensive rebounds per game. Considering only wins, Biedrins didn’t crack the top five.