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Part of my job involves creating new articles. Each article is stored inside a spreadsheet and has an article number in cell A and a name in cell B.

The only reason I ever need to open the spreadsheet daily is to create a new entry into a new row.

Is there a way I can do this remotely, without having to have the application open? I run on a Mac, and we have the Office Excel 2011 which is dog slow. Could I link this a small program to allow me to perform basic operations?

What about if I got rid of the spreadsheet all together and used a small database, and gave each article it's own entry?

I am just getting the feeling that spreadsheets are not a very modern way for storing lots of information.

I am up for using tools such as Hazel or Keyboard Maestro to heavy automate the process.

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It sounds like your "getting the feeling that spreadsheets are not" comment is at the crux of the issue here. You may want to investigate what the real purpose of storing the data is, how it's used, etc. A small app/website that writes to a database may very well be your best bet. – StevenV Aug 3 '12 at 15:33
Hmmm now you have me thinking. I could setup a Rails app (would be a good excuse to learn Rails) and back it up with a database. I could then have each article viewable in it's native format (html) which would also count for being a backup (instead of storing them all in a folder on a network drive inside Word documents). – Wayne Haworth Aug 3 '12 at 15:40
sure. it all depends on what's done with the data after you enter it. If someone comes along and does a bunch of "what-if" or calculations, a spreadsheet may be the right thing to use. If not, perhaps a db/app combo would be better. – StevenV Aug 3 '12 at 17:34
StevenV has a good point here. If I would have to store some kind of information in this format, I would probably use a plain text file with some kind of separators between entries (tabs). Unless the article number contains tabs (will never happen IMO) this will work. Possible cons: If someone uses markup in their spreadsheet (e.g. mark super important entry as bold) this will be lost. People might get irritated if they no longer have neatly aligned columns, or if their text editor sucks. About Excel being slow: Performs Libre Office (fork of OpenOffice) any better? – 0x6d64 Aug 4 '12 at 8:29
A database is just as flexible (if not moreso) than a spreadsheet application, provided you have the right supporting tools. If you need to, you can export the information for use in a spreadsheet. The answer to this question may help:… I would be careful about storing the information in CSV format; you need to either use a CSV-specific API, or you need to make sure everything's correctly escaped. On the flipside, you should use parameterized queries when dealing with a database (if you're at the SQL level). – Barbarrosa Aug 4 '12 at 22:44

The most important thing is to make sure you understand how the spreadsheet is being consumed by someone else. You haven't explained that. Do other people read the spreadsheet every day? Are the consumers willing to change the representation to a database or something other than a spreadsheet? Do the consumers only look at it once a week on Monday mornings? For example, you could store the articles in a text file someplace and update the spreadsheet once a week. That's an easy way to cut your work to 1/7 of what it is now. It all depends on how the document is used by all the people who interact with it.

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Does the file need to have a lot of formatting, or is it just rows of flat text?

If it's just rows of flat text, convert it to CSV format. CSV stands for 'comma separated values' and it just what it says. If you have an Excel spreadsheet with two columns, a number and a name, it will come out like this in CSV:


It will still open in Excel as a spreadsheet, but now you can also open it in any old text editor (Notepad, TextMate, vim, emacs, etc) which is sure to be faster than opening Excel.

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